I’m not writing this to hurt anyone.
Even though I’ve wanted to write this for a while, I held off on it for several reasons: the post always came across as incredibly bitter…and quite frankly, I wasn’t strong enough to deal with any criticism or blow black from people who knew me when I was with him.
Trust me, I know there’s two sides to every story. But this is mine.
I’m not writing this to hurt anyone, but I know it will.
I also know if it will piss a lot of people off…particularly those in my ex-boyfriend’s camp or the people who just wanted me to shut up about everything all those years ago.
I know this is going to hurt people. So I’ll go ahead and tell anyone who’s upset about this post exactly what my ex boyfriend said to me the day after he grabbed me by the neck and shoved my head into a car window over and over again. I’ll go ahead and say: I’m sorry…but I never meant to hurt you.
Hope that makes you feel better? I dunno…It never really worked for me.
I’m not writing this to hurt anyone. I’m writing this because the only reason I stopped talking about abuse, is because other people told me to.
I was sick of being called dramatic, of getting belligerent emails from him, or getting called a liar in bars by people who knew him. I was sick of having to explain to people why I broke up with him…after all…we looked so happy together in photos.
I’m writing this because I told myself that I would never go back to someone who abused me. That if a guy so much as laid a finger on me, I would be gone. I’m writing this because we all have stories like this, but we never talk about them. And we need to start to.
I judged people like Rihanna, questioned their sense of self respect, and held on to the belief that I, some how, was better and stronger than a girl who would go running back.
But I wasn’t.
And for a long time, that made me question myself. And doubt myself. And ultimately hate myself. But luckily, as time went on, I got some clarity…and with that clarity…the questions turned to answers.
Answers that I wish I had two years ago. And answers that I think may help people. Who knows…maybe this post is just for me. For me to help myself. To finally put one of my relationship Bogeymen to rest. He always did say I was selfish.
Why did I go back?
1. Because people convinced me the abuse wasn’t bad enough
As my ex so poignantly put in an email, “it’s not like I Ray Rice-ed you.”
If you dont get the reference, please stop right now and view the footage of what NFL player Ray Rice did to his fiance in an elevator. (She later married him that month)
So I’ll go ahead and confess that this is true: my ex did NOT knock me unconscious in an elevator, and drag me by the leg into a hotel hallway and let the doors almost close on me. He sure didn’t.
He also didn’t leave me bruised up, or in need of a hospital. He never punched me. He never slapped me.
He did, however, go from being a guy who “would never touch a girl,” to someone who “would never touch me again.” You see…it was a one time thing. He believed it. Other people believed it. And after a few months of being broken up, I believed it too. So I went back. And when it happened again…it still wasn’t bad enough for people.
But it was finally bad enough for me.
People asked questions. How hard he pushed me…had I said something to antagonize him…was I sure I wasn’t exaggerating?
And I spent way too much of my time and sanity trying to answer these questions. And I’m done now. But I do have a question of my own for anyone who still thinks things weren’t bad enough: how bad did I need to let it get? Seriously, how badly did he need to hurt me?
2. Because I saw it coming
I saw the violence build up the first months we were together: he’d punch walls, throw phones, push taxi drivers…all the while swearing he would NEVER touch me. Ever.
Then he did. And I left.
But then it seemed like he changed. And I told myself that I would be able to see it coming if it were to ever happen again. And I told myself that I would leave at the first sign of his old habits.
I was wrong.
3. Because he convinced me that if I couldn’t love him, I couldn’t love anyone
This one makes me angry.
Because, nothing brings out the weakness in a strong woman, like a weak man.
Because he made me believe that it was better to give up on myself, than it was to give up on the relationship.
Emails, phone calls, text messages, all saying a variation of the same thing: that I gave up on him. That no one could possibly love me more than him. That no one is perfect. And if I couldn’t appreciate how much he loved me, then I would never be able to appreciate anyone who would love me afterwards.
Because he redefined and blurred the lines between loving someone, and needing someone. And after a while, it all felt the same to me.
4. Because I lost every single one of my friends
To make a long story short, it wasn’t a fun time for any of them.
Many of them pulled away from me because, to them, my behavior all of a sudden became erratic. I was crying all the time. Wanting to see him, but then swearing I’d never see him again. Blocking his number, then calling it a million times. Many of them pulled away because they just didn’t know what I needed.
I was always the one that they could depend on. Unflappable. I was the one that always helped, and all of a sudden, I needed help. And I didn’t know how to ask for it, and when it was given, I didn’t know what to do with it.
I changed, and I didnt recognize myself.
But he stayed the same. He was a constant…and for a while…despite his temper and the emotionally violent fights we would get into…he seemed safe.
5. Because he wasn’t a bad person
This was the hardest conclusion to come to. And I think for a lot of people on the outside of these relationships (the friends, family, co-workers) it’s the hardest thing to come to terms with…
Abusers aren’t bad people. They are just really horrible partners.
My ex is a good friend to a lot of people. He has a family he loves, and a job that he excels at. And I wish him nothing but the healing I found (some days)
A lot of people couldn’t understand how someone like my ex could have such a dark side to them. Hell, I couldn’t understand it either. And I don’t try to understand it anymore. I just know that I don’t want it in my life.
6. I did not go back because I loved him…
To this day, people say this to me. That I must’ve stayed because I loved him.
I didn’t love him.
And he didn’t love me. He needed me.
Abusive partners will never love anyone who stays with them, because in their hearts, they will never respect them. They will never respect someone who allows themselves to be treated on the outside, the way abusers feel on the inside.
So there it is.
I wouldn’t consider myself someone who “survived” an abusive relationship.
I was lucky enough to be able to “leave” it. And to move on. I left before things got “too bad” and for some reason, people think that means I’m not allowed to talk about the things that did go bad.
But I’m going to keep talking about them anyways…hoping that more people choose to leave and live, rather than survive.
And in case anyone needs to hear this, Ill go ahead and say it:
Is he going to change? No
Should you leave? Yes
Will anyone love you more than he does? Absolutely
Acknowledgements: this wasn’t easy to write, but I feel like it needed to be written. And I can’t write this post without paying a special thanks to my Mom. She was a warrior for me during a time where I had no fight left in me.