My mom always told me, “Do not ever let a man hit you – if he does, please leave. Leave right away. No one deserves to be abused. No one. Run away.”
“Okay, I know,” I always said to her, jokingly rolling my eyes, “I know.” I always repeated in a hushed tone when she’d touch my hand afterward to make sure that I understood what she meant.
I remember simply nodding in agreement while in passing and never thought about it again, but the look in her eyes will forever haunt me.
“That’ll never happen to me. I won’t let that ever happen to me.” I always thought to myself, basking in the pure naïveté and ignorance of my youth.
I watched my mom go through two abusive relationships which led me to grow up thinking that it was okay to be treated this way and that this is what love was supposed to be like: passionate, erratic, fiery, and intense. And I watched the light within her fade slowly throughout the years, not really understanding why. I only understood that those two fatherly-figures hurt my mom and I both in ways that left us broken beyond belief. And that this shit was fucking normal.
“Run away. Run away. Run away.”
It was 5 in the morning on a cold January day filled with stifled giggles on a friend’s floor and a strong, tattooed arm was wrapped around me, pulling me into his chest and making me feel safe for the first time in my life. He didn’t try to kiss me or anything beyond. He didn’t seem to have an ulterior motive.
He made me feel something I’ve never felt before: the feeling of home.
He was so good. So, so good.
There was a moment when we were tangled in complete ecstasy and he gazed into my eyes while grabbing me by the throat and pressed his forehead against mine, “I’m falling so in love with you. I am in love with you. I want you.” he managed to whisper against my lips, “I don’t know where I end and you begin.”
And I fucking fell for it.
My father-figures turned me into such an easy target for an abusive narcissist/sociopath like him. I was left feeling so alone, useless, worthless, replaceable, and vulnerable from them. I drank up every little word, vulnerability, gesture, and gift he ever gave me because I felt so needed. I’ve never felt like that before.
I recall instances where I’d look at him and wonder how I got so lucky to be with someone like him. He was seemingly good at everything and he looked at me in a way that no one had ever looked at me before. The aura that radiated off of him was something I felt I wasn’t worthy of and I felt that being with him was the only way I’d be worthy.
Being with him, I was a version of myself that I never knew even existed. I’ve never been so angry and bitter in my life. I’ve never been so fucking broken.
I still loved him when he lied through his teeth about his life and age. Even when he cheated on me several times. Even when he threatened to kill himself or hurt other people or the dogs every time I tried to leave him. Even when I had to wrestle a knife out of his hand so he wouldn’t slit his wrists or ripping several pills out of his throat when I tried kicking him out. When he started throwing things at me and breaking things because I got home late. When he gas-lighted me, manipulated me, and isolated me from my friends and family. When he drained all my money and blamed it on me. I loved him so hard because I thought this is what I deserved. I accepted the love I honestly believed I deserved.
I thought love was supposed to be hard. I thought it was supposed to hurt.
And the same words echoed in my mind,
“Do not ever let a man hit you…run away.”
He never left a physical mark on me. I took my mom’s advice quite literally and it only took me three years to finally realize that I didn’t deserve this. The mark he left had instilled such fear and anxiety in men with me that it’s traumatizing.
With him, it was like a leaky faucet. Everything came in small drips.
“You can’t wear that. Change. Who are you dressing up for? You are mine.” Drip.
“Give me your phone so I can look through it and see what you’ve been doing.” Drip.
“Delete them off all of your social media and phone, NOW.” Drip.
“You don’t love me if you don’t do this for me.” Drip.
“You’re a piece of shit.” Drip.
“You’re so fucking stupid. Are you retarded?” Drip.
“You make me want to fucking punch myself over and over.” Drip. Drip
“I’ll kill myself if you leave me! I can’t live without you!” Drip. Drip.
“I will break his fucking jaw if I ever see him.” Drip. Drip.
“You are hard to love.” Drip. Drip. Drip.
“I will kill them. I will slaughter their entire fucking family.” Drip. Drip. Drip.
And eventually, the sink flooded. It overflowed. The leaky faucet was now running at full blast as I watched him throw his phone and garbage at me, breaking objects around me, threatening me, accusing me and making up lies of what I did to hurt him and why nothing was his fault. I began to drown with an anchor at my feet, preventing me from coming back up.
There was a gaping hole in my chest that the flood couldn’t fill. I just kept getting dragged deeper into the abyss and I became lost, suicidal, and weak. I was terrified to leave for the longest time – I feared for my safety, my dogs’ safety, and my loved ones’ safety. I couldn’t bear to live with the fact that anyone else other than me got hurt during this. So, I stayed as long as I could.
Abusive relationships are like a drug. An addiction. The highs and lows are so palpable and it was so fucking euphoric when it was good. But, when it was bad, it was the hardest come down from the high. It crashed and burned.
I now understood why my mom had such a hard time leaving and why I find strength in her to leave, even after she passed away.
Even if she couldn’t do it, I know she would’ve wanted me to. She gave me the strength.
And I finally did it, mom. I did it.
For once in my life, I feel like I am actually worth something.
I am fucking resilient, I am fucking beautiful, and I am so fucking deserving of love.
Running away isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe that’s all you can do at this point and that is totally okay. The strength in doing so is enough to start finding yourself and understanding that you deserve so much more.
Her voice saying, “Run away,” no longer echoes in my head anymore. I don’t need to run away anymore.
I am where I’m supposed to be.