Domestic abuse can affect anyone, it is hard to talk about if you’ve experienced it yourself, but hearing first hand how it can make you feel can also give someone strength, hope, courage and the power to take a step needed. However, reading about someone’s experiences can also be quite upsetting or traumatic for others, so please remember to take care of yourself when reading about personal experiences. If you feel uncomfortable, there is no shame in reaching out to a friend, colleague, loved one, for that support. Thank you for reading my blogs, and for being a supportive bunch of readers.
I think you know who you are. I never need to say your name anymore yet the sheer thought of it sends shivers down my spine. Not the good sort either.
You took so much from me, you don’t even realise it. Maybe you do. To the outside world it seems like you don’t, but now that isn’t important. Why? Let me explain.
I was once this person who had a love for life, a little bounce in my step and a spark for all things I did. Then you came along and turned my world upside down, inside out, and left it spinning. You gave me everything I ever wanted, and never wanted at the same time. The things you expected in return were, to me at the time, normal. With every ‘normal’ day came another hole in my life, another dark shadow in my head, and another scar or bruise to tell the tale of a day I forced myself to survive.
This ‘normal’ paid its price on my identity. The bright, colourful, confident person I once was, became an empty shell. Something that just purely existed in this world that didn’t experience any joy, any happiness or any peace. This was because you became one thing to me, my abuser.
All those times you you whisked me off my feet, you showed me that you loved me with those magical days out; amazing gifts and the beautiful flowers you would present to me. Only to insist on the gratitude, the level of thanks which could exceed any length of time that suited you. Only to get jealous when someone else gave me flowers, or a gift. Leaving me to hide them and enjoy them in secret, for fear of upsetting you. The guilt of receiving any form of thanks or kindness from anyone else had become a huge fear over time. This was my ‘normal’ now.
When you successfully taught me over time how to behave in front of all the people you approved of. Made sure you taught me who you didn’t like, convinced me that my friends made me a bad person. That they were a bad influence, they were ‘toxic’ because they made me laugh, made me smile, gave me the confidence to give life a chance without you. You didn’t want me near them because they allowed me to be the person I was, the person I wanted to be, the person inside. To have a voice, and be honest. To have fun and to take part without you by my side. I soon learnt who those people were and I soon found a way to avoid them, to let them down, to tell them I was not that person they knew anymore without blaming you. Without telling them it was you who didn’t like them, I didn’t let on to them that it was because of you I stopped enjoying all those things. I did that for you, you didn’t even realise that when you were shouting at me though did you? When you were screaming at me for not putting you first? Was it apparent when you called me selfish that I had given up all my friends for you?
Remember when you kept poking at me every single time I wore clothes that you didn’t like? You would comment on everything I ate, the way I looked, when I gained weight, and even when I lost weight. At what point was my reflection ever going to be good enough for you? The times when an effort was made and then the insults came, the accusations flew thick and fast because it was assumed the effort I made was for someone else. Did you ever begin to notice that I stopped eating? I always ate elsewhere, or ate earlier in the day so it wasn’t an issue at meal time. What about when I stopped wearing nice clothes? That didn’t register either. You did that, you made me hate the body I have so much, every little piece of it, to the extent I still cant look in a mirror without saying how much I hate myself. Was this your goal?
You made me feel like I was losing my mind on a daily basis. Constantly telling me how tired I was, reminding me that I was forgetting everything. Telling me I was not remembering things correctly, and incapable of carrying out basic tasks. Even when I was sure I remembered, that I hadn’t forgotten, that I knew I could manage. You made me doubt myself so much I lost my confidence in the things I loved. In myself.
You used to lay there at night listening to me crying myself to sleep, only to wake me up again to make more tears fall. So long as you got your apology that was all that mattered. You always got your apology didn’t you? You also always got your sleep, I made sure of that, it didn’t mean you were grateful. You had your requests which needed to be met, tears or no tears. You never noticed them did you?
You hurt me in more ways that I ever knew was possible. To have the ability to put me in that constant state of fear without it seems, even trying. To be a person who says they are caring and protective, yet so scary and frightening at the same time. To be able to silence me from across the room with a single look, to be able to respond to a room of people on my behalf without so much as raising an eyebrow amongst the crowd. You think no one saw, you think think no one noticed. I thought the same too, because I didn’t realise how much I’d lost my voice, how much I’d lost my name.
You shrunk me to nothing, but it didn’t go unnoticed. By shrinking me down so small you gave me the ability to hide away. This was such a change for me that this actually meant I was seen more. I now realise this wasn’t what you had hoped at all, but it is what happened.
What do you think of this person, who has managed to pull someone down so far, they’ve at times considered if even living is worth it. That they have so much pain in their heart and mind that they would at times seek solace in physical pain just to manage it. That they need to work hard everyday to repair and rebuild the damage that you caused them?
Do I miss the person I used to be? No, I don’t actually miss anything about her. Do I mourn her? Maybe a little sometimes if I am honest. The person I am today is growing stronger than ever, and will achieve more than that person ever could have managed to in that situation.
The reason I am growing stronger is down to all you did to her. The lessons you taught her, the life you gave her, and most of all the family you gave her. So by shrinking that past me down so small, you’ve made me better than ever.
I will never forget what I have experienced, or felt, and will have to live with it for the rest of my life. There will always be times when I will wish I didn’t have to remember. There are also going to be many opportunities to make amazing new memories moving forward. Along with memories, come dreams, and hopes. I now have hopes, something which I never really had before. My biggest hope for moving forward is that the two versions of my life will merge into one amazing butterfly.
The wounded version who’s healing and always present, who has the occasional wobbles, and the version of me that creeps out sometimes stronger than ever.
So you see, You don’t need a name, you never will. The lessons learnt from the memories are what I need, the strength they’ve given me is what deserves the name. That name is mine.
Why do I reference to a butterfly? Butterflies can never see the beauty of their wings, or how well they healing after they’ve been wounded. The only time they know when they are fully healed is when they fly high. Their strength is hidden until they soar.
So, if you’re reading this wondering how long it’ll be before you fly, remember to be that butterfly, and fly when you’re ready.
If you’re reading this and still wondering why you don’t need a name anymore, it is because I now have one.