Break the Silence

I decided to catch up on my DVR recordings and I have found myself watching an episode of Oprah. The first guest was a woman who survived an abusive relationship. In her final fight with her ex, he fatally shot her mother in the stomach. He also shot her in the face at point blank range. Her name is Carolyn and she calls her self a visual aide for domestic violence.

 

Carolyn Thomas, courtesy of Oprah.

 

My heart sank. I was just sitting here say I was sensing something, but now I realize that I just had something heavy on my heart.

I was involved in an abusive relationship from August 2008 until September 2009. I haven’t really been open about it. I’ve tweeted a few thoughts and I’ve confided in the two people closest to me. But that’s it. And I guess my spirit is still carrying this, so maybe it’s time I purge.

I’ve long since forgiven him.

I’m still working on forgiving myself.

I met E several months after I moved back home to NY. I was going through the worst depression that I’ve ever experienced from February 2008 until about June. I forced myself to snap out of it as best as I could. I hated that I fell asleep each night with a promise that “tonight will be my last night falling asleep, tomorrow is the day.” I had never been so positive that I would take my own life, but I was at that time. I couldn’t bring myself to. That night that I held a plastic bag and an extremely strong cleaning agent in my hand and I stared for hours. I didn’t follow through. My spirit wouldn’t let me.

I woke up the next morning and decided to look for work. Eventually I began a new job, I went out as often as I could. I tried to fake the funk. I wasn’t okay, but I wasn’t going to continue to stew in my misery either. It was unhealthy and it was disgusting.

When I met E, I wasn’t moved. He was attractive in some ways, but nothing spectacular. He wasn’t dumb as bricks, but he wasn’t brilliant. He didn’t have much. Wasn’t about much. Made me chuckle. But that’s about it. I wasn’t interested. But he was persistent. And I needed a distraction. Being at work and being out worked, but the moment that I returned home, the same demons were in the air.  I said what the hell and we began to talk and text. We went out on our first date, I made my cousin come because I knew I wasn’t interested in this guy. She actually went on our first few dates.

After a couple of months he grew on me. I wasn’t head over heels in love or anything like that. But I could tolerate being around him. He became a permanent fixture in my life, a permanent distraction. I invested too much in him, depended on him to keep me from thinking about the pain that I was still feeling, the thoughts that I was still having. That was the beginning of an unhealthy cycle.

There were a lot of things throughout the course of our relationship that I now see as glaring red flags. I was just too…convinced that this is where I needed to be. In it, I wouldn’t admit to it, but now, I can admit that I made myself feel everything that I felt toward him. The feelings weren’t genuine. It wasn’t love. I told myself it was. I told him it was.

When we began to deal with each other in a romantic way, I was such a shell of the woman that I used to be. I have always been strong minded, strong willed, determined, demanding of respect, independent, confident, etc. But the break up that left me in that depression chipped away so much of me. It was due in part mostly to me, and I was very hard on myself. I convinced myself I was a terrible person. I convinced myself that no one would want me. I convinced myself that if I couldn’t be with her, I was just going to be alone forever until and unless she took me back. When I finally got that she wasn’t coming back, I became more receptive to him. I leaped from one terrible situation to a worse one.

A lot of things happened that shouldn’t have happened. But I didn’t have anyone in my support system who felt that they could or should say anything. So they didn’t. I moved in with him after a short while. No one said a thing. It’s not their responsibility, granted.

But if you see a loved one making huge mistakes- SAY SOMETHING.

It was okay for a while. I accepted the routine of my life. When I discovered that he was cheating on me with one of our coworkers (we worked together) I wasn’t devastated (after all, I wasn’t truly in love). I was disappointed and frustrated with the constant lying. It turned out that he was still dealing with her when we began to deal with each other, I had no idea. He continued to see her throughout. All the while denying our relationship, denying sharing a home with me, and denying dealing with her. Red flag? Red flag? Red flag? Absolutely. Did I go anywhere? Nope.

Most of our fights were about that situation. Just arguements at first. I just couldnt get the whole let me lie even when I’m cold busted routine. It was a sore spot for him, obviously he was GUILTY. But he insisted on mainting his innocence. He played the role well. If I didn’t already know the truth, I might have been convinced. He turned out to be a sick man. He defended his behavior (cheating and lying) at one point by telling me that he went to the doctor and was informed that his heart was failing and he could die any day so he wanted to make amends with her and spend time with her………….. Yeah, I’m not making this up. He created an imaginary illness. There are plenty of other examples just as bad as that. Red flag? Red flag? Absolutely. Did I go anywhere? Nope.

The first time the arguments went violent I froze. It was so unexpected. We were yelling, we were arguing, and he threw a glass against the wall behind my head. I didn’t see it coming and I didn’t know what to do. I’m not going to go into the details of each incident, it’s not important.

I was too proud to ask for help.

I didn’t know who to call and what would I say? Especially after having stayed each time. Especially after kicking him out and allowing him to come back each time. I was ashamed. I can admit that now. I knew better. I know better. But I stayed. That’s how much I thought of myself at that time. That’s what I was worth. And because of all the damage that I caused in my previous relationship, that’s what I deserved. It’s some truly fucked up and twisted logic.

I became a battered woman. I didn’t recognize myself. I was lying to everyone I loved and loved me. “I’m okay.” “I’m good.” “I’m fine.” I couldn’t admit to anyone what was happening. So I didn’t. From February until July I was constantly fighting and in the middle of the craziest experience of my life.

I remember always saying that if a man EVER put his hands on me, I would fight to the death and leave. I always fought back, I couldn’t just lay there and allow some nigga to pummel on me. But I didn’t leave. I’d kick him out. But he’d be back. I didn’t want to keep fighting, but I didn’t want to be alone. Being alone meant facing the reality. Being alone meant asking for help which meant acknowledging and admitting to everything.

I shake my head when I think back on everything. They say hindsight is 20/20 and ain’t that the truth. I hated that I allowed myself to be in such a situation. I hate that I lost myself. Towards the end of everything I was actually just accepting that this is my life. I knew that if I stayed I’d die. Either he would kill me or I would have killed myself. *sigh*

When I do speak on it, I always say that abuse is an incredible thing. It’s not even the physical abuse, that emotional/verbal abuse is way worse. Bruises heal. But I can promise you that I’ll carry that experience with me forever. Wounds like that can take forever to heal, if they heal.

I don’t feel the specifics are entirely necessary. I don’t need to relive each moment. I am just grateful for the two individuals who knew what was happening and actively tried to get me to wake up and not submit. And for the people who knew what was happening and chose not to reach out, not to help? I will NEVER forget. Truthfully, I think I’m more hurt and resentful towards those people, blood and otherwise, who knew what was up and not even so much as said a word.

I can’t keep carrying this with me. I’m not ashamed anymore. I’m not embarrassed anymore. I’m proud of myself that I was able to get out and heal. I don’t care how long it took, it’s not important that I stayed or that I let him back. What matters is that I got out.

It took me nearly a year to get ME back, but I’m back. And I’m grateful for the lesson. Cliche, so what- never say never. I never saw that for myself. I never thought I would be in something like that. I never believed it. Not in a million years. Never would I have imagined myself lying about what’s going on, icing busted lips, sweeping up glass, never. But alas, it happened. And it’s real shit- it can happen to anyone. If your abuser is good, you won’t realize you’re being abused until it’s too late. By the time you get hit, you’ve been abused already. You’ve already been conditioned. It’s a slippery slope. Red flags are not to be ignored.

…I know that was a long read, but I think I needed to get that off of my chest.

I also wanted to put out into the universe a sincere thank you to the two people who were in that truck that night. If they didn’t flash their lights or honk their horns, I don’t truly know that I would be here today

 

 

If you’re in an abusive relationship and you need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, or go to TheHotline.org

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5 Comments »

  1. Oh how terribly sad. I am happy that you have removed yourself from this horror. Domestic violence is wrong and devastating to all involved.

    Carolyn you have suffrered horribly and still have such courage and strength and hope.

    Did this man receive punishment for his crimes, and is he imprisoned?

    Never give up; always hold hope closely.

    • msbyepoleher Said:

      Carolyn’s ex is currently in prison.

      Thank you for your kind words.

  2. You are welcome.

  3. […] scary and discomforting. I ignored red flags in one particular relationship and found myself being abused. Sure that’s an extreme example but it’s a real possibility. Your instincts, those red […]

  4. brownblaze Said:

    It’s always amazes me just how sick abusive men are. I still marvel at how crazy my ex was/is but then I read a story like yours and remember that they are ALL that way. Anyone that consistently abuses someone is SICK.

    I’m glad you’re sharing your story and I know all too well that shame of letting people know where you’ve been. I felt shame about it for YEARS. But it takes those of us that have been through it talking about it and helping others so hopefully someone doesn’t have to reach those depths.

    Thank God you got out.


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