While I never sought to be abused, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that need to be addressed. Whatever spurred me towards selecting the man who would cause me so much emotional turmoil is yet to fully heal. I was vulnerable in my own damaged way before, and now I have the years of marriage to deal with on top of that as well.
There were good moments. The cycle of abuse, which ebbs and flows throughout the passage of time, helped bind me even midst the darker minutes.
Perhaps, as well, there was a little bit of arrogance. I took pride in the sacrifices I made, early on. Perhaps it was because there was so little else for me to take pride in. Something in me, based on my childhood of caregiving for my family and siblings, felt uniquely qualified and prepared to be in a relationship like ours would be. I needed to be needed.
My mistake was believing he cared about my needs, too. He did… only insomuch as it took to bind me too him, or make his own life easier. When he did give me good gifts, it wasn’t enough just to give them to me, he had to have an audience.
Yet there were other voices egging me on, as well, the religious murmurings of my upbringing, my family’s dedication to loyalty, to second chances, to not giving up on the people we love. Pressures from our social circle, I think, also pushed us towards marriage early.
There are so many times, in the course of our relationship, where I wanted to say no. And didn’t. Whatever little instinctual voice tried to warn me away initially, I ignored. He was my first of everything. And until we got married, I fell hard for the front he offered me, the caregiver. The protector. Someone who wanted to figure out my needs and meet them. All the things that so quickly fell by the wayside when he realized I wasn’t the magical thing that would suddenly cure his depression, and struggles, and deeply rooted unhappiness.
So, while I never asked for any of the things that happened to me, there are still many things I have to own. Still work that I need to do for me. Ignoring my voice, for one. Addressing my struggles with worth. Recognizing that I need to be happy with myself, and not needing others to provide that. As well, I have to learn to be brave. It was hard to be honest with my ex about my fears when that honesty sent him either into a rage, or a depression, or suicidal. I allowed myself to be manipulated into silence, often hiding his secrets against my better judgement. I allowed myself to take responsibility for things that were not mine to take.
I started realizing many of these things while still within my marriage, but at the time habits, history and exhaustion made change a struggle.
So now, I am taking ownership of the only thing I can. Myself. I’m going to be strong enough to stand on my own two feet. Strong enough that I can help others without enabling them. Strong enough to say no, when I need to say no.