This is a guest blog I wrote for LittleBirdFlies and am posting here to begin sharing my journey through abuse and recovery publicly. Thank you for looking in!
To my abuser:
You never left me alone. From the very beginning, you were somehow always there. You never asked for permission, you just assumed you could. You picked your victim well because I didn’t know how to say no to your assumptions, things just suddenly “were”. We were dating not even a month when I went on vacation and you called at least once every day. You never left me alone long enough to stop and think about our relationship. You moved in when we’d been dating less than two months – again by assumption instead of by agreement. You happily spend your days doing what you wanted, content to know I was simply nearby and ready at your beck and call.
When we married your jealousy came to the forefront. My clothes were too revealing, guys looked at me and that was my fault. If I encouraged you to follow your interests or to go out with our friends you wondered why I wanted you away from me – wondered who I was going to meet up with in your absence. If I wanted to go out with my friends, you “wondered” who I was truly meeting with and what I was doing… Or you suddenly developed an interest in the things I wanted to do and came along.
After the children came along you blatantly accused me of having an affair if I wanted to leave the house without the children, or even if I suggested you go out by yourself to pursue your old passions.
You destroyed my faith in myself. I wondered what I had done to make you think I was capable of an affair. You made me wonder what I did to make you think I was flirting with other men when I didn’t notice anyone except you. You made me question why nothing I did was good enough for you.
By the time you hit me for the first time, you probably thought I was defeated and wouldn’t say anything back to you. When I left, you were stunned that I still had that much esteem. Foolishly, I came back. You picked up where you left off except now you had more ammunition because you could claim I didn’t have any right to leave you in the first place. You accused me of “overreacting” and every time I reacted to something you did, you accused me of the same. You spoke to others of your perceptions, convincing them that I was making things up and over-reacting. My family history is a great weapon for you because you only had to convince others that I was afraid of history repeating itself and thereby seeing things that weren’t really there.
You did learn I wouldn’t tolerate being hit even in the slightest. You focused your attacks on my character, on my fears, on dismissing my reality. You denied conversations, accused me of never communicating with you, intimated I was suffering from mental illness while refusing to let me get help. You realized our children were your weapons; tools you could use against me. One you decided to refuse was your child and ignored; the other you started to hit. Testing my limits to allow my loved ones to be hurt, knowing that eventually I’d let you hit me again instead of my children.
When I left, determined to protect our children, you convinced my friends and supporters that I was “over-reacting”, that of course you hadn’t done anything truly wrong. You had only disciplined our son and of course you believe our youngest was yours. Leaving didn’t stop your manipulations and gas-lighting, it actually increased it.
Until I left I hadn’t realized how much you had isolated me. You had destroyed relationships with fellow church members, damaged relationship with my parents, left me without friends because I never had any time to build friendships in the places you kept moving us to and you campaigned against me in the fledgling friendships I had built, badmouthing me even in the beginning stages of those friendships behind my back. You set a groundwork of doubt in our associates in case I left you again and when I left, you manipulated those strings to make people doubt my word and believe yours.
The one relationship you couldn’t take away from me or damage was my relationship with God and He opened my eyes to see the truth and the danger. He showed me this wasn’t His plan for any of our lives. Thus, your machinations backfired and I found the strength to walk away and stay away.
I’ve fought to regain my faith in myself and in the goodness of others. I’ve struggled to regain my ability to trust people and let them into my life. I refuse to let you destroy my soul and my heart. Our children know they never deserve to be hit, that they deserve to be treated with respect and love. That they ARE loved, no matter what.
And me, I am loved. Those who love me do so no matter what. I don’t have to be perfect for them, I can be flawed and still be loved. You didn’t break me; you didn’t destroy me, despite your attempts to do so.