by Tigress Luv
When I was the tender age of 17 I married an ‘abuser’. Being such a tender age I didn’t realize the implications of this act. I was innocent, my heart was naive, my desire to get married and become an ‘adult’ swayed my thoughts, too. Now mind you, before I married this man I was fully aware of his abusive ways. He had already choked me into unconsciousness; asked me how I would feel if he had his friends rape me; hit me; belittled me; and threatened to harm my family if ever I were to leave him. And I still married this man! Talk about young and innocent! I was just plain dumb! I thought all his worries of losing me, all his shame for his behavior, were the signs of ‘love’. I actually felt ‘loved’ by the abuse. Does that make sense? Again, I tell you, I was young, dumb, blind, and given to the Cinderella fantasy of happily ever after in my own home, raising my own children – being an ‘adult’ and being ravishly loved.
Three years, one daughter, and lots of bruises later – I divorced him. In all admittance I have to say I looked behind me for years. I’d glance in the rearview mirror. I scanned restaurants, saloons, etc for his face as I entered. I hid behind unlisted phone numbers and moved a lot. But eventually I got over it – and moved past the fear.
From there I flitted in and out of relationships, remarried and divorced, fell in love and lost my love to death three years later. And then, one day, I met ‘him’. Oh-la-la!
Now, this is where you think the story ends and we ride off into the sunset together, hand-in-hand, right? Wrong!
‘B’ was a wonderful man! Loving, special, good with my children, supportive of my work, giving – very giving. Sexy, charming, fun to be with. Gentle, caring, compassionate, concerned, empathetic. Gawd, who could want for more? He thought I hung the moon, and, indeed, I thought he helped me.
After four months we moved in together. Our home was beautiful to me. Our yard was beautiful. Our future held so much promise. I was in heaven!
Approximately two weeks after we moved in together he got in a rage about a shirt I wore that he suspected was less than ‘decent’. Truth is I have ample breasts and, unless I wear a huge man’s insulated flannel shirt, it’s very hard to hide ‘breasts’! – And, in truth, why should I? This was disappointing because I am an extremely independent woman and any kind of control measures another imposes on me makes me want to fight or flight. I don’t bend easy to being told what to do.
(excuse me for a moment as ‘B’ is yelling at me)
Okay, I’m back…
Anyway, afterwards he was real apologetic. Uh-huh.
Then he was real ashamed. Uh-huh.
Then came the regret and the begging and pleading to forgive. Uh-huh.
Then came the ‘little’ controlling moves, again. Those familiar ‘walking on egg-shells’ feelings erupted in me, giving me flashbacks to a relationship 20+ years earlier. I recognized the ‘uneasy’ feelings, the fear of ‘impending doom’, and the ‘oh, here we go again’, feeling. And then…damned if you do, or damned if you don’t…no matter what…
….it would happen all over again.
And then the “I’m sooooo sorry”, “Please forgive me” “It will never happen again” “I’m such a jerk, fool, asshole, idiot, monster…” And I would come back, because, after all I was very happy with him and the relationship. We just had a little bump in the road, that’s all. He is aware he has a problem and he loves me so much, and that is my home….Oh, Argh!
Then things were great. We spent all our time together. We loved hardy, cherished each other’s company. Life was good! We had fun, talking and laughing for hours on end. We danced under the moon. We exchanged dreams of a future together. And then …
I decided one night, after working all day (I work out of my home) that I needed to get out by myself – and have some ‘me’ time. I call this ‘self inner-reflecting‘, and if I don’t do that every now and then I feel the world starting to enclose around me and my own, personal ‘sense of self’ becomes threatened. I needed to reconnect with ‘me’.
To him that meant that I was a whore, and had some ‘imaginary’ lover waiting for me some where. Give me a break!!! But, so…..here we go again…
….it all started. The Rage. The yelling, the insults, the power, the threats, the drunkenness, the insinuations, the fear…
And, so, once again, I left the man I love. But then came back. Then left again when it happened again. And then came back. And so the story goes. Over and over and over….
I found myself ‘sugar-coating’ everything I said or did – lest I ‘set him off’. I didn’t dare leave the home, except with minute-by-minute details of exactly What I was doing and Where I would be going. And then, once I left, he would call on me, with innocent sounding requests, “grab me a hamburger” “grab me some smokes” “since you’re going to the store, could you pick me up a…” but I knew the truth. Checking. Controlling. He worked his slow, subtle psychological seduction and psychological abduction, of me. I dressed in frumpy ol’ shirts and the same pair of tennies – lest to ‘set him off’. I stopped wearing cosmetics and fixing my hair – lest he question my ‘motive to look good’. I could go days without showering – I just didn’t take any pride in myself anymore. I never called my friends on the phone – lest he feel threatened and go into a rage. And eventually my smile started to fade. And my eyes held dark circles. I hunched over and my back sagged. I was tired. I shuffled my feet when I walked. I was depressed. Nothing held joy in life. I was ‘dead’ inside.
Although I wasn’t a healthy woman to begin with I realized my health started to fail even more. My pain was excruciating. My breathing extremely labored from tension, nervousness, and stressful vices. I coughed all the time because I was smoking something like five packs a day.
And I started to recognize the ‘pattern’. The cycle that abusers go through. I had flashbacks to an incident over twenty years ago. An incident I thought I had put in the past and moved beyond. But now it was back. Same recognizable pattern and cycle. And you start to recognize it, and soon you can’t even smile and feel genuine happiness in the ‘good days’ – the ‘Dr.Jekyll’ days. Because, always you knew – Mr. Hyde was but a ‘spark’ away.
NOTE: I wrote this letter two nights ago. This was the night I realized I couldn’t do this anymore. The night I realized if I wanted to live another year, and be happy and smile again. ..I had to get away from this man.
Leaving won’t be easy.
I have nowhere to go. I have no way to get there. I have no money. I haven’t spoken to friends in months. See, this is the unconscious slow imprisonment that comes over you. Before you know it you are dependent on this man – this home. Your options have slowly been depleted. Your finances spiraling out of control. Your friends drifted away. Your car not maintained in operable condition. The subtle entrapment of ‘control’.
But for me there was another ‘entrapment’. Compassion, Pity, and Empathy. I actually loved and felt sorry for ‘B’. He was the true victim here. Yes, I could opt to leave his life, but he couldn’t. He was emotionally abandoned and belittled by his parents. His first wife, his children, all had basically alienated him. He really had no close, intimate buddies. And try as he might by using power, control, and threats – the only way he ‘knew’ to keep someone – was not working. He was being abandoned again.
And it was sad. As it always is. Because most abusers are extremely lovable people ‘inside’, where only those who know them intimately (their wives, girl friends, etc) can see the ‘real’ man. And the ‘real’ man is a terrific person. If only….he didn’t control, abuse, overpower, belittle, insult, threaten, rage, tantrum, deceive, and fool – as a means to ‘hold’ those. If only he could see that wonderful man that lived inside of him he would know that he is all he needs to be to hold onto someone. But see, he can’t. Abusers feel deep inner shame. They feel unworthy, flawed, wrong. And they see that, in the past – possibly by one or both parents, power and control had worked to ‘keep’ him, to ‘handle’ him. So he thinks he needs to do the same thing to keep and handle another. And, because of his misconceptions of his self-worthiness and sense of self, because of his lack of ‘personal-identity’, an abuser quickly gets ‘over-attached’ to the women in his life.
If only he knew how truly wonderful he was ‘inside’….
Yes, it hurts a lot to leave this man. But I must.