I have been writing this blog for a few weeks now, and I guess you could say it’s a journey of self-discovery. I realised today that although I have shared quite a lot about my feelings now, I have not given the back story to you. There are some things I am not strong enough to write about at the moment, but today I came to the realisation that abuse is still abuse even if you don’t think it’s “that bad”, and that’s what I’m going to write about today.
Beware this post may contain lots of rambling, as it will be difficult for me to write. Also, I guess could contain triggers for some people.
I’m going to start at the end. I realise this is not the conventional way to start a story but never mind. Here we go: Last week I went to the doctors (you may have read my post “my trip to the doctors”) At one point she asked me “Has anyone ever hurt you?” and I answered “no” quite quickly. My initial thoughts were that this was the honest answer, as I was thinking of abuse, like childhood abuse which so many people have (very sadly) suffered. I thought about it later, and I realised, I had never treated myself as a victim of abuse, even though I don’t think my previous relationship could be described in any other way.
When I was 15, I started going out with the ex, and at first it was all lovely. He made me laugh, he was always there for me – in short he made me happy. But this didn’t last; somehow, without my knowledge, the relationship became toxic and horrible. He became controlling, manipulative and sometimes violent. I always thought it was my fault that he was angry with me, I apologised and cried, and we’d make up. For a few days we’d have that bliss again, only for it to be shattered the next time “I” did something wrong.
This is hard to write because it makes me feel stupid. I stayed in this relationship for close to three years; no one knew about what was going on, because I always tried to pretend everything was perfect. The worst thing is, and I felt embarrassed admitting this to the doctor when she asked “how did you get out of the relationship?”… He broke up with me. Even then, I was begging for him to change his mind, promising I would change, that I would make him happier and I would try harder.
He started a relationship with someone else the day after we split up. That really hurt. But what was worse was that I was completely under his control; as if he had a spell over me which couldn’t be broken. He continued to tell me he loved me and that in the future he wanted us to be together, he continued to use me for sex, whilst continuing his relationship with M, and pretending that he wasn’t in contact with me anymore.
Eventually I became angry. Furious even, I decided to tell M about what had happened: about the lies, the cheating, the violence and manipulation. She didn’t believe me. He had already created a web of lies; convincing M that I was just his crazy ex who wanted him back. He denied everything, and even made me start to believe that I was going crazy. Had this stuff really happened? Was I making it up? He twisted my words, and fabricated horrible lies about me. He threatened to tell everyone my secret, and told me he would make my life hell if I didn’t leave him and M alone.
I was obsessed with bringing him down. I wanted M to know I wasn’t lying. I hated her for taking ex away from me, but also hated him for everything he had done. I was falling apart, and didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I had to let it go. I had to accept that she wouldn’t believe me, and he wouldn’t change. Luckily, he didn’t get into the uni that we had planned to go to together, so off I went to the other end of the country, and they both stayed home and got jobs.
Luckily, this story has a happy(ish) ending. My best friend became my boyfriend, and he is someone who I am able to trust, and know that he would never treat me badly. I know now that after my previous experience, I would see the signs early and get out before I was trapped. In February, M and ex broke up. M sent me a message telling me that I had been right about him; the manipulation, controlling behaviour, insane jealousy, anger…Finally I knew that I hadn’t gone crazy, and I wasn’t over reacting. It was real, and not very nice.
I know there are many people who have been through much much worse than me, and I guess that’s why I always accepted the blame for it, and didn’t get help. But today my doctor said: “If it felt that bad, then it is that bad” and I think she’s right. It has really really affected me, I still have nightmares and flash backs*, severe depression and anxiety**, but little by little I will become strong.
I’ve let him get away with too much damage already, I’m not going to let him ruin any more of my life.
* These are usually triggered by everyday things, like being in a certain place, or something that reminds me. The other day, my boyfriend took my wrist (in a completely non-violent way, to hold my hand) and I was brought right back to some horrible memories.
**This is not the sole cause of my anxiety/depression, but it is definitely a largely contributing factor.