***Trigger Warning Strong Mentions of Abuse of All Forms**
But it’s worth it to read.
I was 22, and I have shared this before that I met him in the Kansas state hospital. There is so much about my adolescence and early 20’s that is messed up and scary and me landing there is no surprise. Neither is moving in with a man I met there, 8 ½ years older than me.
I talk about Abigail’s “dad” in regards to him not being here for her and his absence in her life. However I have never spoken about him in regards to the pain he caused me. Not just in his leaving and making the choice to walk away from us both but the pain and abuse he inflicted in our relationship.
In breaking reality is terrifying, heart pounding and unbearable at times. It involves acceptance of what is true versus what was perceived by victims of trauma because mostly we thought what we were experiencing was normal.
There is likely a good majority of trauma victims/survivors who never had their experiences, traumas and abuses acknowledged or validated, when it finally happens it can be a huge struggle to finally say or accept that what happened is TRUE.
This is a place I have started to come to about certain events in my life. It has been so painful and reality shaking that I struggle to grip and grasp onto saying yes this happened and yes it was bad.
The reason why? I didn’t know our relationship was abusive until I had been out of it for six years and had been in therapy for almost one. Once I started to see what boundaries and consent are, what abuse actually means and consists of and my brain began to clear up and show me the reality of our relationship—I was able to see the truth.
It’s a painful reality to accept that someone you loved, that you truly thought loved you and was looking out for and taking care of you was actually abusing and controlling you. He would do things like demand all the change back and the receipt from when I went grocery shopping because he would accuse me of keeping money to go shopping for myself. His constant insistence that I was his property and that he claimed me was the one thing I tried to fight back on because it made me angry. I am able now to look back and see that it was triggering a deeper emotion and trauma reaction from my abusive childhood.
Including the trauma of being considering (and told that I was) “the property” of the people who abused me.
I was never wanted, nurtured or loved the way a child should be, deserves to be. A baby comes into this world, typically to parents who have planned or at least become ready to love the baby coming. Mine did not do that. I was a pawn to them. A nuisance who just got in the way or was along for the ride in whatever they needed or wanted to do.
Weekend drunken parties; sure.
Being told that it was my responsibility as a 10 year old to take care of my younger brother and sister; meet their needs. Even when it meant that my basic needs where not being met; and I was parenting myself.
Being accused of doing things I did not do and being punished for them. Yelled at and violently screamed at and called names. Pinned down and having hands around my throat because I refused to continue to be screamed at by the man who was supposed to be “my step dad.”
I tried to leave that night—to go stay at a friend’s, to be safe. I was scared and he threatened me with calling social services and having me taken away for being a “bad child” or me never seeing my mom, brother or sister again. When my mom came home that night she took his side.
I never thought that what I was experiencing was abuse because it started so young that I thought it was normal. Moving in with Abigail’s dad and starting a “life” with him seemed like the next right step.
I shared at the beginning about meeting Abigail’s dad and in my mind it seemed like the best way to “start over” Here was this man who promised to love me, cherish me and take care of me.
His words were “Nothing is EVER going to tear us apart.”
We started using drugs immediately and it just seemed normal. I started using drugs at 12. With the childhood I had it was a safety mechanism. I coping skill.
The drugs were the only thing that kept our relationship together. When we were smoking crack, pot, meth or doing cocaine we were “perfect together.” But when you are high everything seems perfect – ish. We were relatable and the things we did bonded us. I am not proud of what I did but I am no longer ashamed because I realize now that it’s all I knew how to do.
This is why I didn’t’t realize that what he was doing was abusive. His behavior was all I knew. His sexually abusive ways were so linked to my father and to the other men in my life that weren’t outright abusive; but passive aggressive about it. His forcing me to do what we did didn’t seem unacceptable or my saying no did not seem strange to me because consent was a foreign word.
His controlling behavior with money, calling me property, showing a complete lack of interest in my declining mental health, not calling me or visiting when I was in the hospital was all normal because that was exactly what my parents did. The abandonment was made out to be my fault because I was “the crazy girlfriend who needed to know where he was all the time”
Yet when I really needed him he was out the door. He made the rules, laid down the limits, thought they were unspoken but very well understood.
That form of passive aggressiveness is sometimes almost worse than being hit, or raped or pushed up against a wall with hands around your neck. You always have to be on guard because you never know when the next strike is coming.
To say that Jeffrey used my abuse history against me and to his own advantage is an understatement. Jeffrey knew what to say and do to get under my skin. He knew what he could do to make me complacent and do what he wanted and make it seem like it was what I wanted.
Leaving him was one of the best choices I have ever made. I walked away and gave Abigail a better life, a life with a mom who loves her and gives her wholeness even though in some circles “we are missing an element”
This clear ability to break through the perceptions of who I thought he was ( a deadbeat biological specimen provider) did not break through until I had already had intense therapy and a broken hearted truth experience within myself of who all three of my parental figures were.
Or were supposed to be.
And it all ties into one you see. Each layer of abuse I experienced from each person just added another layer to what I had already been though. Every experience is somehow intertwined with one another and that’s what makes it even harder to break through and accept that reality.
Because I never really knew what abuse was.
It was all normal.
But it’s NOT anymore.