Sunday 8 November 2020

Abuse - My Comfort Blanket

|Trigger warning.|
The following contains adult content, my experience with mental, verbal and emotional abuse, mental health struggles. Reader discretion is advised.

At 18 years old I had decided what I was going to do. I was in love. Oh, so in love. Within two years I was a full time carer for my ex partner. It was a lot. To be honest it felt like the worlds easiest decision. Like, who wouldn't want to spend every waking hour with the person they love?

-hint of sarcasm, isnt hindsight fun?!

Fast forward to 2013 to when I was 23 and he ended our relationship. This was one of the most painful days of my entire life. I rang my mum – I don't remember this but I'm guessing it was pretty emosh. I had to ask my mum if it was okay for me to move back home, she was incredibly understanding and said yes in a heartbeat. Within a few hours I was on her front doorstep.

-would you believe me if i told you that i hung the washing out before i left? -__-

I was in so much pain, the type of pain that I was unable to describe. I remember I slept in my mums double bed that night. I left my phone downstairs so as not to be disturbed/not to be checking it every 6 seconds. When I got up the next day I looked at my phone. He had messaged me. He was full of regret and just wanted everything to be okay and to be together again. That he'd made a mistake. I felt a whirlwind of things which confused me. I was happy, we'd been together for about 5 ½ years and you don't just throw that away do you? But there was a small part of me that felt disappointed. It felt like I had been set free... and now re-captured.

Over the course of our relationship I was on the receiving end of mental, emotional and at times, verbal abuse. Not only from him but from his father. Now, let me be clear, this isn't a roast or an opportunity to 'spill tea', this is my life and this is what I went through. It wasn't like walking on eggshells, it was walking on Lego. Every step I took hurt me. While I looked after the two of them I did my best to make them happy and it came at the cost of me and my well being. I once described to a therapist that living in that house with my father in law (so to speak) was like living with a grenade. No matter what I did, how much I sweat, how many things I took on to lighten his load, it was always inevitable that he was going to explode. My partner and I often being the casualties. Each and every day was filled with fear. I tried to predict everything. Chores that needed to be done, dogs that needed to be walked, shopping that we would need etc.. Whatever I could think of to prevent a blow up. God, it was exhausting. Him having a good day meant that my partner would have a good day = mission accomplished.

Me? Who??

I kept it all inside. I never told a soul. Somehow I managed to keep my family in the dark. I kept them completely separate from my life there. Not once did my parents visit when the men of the house were home. I had tremendous anxiety about specifically my dad meeting my father in law. I knew he would be able to see right through and, as a result, he would see what I was living with. If my parents had had any idea of what was going on they would have been round like a shot packing my bags and bringing me home. There was a part of me that wanted that but there was an even bigger part that felt I deserved what my life was. The pain became familiar. The gut wrenching anxiety would eventually become just a part of daily life. There was always an undercurrent of me feeling like I wasn't good enough. Nothing I did was enough. I was wrapped up in a world where perfection was something that was seen as achievable and anything less was shit and unacceptable. The tears I shed in that house haunt me. I remember laying on my bedroom floor crying as quietly as possible

-because heaven forbid they did anything wrong or upsetting

praying that I would be taken away from that place. I couldn't understand why no matter what I did it was never enough.

My partner and I would have arguments, but nothing would ever come of it. Nothing changed. I loved him wholeheartedly and would have done anything for him. When the relationship ended I felt a sense of relief because I was free from them and their clutches. But when I woke up that morning and read the text he had sent me, I was being called home by the person I love. But I was also being called back to prison. How long would my sentence be this time? With every fibre of my being I couldn't fight the urge to go back. Their hold on me was stronger than my will to fight for my freedom. After a year he ended the relationship again, this time for good. Once again I was making that phone call to my mum asking if I could come back home. More pain. I wouldn't care to admit how long I waited for a text from him asking me to come back. Telling me that he'd made a mistake again. Saying me how much he missed me. Making more promises that things would be better. That message that never came.

Having not been in that situation for some years now, I can see it for what it was. It took me such a long time to be able to see the pair of them flawed in any way what so ever. For so long, I took full responsibility for everything and wouldn't hear a bad word said about them. Now? Not so much. How I was treated and what I went through wasn't acceptable. And that's putting it lightly. Out of everything, I feel anger towards myself for not leaving. Both times that I tasted freedom, it wasn't due to me recognizing my self worth or knowing that what was happening was wrong. I was pushed out. Thrown out like garbage. It well and truly cemented for me that to them, I wasn't enough. Never was, never would be. I didn't see it as abuse, I just thought that for someone you love, you'll put up with anything. When looking back, it isn't what they did that upsets me most, it's what I didn't do. I saw the warning signs, had multiple red flags but ran full steam ahead anyway.

A lot of who I am has been tied to what I am able to put up with. What pain I can withstand. How many times you push me away for me to still be willing to stand there when you come back. I wish I could say that after this relationship I am a changed woman but that would be a lie. I have gone on to be on the receiving end of abuse from others and I still don't quite understand why. It has gotten me into, some would say, more dangerous situations to still have the same outcome. Abused and alone. Heartbroken and depressed. Scared and empty. It almost feels like being abused in any way is some kind of a comfort blanket. It's familiar, it's known territory and I can play the role of the obliging servant very well. When it comes to other people and making sure their needs are met, I'm level 1000% but when it comes to me? Nah, why waste my time.

Out of everyone who has used and abused me, I am by far the worst culprit. Filling my head with everyone and everything else making sure there's no room left for me because God forbid I take care of myself. This is what it always comes down to. The root of it all. I don't see me. And if I can't see myself how can I be there and look after me? My lack of self worth has led me down a long and dark path. It has contributed to my mental health issues, my poor lifestyle choices and just all round bad decisions to be honest. By continuing to not be a priority in my life, I don't particularly have one. No idea what I want, where I want to be, who I want to see, what I feel is fair or unfair treatment, acceptable or unacceptable behaviour towards myself... It truly is life destroying.

Having recently left an incredibly abusive relationship I am trying to pick my life up. I would say 'back up' but I'm not sure I ever held it to begin with. I've always allowed others, whether family, friends or partners, to choose for me. With everything. I need to try and understand that at 30 years old I am capable of choosing the path myself. In 2018 I came the closest I ever have to building a relationship with myself but it slipped through my fingers, landed on the floor and has been being kicked around and gathering dust ever since. I am on a journey of self acceptance and forgiveness. I don't believe that I ever meant to hurt me, I just didn't particularly care if someone else or the consequences of my decisions did. I am realizing more and more often how short life really is and I don't want to take it for granted or treat myself like I am nothing. I put up with the abuse and what did it get me? It didn't make him love me more, it didn't make my father in laws respect for me grow. What I got from it was lessons. Lessons of what not to do perhaps.

Life is challenging enough, I don't need to weigh myself down even further by piling up things that aren't mine to carry. I hope that you won't either.

As always, sending you love and kickassery 😏💪💋💖

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