Loyalty Through Cruelty

This is another repost. I wrote this last year and have since owned the story to rest it in peace. It doesn’t haunt me or give me anxiety the way it used to. I don’t feel shame from recalling it anymore. 

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 awhile 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 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. 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 myself 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 of 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 three 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.

Five Years

flat lay photography of calendar

 

2014 – I tried to take on too much without proper energy or support for it. I wasn’t aware of what was going on or what I was doing and ended up, in a way, giving up on myself. I was struggling real bad without knowing how to cope. I didn’t know how to talk about it because I didn’t really understand what was going on. I was breaking down and fucking up real bad. It was when I was starting to hide from the world and myself. Instead of growing, I was breaking down.

2015, I was in denial about everything that was going on. I was being self-destructive and reckless. I pretended I was having fun when I was feeling empty inside. I knew there was something wrong with me but I didn’t know what it was. I thought I was going crazy at one point. I used a broken friendship to help lie to myself even further. I tried desperately to escape the emptiness without really know how. I was wearing myself thin and feeling emotionally exhausted. I was researching like crazy to figure out why I was the way I was. I hated myself and my body.

2016, I was a shell of a person and felt like I had to start over. I didn’t trust myself anymore but I was starting to get some help. I was seeing a counselor here and there. I started trying to connect with the world again and fumbling. I still didn’t have a sense of self though. I was still trying to escape myself by fucking around. It felt like I was groping around in the dark trying to find something. I had a lot of pent up anger about the way my life was going and didn’t know how to let it out. I was pretty negative. I was really mean to myself. I hated my body. I can’t believe I almost got fucking married to someone who I threw a blender at because that’s how much I started snapping. I went through some heavy family stuff that I had to shoulder and awful support from someone who I was going to get married to. I was really stupid. Oh my god, so stupid.

2017, I finally admitted to myself that I needed help. Like serious help and I had to get over the shame of it. I finally had to come to terms that I was putting myself through a lot because of the trauma that happened to me when I was younger. I couldn’t keep living how I was living anymore. I needed to learn to connect properly and get out of my own head. I started seeing a counselor more seriously and that helped. I was learning to open up. I started sharing myself with the world more instead of just hiding. It felt awkward. It felt weird. I had to do it though. I had to challenge all the bad stuff I convinced myself about myself. Maybe I wasn’t as dumb as I told myself I was all these years. Towards the end of it, I was improving but I still felt empty. I went on anti-depressants and it helped me but didn’t fix me. I snapped in a couple of ways but good ways. I was ready to do good for myself.

2018 was tough. I was going to weekly trauma therapy because I realized what was going on with me was pretty bad. It was so tough because I had to be raw in a way I’d never been in my life. I had to admit and talk about things I’d never told anyone. Suddenly there was an unexpected death that affected me deeply and I found myself crying in a way I’d never done. I had a breakdown that was, in hindsight, a healthy one. I learned how to not repress feelings like I once did. I still wasn’t learning to cope properly. It didn’t help that I got roofied in May and woke up in an alleyway. It was one of the scariest experiences of my life and left a hole in my invincibility shield I thought I had. I dated someone briefly who showed signs of being emotionally abusive. I started to recognize the signs even though I didn’t process them well at the time. At that point, I had stopped seeing my therapist and was off my antidepressants. But I went back to my counselor who helped me with clarity. I was going through some same old experiences but started to cope better. I stopped trying to escape and started opening up to people who made me feel safe about what I was going through. I started to learn things like love and trust properly. I started to believe in the value of myself. I stopped tolerating inconsistency and confusion. My old coping mechanisms were no longer working, no matter how I tried to go back to them. I made the decision to go back on anti-depressants after a bad workplace experience left me shutting down for a good while and I couldn’t even get out of bed. I’m not sure if I’m only going to need them temporarily or forever. I don’t really want to think about it. I’m just glad they’re helping. My friends let me learn not to rush the emotional recovery I needed and I learned to accept their support without feeling like a burden.

2019, I feel more self-oriented than ever. I’m learning to love the body I have even though it’s not as lean as I was chasing to be. I don’t feel the loneliness or emptiness I once have. I don’t escape anymore because I can face things better than I once did. I don’t hide anymore and have learned to show the world who I am because I’ve learned to show it to myself first. I like taking care of myself and have never felt as good as I do lately. It’s only a couple of months in and I’m still an embarrassment but you know, I’m not harsh at myself about it. I don’t drink as often or even close to what I used to. I’m less earnest and am starting to see the world in the way I’d like to see it. I don’t feel like I’m recovering anymore and feel like I’m finally starting to live. I can be myself and not feel like I’m stupid for it. I let other people accept me for me. I’ve got the right kind of love. I recognize what’s the effect of trauma and what’s actually normal. I know who can sit with me and who can’t. I feel like a person.

I’m feeling life.