Today, I want to take some time to talk about my own abuse and hurt. Like many kids in the 80s, my family was dysfunctional. Fortunately, my parents divorced when I was young. I’m still working through a lot of trauma from that time in my life, but it’s whatever. This story isn’t about that. This story is about the time I was in an abusive relationship for, like, 4.5 years.
He was smooth and charming. He was handsome and cool. He is my worst nightmare. Literally. When I close my eyes and think about someone attacking me in an alleyway, it’s him. A 6 foot-something blond dude with big feet and crazy eyes wielding a knife. I see him. I still have nightmares about him chasing me, catching me, trapping me. I don’t know if that will ever stop.
He will tell anyone that will listen that he never hit a woman because his wife filed a police report against him in AZ in the mid-2000s. She had more balls than I did. I called the cops several times but never filed a police report because I didn’t want to have to deal with proving things. It was harder to prove that your ex was the person that left a program from his sister’s band concert and stabbed all of your tires in 2002 than I hope it would be today.
Neither of us were particularly good or healthy people. We had issues.
The first time I got beat to seizures was in our guest bathroom. It wasn’t the first time I got beat. I don’t even think it was the worst time I got beat. I can’t remember a first time. I can remember four distinct times though. There was the first seizure, the time he beat me to throw up the sleeping pills, the time he kept pushing me into the closet and yelling “What are you doing? Why are you throwing yourself into the closet,” so our roommate wouldn’t know what was going on, and the last time when he ripped my clothes off, and I ran and called a friend (after I called him a couple of times for practice over a week to come and get me when I was at work). It’s hard to leave. It’s hard to understand how it happens too.
Like a lot of people, my abuse started with emotional and verbal abuse. Then isolation. Finally was physical abuse.
The cycle was a typical narcissistic relationship cycle- idealize, devalue, discard. I had almost gotten over it when the last discard phase lasted several months. Then, he called. I was hooked. It helped that I did something that made him feel uncomfortable, like he tried so hard, and I didn’t appreciate it because part of my trauma was codependency. People-pleasing. I had to fix it. We wound up moving in together, and we lived together in, like, 6 places in two years. That is not healthy.
I stopped hanging out with family and friends. I was told that if I left, it meant I didn’t love him. I shouldn’t come home if I went out. I had nowhere else to go. I didn’t know any better. We didn’t have good messages about what to do if you’re in a domestic violence or intimate partner violence relationship. Its better today- awareness and education. It didn’t help that my parents told me that once I was married, it wouldn’t be their business if I was getting beat. I never married that dude, but still. It does a lot more harm to create these barriers to coming home than good.
So I stopped going out. I stopped doing a lot of things. The beating started…it’s hard to pinpoint it. It seemed like it was accidental at first. We would be playing, and he wouldn’t like something. Then, he’d hit me or grab me a little too hard. I remember a time when we were living at his mom’s place, and we had a disagreement. I can’t even remember what it was about. I remember he grabbed me by the wrists and held me against something and told me no one would believe me because we were in his house and his family loved him. I remember that. No one would believe me. Even though his aunt told me to tell her if it ever happened, I internalized that she would not believe me.
Being in this place, sharing my story, is hard. It hurts. I don’t want to stay here long. I am not checking my journals to revisit this time, but they’re there. They’re a reminder that this was real. It happened.
Getting out seemed like a mystery. I knew I was unhappy, but it wasn’t clear to me how to change it. Like I mentioned earlier, I called a friend I trusted. We practiced calling him. When it was for real, I stayed with him for nine days (and developed a like hero-savior complex for him where I was totally convinced I was going to be with him because he rescued me but whatever. I told you I wasn’t healthy). During that time, I worked on making a plan. I called my dad. We devised a plan for my dog and me to take a bus across the country. Then, he didn’t hear from me for a few days. He called my mom, and they talked for, maybe, the first time ever in 14 years. She called the police. They came and checked on me. I called my mom. My stepdad and she came to help me move back home. They kept all the people from my previous life away.
That was the only way to truly leave. Stay the fuck away.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of this dude trying to contact me.
Like most abusive relationships, the abuse and torment didn’t stop when you leave.
He called me. He had other people call me. He came by and stabbed all four of my tires one night. He left a band program on my car. He told people I would tell them he beat me and that I was lying. I had to change my phone number like 8 times. I have journals about this relationship and the leaving and the pain and the nightmares that still happen. I got social media requests and messages. I have blocked him on every single platform I am on.
And yet, just months ago, I had popped on Facebook to see something (I’m not on social media too much these days. Deleted my apps. Hallelujah), and there was his face.
I had blocked him. I blocked all of his profiles. [checks against the block list] Yeah he’s blocked, so why is his face there with Facebook telling me I might like to connect with this person? That’s right because one thing abusive people may do is create new profiles with new email addresses all the time. Constantly reinventing themselves.
So, will the torment ever truly end? Probably not.
We have plans in place in case I ever see him in public or if we are ever in the same place (like our high school reunions because yes, we went to high school together) or if he ever flies to where I am intending to do me harm. I will never be friends with him, and I will unfriend people who are friends with him. I am conflicted because he is entitled to his own story. He is entitled to growth and change, but he can do it without having anything to do with me. He will always be my monster, my worst nightmare, the thing I fear most in this world.