The thing is, it doesn’t start out the way people think abusive relationships start out. All relationships tend to start out with hope, love, happiness, and attraction. A lot of abusers don’t start out as abusive, a lot of them don’t even exhibit signs of abuse until it’s too late.
We started out happy. We started out with joy in our hearts and hope in our eyes. We started our with happiness too. There was something so real and special about our love. I thought, this was it. All that hunting and searching had finally comes to an end. This is what all the heartbreak had been for. And I was determined with every fibre of my being to make it work.
I would put my pride second to my love, I promised myself. I would make sure we never went to bed angry. I would do everything I could to make you happy. Unfortunately what I did not realise was the love that I had thought was elixir would turn toxic. We were happy for a few years. And then suddenly, it all soured and you began to show me who you truly were.
Your pride would always come first in an argument. You loved to hold onto your anger (your words, not mine) and my happiness was secondary when trying to win an argument.
For years I tried to make it work. I tried to understand why you were cruel. Why you brought up my trauma every time we argued as a mean to taunt me. I convinced myself that everyone left the house after every argument, that most people left things unresolved. You convinced me that I was asking for too much when I asked you to be there for me when I was struggling with something.
And then you did the unforgivable during one argument. You hit me.
That settled everything in my head. My decision to leave was made the minute your fist connected with my skin. I asked you to leave me alone that very day, but you were never good at taking no for an answer. So I stood my ground. Even when you threatened to hit me again. I chose my self respect, and I used it as a shield. I didn’t insult you – you know how much I hate name calling in arguments something you always regressed to doing. I calmly refused you over and over again.
I’ll never forget the words you said to me. “What happened to you, you used to love me.”
I began to choose myself. That’s what happened to me. I realised I was worth more than what you were giving me. I recognised people do not hit each other in relationships. I recognised how you were gaslighting and using my trauma against me. I began to believe in myself. I chose my self respect over you. And all it took, was for you to cross that line and dare to use your fists on me.
Did you really think as someone who has been physically abused before, that I would let YOU of all people do it to me again? Did you think I would stand by and just let you brutalise me after you had already made a mockery of my love, a love you had set on fire and simply watched burn?
No. I chose my self respect that day. I chose myself. And I will keep choosing myself, no matter how much guilt you throw my way. No matter how much you try to convince me I am not good enough for anyone else.
I am better than the toxic love you tried to give me. I am better than the physical and emotional abuse you put me through. Even if you don’t believe it, I do.
Because today and everyday I will choose my self respect. Today and everyday, I will choose ME.