Trigger Warning: This article contains language describing abuse and could be upsetting and triggering to some readers.
During our relationship, he only touched me to make me stay, to make believe there was love behind the aggression, behind the pain. Pulling me in and holding me until this false warmth and comfort was brought over me, diluted hope. But never, never out of love. I don’t remember a time he kissed me for no reason, ran his fingers through my hair, or even hugged me. There was no love in his words or actions, yet somehow I convinced my self, created this delusion that he did love me. So I proceeded to sit back even though time and time again he showed me how little he thought of me, all while playing the role of the trusting, loyal and blinded girlfriend.
The kind that wore makeup because he said it made her presentable. The kind that stayed up late while he was out drinking in case he needed a ride. The kind that stood up for him when my friends questioned his intentions and when they questioned the bruising. The kind that bit her tongue and swallowed it to avoid being vulnerable to his anger. The one that stayed even when he pushed her up against a wall. The one that took the pain and buried it so far down, that she struggles to get it to resurface today. Some days the memories appear to me, I can still feel the bruises from when he hit me, his hands tightly wrapped around my wrists. I can hear him telling me that I’m broken.
I couldn’t express my feelings without him going into these fits escalating more and more depending on the topic at hand. When I would bring up how he treats me or talk about ending our relationship, it brought out this terrifying, heartless side of him. He would make me feel as if my feelings were not valid. He would insist it was because I was sick or mentally imbalanced. We would fight until one of us left, usually, it was him. He would storm off and leave me. Days of no communication, worrying and crying over a man that never cared for me or my heart.
Somehow no matter what he did to hurt me, no matter how many valid reasons I had to be hurt, I was the one that apologized. I was the one begging, pleading for him to stay. If he hit me or said something to hurt me then I was just “too sensitive” and overreacted. If he lied to me and I found out about it, then I never trusted him in the first place and he was protecting me by not telling me. When he cheated on me, it was my fault – I was a prude for not wanting to have sex with him, I was “too depressed”, my medical issues were too much and he needed a release, or somehow I pushed him into it by not trusting him with my heart after he broke every fragment of it, again and again, and again.
I realized who he was about a year and a half in. People always ask me how I was so blind. Why I didn’t leave him right then, right when I realized. Growing up, you see these epic love stories in the movies. Sometimes you want it so badly, you believe in someone so much that you miss the locked doors. The underlying anger, and just the darkness in people, just pushed out of view. You think – they love me, they would never lie to me. So the traps they set to get you to stay, work. He always had a way of making me feel as if I should be grateful that he was able to be with me. Someone with my medical history, my past, and just my body should be lucky to be with anyone. Every label he stuck on me, I believed: irrational, broken, anorexic, damaged, overdramatic, and just ungrateful. Eventually, he got me to the point I was too broken to see anything, anything in me worth loving. I started to be grateful that someone like him could love me. I use the term love so loosely though. He only told me after hitting me or when he was drunk. Only when he thought he could lose me. Only when he wouldn’t remember.
The only thing I truly lost with almost two years with him, was myself. That feeling and sense of self-confidence was stolen and stripped of me, replaced with self-doubt and questioning. Some days I look in the mirror and I still see the bruises. When I left I came out with this torn up image of my body, a new-found disgust with it. My confidence and happiness scattered on the floor. Every day, since I escaped that relationship, has been a step towards taking my life back. A step towards learning how to love myself again, to be proud of who I am and what I’ve overcome. But most importantly how to let people in, to show my scars without having them outshine my heart, my passions, and what makes me simply me.
The hardest challenge I have and am still facing is my fear of love. Love is uncertain. In the end, you will never fully know if the person we give our love to will return it in the way we need it. We don’t know if that person is right for us. Feelings are a truly fluid thing, nothing in life is truly certain or mapped out. I met someone who I think the risk of heartbreak is overwhelmingly worth it. In the end, I don’t know how deep my love is, where my future with him will go, but I do know I’d rather risk the pain than to never know. To get to lay in his arms, laugh with him, and experience these unknown times with him. He brings out the best in me and reminds me that I am bigger than my past, bigger than the pain. He is someone I feel safe with. In the end, that’s all I need.
I am scared to love but I’ll continue. I love him now, and if it breaks, ill love again time and time again. I refuse to let my first, all the pain he brought, control my present.