At first you ignore it. You deny that it ever happened. You don’t talk about the nights that you stayed up until 6am listening to him call you every name in the book and put dents into the wall while you hid in the living room, trying to ride out the rage. You don’t talk about the times the cops were called, the times he ended up in the ER, the times that you were amazed you weren’t admitted alongside him. You think that if you just never bring up the drinking, the drugs, the times you were actually scared for your safety it will be like they were just a bad dream that you’ve already forgotten.
Deny, deny, deny. You denied there was a problem when you were in the relationship, and you’ll continue to deny there was a problem even though now you’re out. If you don’t talk about the way you learned to cry with no sound, without even a crack or waver in your voice while you answered questions in the dark, assured him that you weren’t mad at him, then it never happened. If a tree falls in the woods, does anybody hear it? If you don’t talk about the times he pushed you, swung at you, spit at you, does it have to be a memory?
And for awhile, it works.
You shake it off, and laugh, and piece yourself back together now that this weight has been lifted. You block him from all social media, his number from your phone, and effectively cut him out of your life. When friends give you the concerned face and ask tentatively how you’re doing you flash them a fucking award-winning smile and declare that you’re totally okay. You make declarations about being kind to yourself, being a better human being, and go on a mission to be become the best possible you.
But like all good things, this too will come to an end.
Maybe it will be because someone who’s only aware of the fact that you dated, not the fact that he destroyed you, will ask about him and you’ll be forced to pretend like saying “We’re not really in touch,” doesn’t break your heart. Maybe you’ll see him crossing the street looking healthier and happier than he ever did with you and it will make you question what is so messed up about you that you brought out the worst in him. But at some point the time spent acting like you’re better than ever will go away and it’s going to hurt even more than you could have ever imagined.
It doesn’t matter that there isn’t someone making you question every piece of confidence you had once had anymore, you will always question your judgement. You fell for a monster. You enabled behaviors that put yourself in harm’s way. And even though you know at your core it wasn’t your fault, you will still wonder if there is something you could have done that would have made things different.
Everyone is always there to encourage the good days, but no one can really tell you how to deal with the bad days.
No one tells you about how out of nowhere, it’s going to be hard to sleep. No one tells you that one minute you’ll be on the stair stepper, paging through an old issue of People, and the next it will feel like you can’t breathe because you feel so alone. No one tells you that even though you will always hate him for how he made you hate yourself with ever fiber of your being, you will still worry about him every single day.
No one tells you how hard it is to explain that even though you would never let him back into your life, a part of you will always hate that he’s gone.
The thing about abusive relationships is that despite stitches that are now removed and therapy you attend like it’s church, bruises that have now faded and scars that never will, the invisible wounds just never heal. Your confidence will come back but there will still be a sliver of doubt every time you try to trust your own judgement. Even though you aren’t hurting anymore, even though you’re safe, you’ll always be scared of putting yourself back into those situations. And even though you know you shouldn’t, even though it may just be the tiniest bit, you will always blame yourself.
You feel like damaged goods. Like someone so broken and defeated that you wonder if it’s even possible for someone genuine, someone good to love you.
But then you remember how strong you are. You remember that despite someone literally trying to force you out, to tear you apart, to make you believe that you weren’t worthy of anything remotely close to love, you’re still here. You could have crawled into a hole, given up on everything, but you didn’t. You didn’t. You went through hell and back and you survived. You bad ass. You survived. You take a deep breath, place your hand over your chest, feel your pulse, and pick yourself back up. Every single time, you pick yourself back up.
You’re still here. And you’re not going anywhere..
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