Revelations are curious things, and sometimes the most profound of realizations to some are ones that are so obvious to others. But I suppose, the path to understanding ourselves is more about the journey to the destination than the destination itself.
A recent run-in with my ex, who decided it best to get arrested rather than obey my protection order, left me opening mail from the Domestic Violence Advocate and the Prosecutor’s office. In it, was a request for a Victim’s Impact Statement.
Although the request sent me to my Google Docs and I wrote several pages on several different days, none granted me the words I wished to use. I wanted to achieve a few things:
- I wanted to be cognizant that anything I write will go into the public record.
- I do not want to be weak, but I want him to understand I will utilize my protection order to the full legal extent I am allowed.
Though I still don’t have anything down I feel comfortable sharing, I discovered some things about myself through this process.
- I am stronger than I was a year ago. Rehashing details of our history together didn’t leave me crying and huddled under the comforter of my bed. (An aptly named blanket, by the way.)
- I made a few novel connections (for me), being able to look over the past with the last two years as a buffer.
Of most profound, however, was the sudden awareness that my ex continuously made choices that made me feel unsafe. If I communicated a concern, or a weakness, or a fear, instead of choosing a path that made me feel safe, he chose the opposite. Eventually, I stopped sharing. Yet the last three years of our relationship, I took ownership of my own safety. And the last six months, I began speaking up again. And again, my ex took the path of making me feel continuously unsafe.
In and of itself, this is not entirely new information. But I have been struggling with my relationship with Guy lately, not because he has done anything inappropriate, but because of some unnamed fear. The shoe that never seems to drop, and that doesn’t really even exist.
This, now free of the disabling levels of anxiety, is now me learning to manage my PTSD. I think it has been rising more the last two months in little ways I didn’t quite understand. But I now have the words to explain my emotions to myself now.
“Your ex always chose himself over your safety. That is why you feel this way. Guy has demonstrated, time and time again, that your feeling safe is one of his biggest priorities.”
“You are digging in your heels, because you expect resistance. Your ex often pushed you and manipulated you to do things his way, when you said you didn’t want to do something. Or that you did want to do something he didn’t want to do. Guy is patient. He reassures you that he is okay with your pace. He might speak his desires, but if they aren’t met, you are still SAFE.”
Time. Actions that match words. Patience. Understanding. Respect.
Sometimes I wonder if I had any understanding of what the real underpinnings of a good relationship was. I thought this kind of equality and partnership in a marriage was a myth.
I am still cautious.
Some days I am still afraid of opening myself up to that level of pain again. The only gauge we really have for our future, is what we have experienced in the past, and emotional pain can take a long time to ease. Acknowledging that, while understanding the future is not set in stone, is okay.
I am okay.
I am safe.
I don’t have to do anything that I don’t choose to do.
Trusting people doesn’t mean I am going to get manipulated again.
I am continuing to grow. Continuing to evaluate. Continuing to heal.
For now, that is enough.