Just a little piece of where I\'ve been...
I have been in an abusive relationship. It took me a great long while to be able to state those words aloud. Not so much because they embarrassed me, but because I had such a hard time believing them. Even now, reading the words, I wince, feeling they are a slight misrepresentation. At times it feels laughable to say such a thing because there are millions of situations far worse. But the words are true and I have learned to see things as they are. I have learned to accept certain facts even though they sting my pride and make my heart ache. I have learned these things and now I am learning to be okay.
My mother works in domestic violence. I do not come from a broken home. I am a strong, independent, intelligent woman. I just fell in love. I state it like that because there is such a temptation to look down on people in these situations and think of how differently you would act. There is the temptation to see these people as weak or even dim-witted. It is easy to think that these situations can be avoided. I know because I have been tempted to think these things. It’s a situation so damaging, with a solution that seems so simple. How could anyone understand unless they’ve been there? In my mother’s job she has clients from all walks of life, from poor people to rich people, from this race of people to that race of people, people speaking broken English at best, and people with Ivy League degrees. Anyone can find him or herself in her office. Anyone can - even the daughter of a domestic violence counselor, from a happy home.
I didn’t really see it as a bad situation. I saw love. I felt love. Every relationship has problems, right? Ours wasn’t chaotic or dramatic all the time like all that crazy shit I was seeing around me. I wasn’t getting burned with cigarettes or having my face slammed into car doors like some girls I knew, or cheated on. I wasn’t ever made to feel ugly or stupid. Actually, it was quite the opposite. He made me feel like I was the most amazing woman he had ever met. I never had to wonder where he was or what he was out doing. He was always with me. I mean he was always with me. I was sharing my life with a very young man. He was older than me in age, yes, but he was a child still. I’m not talking about maturity, though he certainly was not sophisticated. I don’t mean to say that he acted like some obnoxious teenager, who wouldn’t grow up, though sometimes he did. He was a child in a way that a man is when he doesn’t have a solid relationship with either his mother or his father, when he has never felt the security of unconditional love, when he lives in survival mode and doesn’t know it.
Circumstance had created in him a combination of innocence and ruthlessness that had always gotten him through life. What he found in me was a sense of belonging and real love. It didn’t come with an unconditional stamp across it, but it was the most he had known and he loved me back with the eagerness of that child who has always been so lonely. Of course there were issues in our relationship. He had a lot of demons chasing him and I had a few of my own. There was no ignoring them but we were happy, mostly. His love for me was genuine and tangible. Anyone who knew us as a couple during this time saw it. It wasn’t my blindness only. But it was also all encompassing, unhealthy, and possessive and there were issues I couldn’t see because I was too close. To that I can only shrug my shoulders. Hindsight is twenty/twenty.
I still get caught sometimes between knowing that for a long time he did really love me, and also knowing that what we had was far too unhealthy to be filed under LOVE. It doesn’t make sense to most people; what I just wrote. It shouldn’t, I guess, but there are some who will read this and know exactly what that kind of inner contradiction feels like. I know both of those ideas to be absolutely true. What we found in each other was another who understood pain. The secret, ugly kind that you don’t speak of out loud but you can feel in someone’s aura. We told each other childhood stories and from those stories came the unspoken understanding that there were also other stories that would never be told. In our eyes we knew that and in our eyes was the promise that we would never let each other fall back into that dark place. And yet, over and over we pushed each other there.
It’s strange to me…seeing it all now in my mind’s eye. We were the closest when we were hurting…even if we were hurting each other. It somehow made our bond stronger. That’s crazy, right? That is crazy talk. I know it is. So many bruises I counted, so many tears and apologies…swollen faces…bloody razors. Where is the love in any of those things? That is not love. THAT IS NOT LOVE. Yet somehow it would always end in an embrace that took away the pain. Lying in each other’s arms, holding onto each other so tight that our hearts began to beat together, entangled until you couldn’t tell whose limbs were whose. Crying sincere tears of shame, and wanting only to start again and never end up back in that moment. So scared to lose the one person who sees you and breathes you and needs you to complete them. Wanting only to be happy in love again and lift each other up. We would never fight like that again, not ever. Not until we did.