Trigger warning: abuse
When you’re at the bottom, it’s very hard to see the light.
You’re stuck at the very bottom of the pit and all you can do is try to protect yourself from your own thoughts.
That’s what happens when you’ve survived the cruelty of the world.
A long time ago, I would have called myself a victim. People would come to me, telling me how sorry they are for the things I went through.
I would take their words and store them inside my heart for the self-pity I would drown in when the night fell.
For so long I’d been that desperate for people to tell me I was good enough and tell me that I was strong enough to move on.
There are times when our mind doesn’t allow us to give ourselves a pep talk. We have to dig deep through those intrusive and dark thoughts, just to find a glimpse of something positive.
My mind wasn’t any better, as I did suffer through those thoughts that didn’t allow me to heal at all.
When you trust someone that much and then they deceive you, you wonder how you can ever trust anyone else.
So I didn’t trust others, just like I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust their words and or my own eyes.
I know that it’s a product of the trauma I went through, but it was also something that I’d use as a way to keep myself safe.
You see, I grew up with parents who thought that putting a roof over my head was the biggest act of kindness that I will ever experience in this world.
Yes, I was thankful to them for that, but they could’ve done better, because I lacked emotional support.
No one understood me and I was forced to keep myself together with my young, childish hands.
I grew up like that. Always having to take care of myself.
My friends would tell me that I should be grateful for that fact, but it didn’t help me to understand love.
So when I grew up, my only thought was to love and be loved. I tried to find that love and understanding in someone else.
That’s why it was so easy to fall in love with him.
When you don’t have a clear picture of how love should feel, you confuse many strong emotions with love.
I thought that my love was true simply because I craved him.
I needed him to be next to me all the time. And the thought of seeing him with someone else made me go crazy.
Now I wonder how I could have ever confused those obsessive thoughts for love. But when you’ve never known love, it’s quite easy to lose yourself.
He would give me crumbs of what love should be and I ate it up because I was that starving.
I hoped to create a love story better than any book has ever told. Who would have thought that it would turn into a horror novel?
After a while, he started taking my phone away. Like parents would do to their kids to punish them.
He said that my coworkers were annoyingly persistent and that they didn’t have the right to text me that much.
He would get so upset by the sound of notifications or the vibration of my phone that I always had to keep it on silent.
This man would actually take my phone away from me and at the time, I thought that he was doing it to protect me from something.
When you’re groomed to believe that this is a sign of love, imagine all the other things you accept.
Because I did.
Whenever he’d tell me that one of my friends had a crush on me, he demanded that I immediately stop hanging out with them.
He said that he knew how a man’s mind worked and that he knew them better than I do.
He didn’t stop until I had no friends left. He’d always find something wrong with them – from how they dressed to the way they talked.
Everything bothered him – and I let him draw me away from all my friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go down without a fight. I’d question him, yell at him, and even cry from the exhaustion those fights brought with them.
Whenever he’d see that I wasn’t letting up, he’d pull the “So you want us to break up, is that it?” card.
He threatened to leave me so many times that I lost count. I was so scared of losing him back then.
This man convinced me that he was the best thing to ever happen to me.
He told me that I could never find someone who loved me more than he did, and he actually made me believe that.
So when he made an effort to convince me that my family was a problem, I started to seek help.
I asked my family what I could do because it didn’t make sense to me.
That’s when I started spending more time at home, which only made him even madder.
In the middle of the night, our front door shattered and he actually barged into our home, forced me out of the house, and then promised to never let me out of his sight again.
Imagine the shock. The horror. It was like in one of those movies where everyone begged the female character to leave the man but she knew if she did it, he’d come for her. Who could guess what he’d do if I actually left him?
Everyone was pitying me for the scars and bruises all over my arms and neck. Sometimes, they would even pretend not to see them.
So when I filed a restraining order and went to therapy, people started to pity me even more.
Like I was so weak and fragile. They’d say they understand why I was a victim, because I was always so soft.
They never understood the strength it took to leave an abuser.
So I’m changing the narrative! I am not a victim any longer, and to be honest, I never was!
I’m a survivor, because this man took me through every circle of hell there is and I’m still here.
I’m staying strong for myself and for all the women who are going through the same thing.
We are no one’s victims. We are not some data for feminists to use on their protests.
Women like me are survivors. Strong, capable, and smart.
It takes so much strength to get out of that situation and still keep your mind and heart together.
It’s a fight that doesn’t allow you a moment of weakness.
That’s what we’ve been through. I am a survivor and you are, too.
So be brave enough and share your story. Because you’re not alone.