Loyalty Through Cruelty

I wrote and posted this during the summer. I ended up deleting it during a writing cleanse but I think it’s an experience of mine that I need to be honest and open about. It was a dark time in my life and it took me a long time to genuinely forgive myself for the shame I felt. When I wrote this, it was because I thought I was taking it out on my relationship at the time for the damage I got from it. Except I wasn’t because that relationship turned out to the start of an emotionally abusive relationship. Which is why, after some consideration, I decided to put it back up here.


I recently read this phrase and it’s been in the back of my mind since.

It’s another phrase that’s best described what some of my past experiences and thoughts were.

It gives me horrible flashbacks to the brief period where I gave my life to someone who I’m still convinced to this day is a sociopath. The twistedness of that relationship still gives me anxiety when I think too much about it. I try and brush it off but at the same time, I feel like if I don’t own the story, it’ll never stop haunting the way that it still does. And I hate that it does. When I talk about it, I come off as moved on from it but deep down, I’m not sure that’s true and I think it’s something I have to be honest with myself about.

I have to be honest that it wasn’t just him. I played a part in letting it last the four miserable months. He may have been a sociopath but I was also really fucked up at the time too. I didn’t like how he treated me but I think I found comfort in how accepting of my love he was and how available he seemed. It was enough to keep me hanging on and ignore the constant red flags. I knew better, absolutely. I knew how cruel he really was but I was so loyal to him because there were times he held me when I was breaking down about my life. Those hugs were comforting when I fell apart. They made me feel… safe. That false sense of security made me tolerate the way he treated me like property and eventually like a sex doll. He was also very smart and I thought I could benefit from that.

In a way, that was true but in hindsight, not for the price that I emotionally paid. Not for the scars it left. It was only four months but it left me a shell of a person after. I didn’t really deal with it when it was over. I just tried to move on with my life and pretended I did. I tried to survive it without working through it because it didn’t last long and I was ashamed and a part of me still is. I didn’t think much of it until the thought occurred to me that maybe I still feel the repercussions of how it left me when my mind thinks it’s going through the same experience again with someone else. That would explain the chest tightness I sometimes feel.

I had trouble dressing confidently for a while because I was scared of my own body. There were times he would try to have sex with me when I wasn’t feeling it and told me that maybe I shouldn’t be dressing so attractive as to not make him horny. What’s sad is that this type of thing would be repeated in my next relationship. I felt confused about my own body. I felt it when I would feel proud of it and he would nod in agreement and then tell me all the areas that could “definitely use improvement”. My body was my body but it didn’t feel like I fully owned it when I was with him. There were times I felt dirty for the way he was talking to me.

He never told me how to dress; he was never possessive that way, but he would make comments about certain stuff I wore. He would tell me he liked something on me but preferred me in something else. Most compliments came with a criticism. He didn’t tell me what to do but he would always try to direct me and be pushy about it. When he asked me to do something, it was almost like a command rather than a request. It was like he was almost trying to instruct me and expected me to obey. He took his time at his leisure when he felt like it but always rushed me about things. It drove me crazy. I used to get nauseous when I remembered the times I got so fed up that I snapped because I would freak the fuck out and yell and he would just stare at me until I calmed down. Looking back, it was almost like he was holding back a smile.

He didn’t keep me from my friends or my life but he manipulated me enough that I kept myself out of my own life. I was scared to have it because being with him was almost like a full-time job. By the time I was fully committed in the relationship, I felt like if I wasn’t around, he’d be up to some shady shit. That should’ve been a sign for me to come to better senses but when you’re emotionally weak as shit, you don’t have that. I was constantly worried about what I knew was the truth but at the same time doing what I could to avoid coming to terms with it. He had my loyalty even though he was so emotionally cruel to me.

I think another part of the twistedness was that he made me feel like I was a part of his life. He got me to participate in his interests. He bought tickets to things for us to do. He introduced me to his friends as his girlfriend and made me feel like so around them. We even spent time at his parents’ place where he was absolutely affectionate with me. It seemed like he wanted me as a part of his life and that was something I hadn’t felt in a long time so I closed my eyes and tried to lie to myself. I thought it meant something even after I found out he was trying to bring another girl into this country to live and also trying to fuck his ex-girlfriend. I tried to make it mean something even though his future plans had nothing to do with me and he would’ve left me abruptly for any of it had I stayed. We acted as a we but it was almost always about him.

For all the times he comforted me, there were more where he left me crying. He stifled laughs a few times during my tears. He would make me cry and then instead of owning up to it, he would pretend he didn’t do anything and try to comfort me with hugs. I would try repeatedly to leave but somehow always found my way back. He rarely said sorry so the times he did, I readily accepted it. Except for the time he shoved me against the wall, he never physically hurt me in any way. I almost wished he did because I would have been smart enough to leave sooner. Bruises on my body would’ve made more sense to me than the bruises I was getting inside of me. Instead, I stayed through the times he made me question whether my right to speak up against him was valid or just me being either overly sensitive or crazy.

I’m ashamed of how fucked up I let myself get in that relationship. I’m ashamed that instead of leaving him, I stayed. I’m ashamed for all the times I gave him to him when I should’ve said no. I’m ashamed to admit that I took my IUD out so that I could give myself a reason to say no to sex with him. I mean, it worked but that’s pretty fucked up. I’m ashamed because recalling this relationship and realizing maybe I’m not quite over the damages and I only got worse with the relationship after that makes me feel pretty sick to my stomach. It makes me feel like damaged goods.

Life after him was a sweep under the carpet. I’ve talked about how damaging it was but never really acknowledged the actual extent of it. I didn’t want to admit to myself the extent of the manipulation that I allowed and enabled. I still don’t but I have to. The relationship was lowkey so I kept the break up that way. He never wanted to participate in my life so when he was out of it, I thought there was no need to acknowledge what happened because no one really knew about him anyway. I buried it away inside me but I didn’t accept that it still messed with me. I’m only realizing this now because I realized the fear and effects from it are still there. I dealt with everything else in my life but I never dealt with or spoke about this. Not even in therapy or counseling.

My relationship with this guy was four and a half years ago. It was a really dark time for me and it’s probably time to stop hiding it and shine some light on it. If I learned anything about facing all the bad shit that’s happened to me and I let happen, it’s that when you share it, it doesn’t have as tight of a hold on you anymore. I’m hoping this is what’s going to happen now that it’s out there.

Complex Trauma Is A Tricky Thing

I hate the word triggered. I think it mostly has to do with rolling my eyes at most of the people and articles who use that word. There’s a preciousness that is implied. There’s a tone of victimizing. There’s a mandatory level of sensitivity because to them, they’re entitled to it. I think that’s what bugs me. The entitlement. Instead of caring, I find myself thinking, sit down. Sometimes shut up. Then I question my level of compassion.

But what happens when it is the definition of what’s been happening to me? Is the joke on me? My body remembers trauma better than my mind can place it. I get paralyzed from speaking rather than stronger for trying to. Sometimes it feels like something about me has been so damaged but it’s not visible. I only suspect this because I’ve been known to punish myself physically in the past for standing by my own convictions. Whether it was through self-harm or binge-eating until it showed and I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. My body understands punishment better than it does self-care.

It’s easy to internalize. To just keep sweeping and compacting everything inside. You can just pretend until you can’t pretend anymore. Because you don’t want to tell people the truth. You can barely tell it to yourself because you think it’s dumb. You’re dismissive of your own reaction to triggers.

Let’s get honest. You’re ashamed. You’re ashamed that you stood up for your own convictions and that has landed in you a shitty spot. Instead of being right back from it, you shut down as a person for almost two weeks. You’re anxious. Sometimes it’s hard to breathe. It gets harder every day to leave your house because there’s a fear in you. Sometimes, multiple times, you’ll wake up suddenly from your sleep. Like you would from a nightmare. Except you can’t remember what it is about. You hate yourself for these things. You don’t really want to talk to anyone about this so you ignore most of your phone calls and texts. Shit, you don’t even look at your phone because if you don’t see, you can’t answer.

Complex trauma is a tricky thing though.

There’s not one thing to pinpoint it to. You don’t even know how to express your own feelings about it. You’re fucking delicate when you don’t want to be. Sometimes it feels like you’re walking around with your hands tied behind your back and you’re walking around blindfolded. Eventually, the blindfold falls off and fuck me, you now see that you’ve been wandering around in a thick fog. Your hands are still tied but at least you can see. Maybe you can find something to try to cut them off against. You’re scared but you’re trying to be brave. You have resilience but you fight with the fact that you let yourself get in this position in the first place. Could you have helped it?

I’m starting to understand that thinking this way is not normal. It makes me feel like an outcast. Maybe it’s because of my underlining fear of rejection. Or my experiences with betrayal and abandonment. The shame gets real. The shame gets even more real when my body feels it before my mind can catch up with it. I can admit this freely through typing on a laptop. I’m in hiding. But to say these words to someone, in person, would result in a lump in my throat and if I can get past even that, a waterfall of tears. Years of gaslighting from those close to me have resulted in a broken trust in myself. I often question the validity of my own thoughts and feelings. I’m getting better at recognizing this though.

I don’t have the nerves to call a friend over to let me curl on their lap and have them stroke my hair. It’s another day in the dark but I’m getting better at talking about it.