Let’s hear it from Ernest Hemingway
“If my Valentine you won’t be,
I’ll hang myself on your Christmas tree.”
How’s that for emotional blackmail?
Let’s hear it from Ernest Hemingway
“If my Valentine you won’t be,
I’ll hang myself on your Christmas tree.”
How’s that for emotional blackmail?
Funny that the month we globally associated with the most powerful emotion of all featured imprisonment execution and martyrdom. Come to think of it, it sounds a lot like a marriage, don’t you think so?
If Valentine day is a place it would be Paris, the city of love with its catacombs, network of dark tunnels and more than six million human remains. A fitting allegory for the most complicated of all relationships__ romantic love.
Where everything is not what it seems and open for interpretation. No wonder there is a lot of broken out there. Broken hearts, broken vows, broken marriages, and so forth and so on.
Here is a quote I find quotable:
“February is a suitable month for dying. Everything around is dead, the trees black and frozen so that the appearance of green shoots two months hence seems preposterous, the ground hard and cold, the snow dirty, the winter hateful, hanging on too long.”
There you go.
Happy Love month people.
“Stephen kissed me in the spring,
Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
And never kissed at all.
Stephen’s kiss was lost in jest,
Robin’s lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin’s eyes
Haunts me night and day.”
“You know how sometimes you tell yourself that you have a choice, but really you don’t have a choice? Just because there are alternatives doesn’t mean they apply to you.”
It is a good excuse to tell yourself when you are terrified of flying out into the unknown. I’ve been there done that. Officers of the law, social workers, lawyers, and well-meaning people including a taxi driver on my way to the airport who told me that I don’t have to stay with that man because look at me, I look like a doll and there are lots of guys who are going to happily fall in line just to get me had advice yours truly to take the money and run or just run.
Picture this: A poor pregnant immigrant girl in a strange land, or a very young mother of two; no family, nowhere to go, she doesn’t speak the language, no diploma, no work, no money. Going back home is not an option. Her family made sure she understands this. The husband warned her of the consequences of trying to run away with the kids. What choices she got? What would you do in her place?
There is more to life than this.
A policeman once told her while kneeling in front of her holding her shaking hands looking her in the eyes with a strange mixture of appeal, pity and something she didn’t understand amidst the devastation her drunken husband had caused the night before in their rented apartment. She heard the words but its meaning was lost to her. It was like watching a film, a fairy tale, she knew the place probably exists somewhere but far away, and not for her. Never for her. So, she just smiled and nod and closed the door. This is the reality she thought. This is her world. This is where she belongs…
Do you know the boiling frog story?
If a frog is placed in cold water and the heat is slowly turned up, the frog does not realize that it is in danger—until the water reaches the boiling point, and then it is too late for the frog.
I have been the frog in cold water, with the water slowly heating up.
I’m lucky. I got out before it reached the boiling point.
There is no way I am going back in.
Abuse is not always physical and it is not always obvious. Emotional abuse leaves scars that are silent and hidden.
My experience of verbal and emotional abuse left me feeling worthless and hopeless. My already low self-esteem diminished even further. I spent most days confused about what it was I had actually done wrong. I walked on eggshells, attempting to avoid tension and conflict. I tried to make sense of my relationship; I tried to fix myself. I put on a mask to navigate the outside world.
I retreated further into myself to avoid seeing my reality. I felt off-center. I no longer knew who I actually was.
My experience did not involve black eyes, broken bones or bruises, but what I did experience wounded me on the inside. Most of the damage lay with losing all sense of self.
Wounds have become scars. Occasionally, the scars still bleed.
They are a reminder to call on all I’ve learned since I walked out the door.
To bring myself back to center and trust in myself.
I am healing.
Not only from the years of being in a domestic violence relationship but from my experiences since birth that led me to stay in such a toxic union for so many years. The experiences that led me to believe I was not worthy of love and respect.
My relationship did not begin with my being called a useless bitch, a fat lazy cow and a worthless piece of shit.
If that had been the case, I doubt I would have gone out with him.
He loved me. He whispered words that made me feel cherished and secure. Worthy. Worthiness based on his approval of me. Approval I had never given to myself.
I loved him. We laughed together; I felt comfortable and safe with him.
I did not listen to the quiet voices in my head—the sick butterflies in my body that quivered and tried to make me aware.
No. I was the tough one who proclaimed that if anyone ever hit me I would leave.
Except he never actually hit me.
Pushing someone isn’t hitting.
Besides, I pushed back.
I yelled back. I fought back.
The abuse crept in slowly and stealthily.
It was subtle.
I was in an abusive relationship and didn’t know it.
I was not aware of the depth of the trauma and damage I experienced until months and even years after I left.
My reasoning for all the fighting, for being so desperately unhappy?
“I wasn’t being abused, because I wasn’t being hit.”
My feelings were denied and minimized.
I was told it was all my fault.
I was told I was ungrateful for what was provided.
I was told I did not deserve affection and that I had to earn it.
I was told I did nothing all day.
I was told that I was the one destroying our relationship.
I was told I was useless. I was told I was useless. I was told I was useless.
Over and over and over and over.
And I stayed.
I believed him. I believed his version of the truth.
I stopped fighting back.
I stopped pushing back.
I stopped calling him names.
I became numb to my experience.
Numb to stop the anxiety, despair, and frustration I felt.
Depression was my protection.
There were days my body collapsed when I got out of bed. The physical pain in my feet and legs stopped me from walking. From supporting myself. From facing the day ahead.
I did not trust myself and my inner voice. I stopped listening to any whispers that remained.
I succumbed to what I believed I deserved.
I believed this was how I would live my life forever.
I did not plan to leave this relationship. In the months before I did leave, my thinking had slowly started to shift. There were moments of clarity. Moments of questioning.
I was in counseling, and I believe that this support was the pathway out of my confusion.
I also opened up to a couple of trusted people close to me. I revealed to them the reality of my relationship. Voicing my reality helped me to see it with more clarity.
I approached a women’s refuge for advice. I was fully expecting to be turned away. I thought, “I’m not one of those women who is hit.”
I was not turned away. These two women sat and listened to me. They spoke with me about what a domestic violence relationship was. I opened up, even more, that day. My thinking shifted again.
The facade was starting to crack.
I was using my voice, and I was being heard.
My new life began when I left my relationship. When I finally realized I was living with a man who—still to this day—believes he is entitled to exert power and control over me.
I can still be pulled out of my center and into his reality, but the majority of the time I live with my truth. I live with the knowledge of my own power and freedom.
It has taken every ounce of strength and courage within me to be able to look at myself and the role I played. And I did play a role. My low self-esteem, my lack of self-love, my belief that I did not deserve more than what I was receiving. It took honesty and authenticity to face myself. To bring my healing back to me. To change me. To love me.
I am proud to see my growth in the years since I left my relationship. I am able to recognize when I am being a victim.
I witness myself.
I have owned and taken responsibility for what is in my awareness.
I have learned to set boundaries.
I have learned I cannot always control what happens to me but I am in control of my reaction.
I acknowledge my darkness and my light.
I have discovered my worth.
I recognize my value.
I am compassionate with myself.
I give myself permission to get it wrong.
I forgive myself for the times I did not get it right.
I am learning to trust my truth, my inner voice, my intuition.
I honor my feelings and allow myself space to drop into what I feel.
I continue on my journey of healing.
Most of all, I continue on my journey of learning to love myself—all of me, including my shadows.
I am lucky. I did not become a frog in boiling water. I got out.
Many women don’t.
I hope that in sharing my experience I will give another woman the courage to trust her inner voice.
To question if she is living her reality, or another person’s.
To open up a pathway out of the confusion she feels every single day.
To find the freedom to be happy and live without a knot in her stomach every morning.
To find her voice and share her experiences.
The clarity to see that abuse does not always involve physical violence.
The right to live a life without abuse in any form.
I want you to know that you are worthy and you deserve to live your life without fear and confusion. You deserve respect, love, and kindness.
Your voice matters. Your feelings matter. You matter.
Years later, across a crowded room, our eyes will meet, linger even. Time will stop for a moment and our love, now past will flash before our eyes like a movie.
He was the man I loved for so many years. He held up my universe inside his pocket and picked up the stars so he could light up my night. I wanted to believe that he loved me too. Because he said so, in whispers, in screams, in his sleep, in his songs, in his eyes. For so many years, I let him invade my heart. He let me love him in my own selfish ways. We have so many misunderstandings we took a few days to settle and solve. And we have past mistakes that came up whenever we argue. He barely understood my own language but he studied it so he could see which part of me was vulnerable to hold.
If we are going to talk about endings, then probably that thing has been overused and was scratched too hard I felt numb. We broke up and we got back again. We stopped yet we started again. We paused yet we decided to keep going.
Yet, all endings always had its own severe ending. The one that makes you realize that it won’t come back. The one that makes you ache for silence because you know he won’t reach out. The ending that we all fear.
But I tried to move out and tried new places, without him. Without his shadow. Without his smile and grips and his voice that calms me down. I tried moving out and started collecting scattered dust until I could have my new universe again. I searched for him in someone else’s eyes and voice. I looked for him in someone else’s skin and smell. But I realized he was the only one. He was one of a kind that no matter how many times he hurts me, I could still take it. No matter how many times he forced me to leave, I’d still run as fast as I could in his snap of wave and flash of a smile.
I realized he never holds my universe rather he became my universe. That every time I hear the words love and pain, his face will appear crystallized.
Yet he found his new world.
He found it in you.
Now that you’re with him, you got to understand that he’s unpredictable and changes so often. But as long you could stay, please do.
I might be the girl he had as his dreams form. I might be the girl he got to watch his all-time favorite movies and the first who heard the songs he wrote as he strummed his guitar. I might be his first love as what he called it but you’re with him now.
And you will have him in ways I could never have. I am now a part of the past that will one day be forgotten.
Yet here you are, the one he sees spending the future with and the rest of his life with. The woman he sees growing a family with and pajama cuddles and morning coffees and the hand he’ll hold while traveling the world. The woman he sees sharing the same water bottle and beer-stained kisses, and teases under blankets or the hair he’ll play in his finger and the head that rests upon his chest when you sleep.
And he still has me,
more like a memory,
a told story,
an ending example.
But he has you,
more like a dream,
a vision of wedding aisle,
a wedding dress,
a mother to his children,
a body he comes home for,
a rocking chair,
He looks at you
the same way
I see him.
take care of him.
I am kind.
I am generous.
I am flexible.
I am smart.
I am polite.
I am diligent.
I am a hard worker.
I am cat lover.
I am book lover.
I am good at math.
I am outgoing.
I am cheerful.
I am a good friend.
I am fighting for justice.
I am strong.
I am wise.
I am not fake.
I am not bad-tempered.
I am not wrong.
I am willing to do anything.
So please love me.
~ Yoan Mimi Fransiska
“YOUR ABUSIVE PARTNER DOESN’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH HIS ANGER; HE HAS A PROBLEM WITH YOUR ANGER.
One of the basic human rights he takes away from you is the right to be angry with him. No matter how badly he treats you, he believes that your voice shouldn’t rise and your blood shouldn’t boil. The privilege of rage is reserved for him alone. When your anger does jump out of you—as will happen to any abused woman from time to time—he is likely to try to jam it back down your throat as quickly as he can. Then he uses your anger against you to prove what an irrational person you are. Abuse can make you feel straitjacketed. You may develop physical or emotional reactions to swallowing your anger, such as depression, nightmares, emotional numbing, or eating and sleeping problems, which your partner may use as an excuse to belittle you further or make you feel crazy.”
― Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
This quote reminds me of my ex-husband who doesn’t only believe and did everything that has been said above he also thinks that being his wife means I have no right at all. He is the exact opposite of the saying what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. He alone has the right to say and does everything his heart’s desire.
He spent a lot of times on the front of the computer tracking women, chatting them, meeting them and went on vacation with them but I was not allowed even to touch the computer. He changed its password every other day and forbidden my children to even breath a single letter of that bloody password to me. How’s that for unfair?
He disappeared for days not telling where he was and if I dare to ask him he will tell me it wasn’t my business. He drinks as if there is no tomorrow, violent beyond belief, rude, distant and utterly, utterly abusive not only physically but mentally as well. And the way he demanded sex from me was out of this world. As if I was created solely for that purpose. As a result, I cultivated an abnormal aversion to it and avoided being intimate with him at all cost and believe me it cost a lot.
Yet for him, I was the bad one. He often accused me of not behaving like a wife and not doing my duty. That I’m good for nothing and has nothing to offer to a man that I’m lucky he keeps me because no man will ever want a short fat and ugly someone like me. I will not survive out there he said. Without him, I will not make it.
It took me thirteen years to learn to give him a taste of his own medicine and to find out that eat your heart out is a wonderful motivation to survive. And another seven years to actually find the courage to walk out and leave him for good.
That was fifteen years ago.
Still, the nightmares continue. The damage that he caused I (and my children) will carry for the rest of our lives. The consequences of his cruel and senseless thoughtless actions will resonate through the years and will affect generations to come. The pattern is set.
“It can be difficult to leave a long-term relationship, even when our inner-wisdom tells us it’s time to let go. At this point, we can choose let go and endure the intense pain of leaving behind the familiar to make way for a new chapter in our life. Or we can stay and suffer a low-grade pain that slowly eats away at our heart and soul, like emotional cancer. Until we wake up, one day and realize, we are buried so deep in the dysfunction of the relationship that we scarcely remember who we were and what we wanted and needed to be.”
― Jaeda DeWalt
“He wasn’t the type for displays of affection, either verbal or not. He was disgusted by couples that made out in the hallways between classes and got annoyed at even the slightest sappy moments in movies. But I knew he cared about me: he just conveyed it more subtly, as concise with expressing this emotion as he was with everything else. It was in the way he’d put his hand on the small of my back, for instance, or how he’d smile at me when I said something that surprised him. Once I might have wanted more, but I’d come around to his way of thinking in the time we’d been together. And we were together, all the time. So he didn’t have to prove how he felt about me. Like so much else, I should just know.”
― Sarah Dessen,
“There’s a phrase, “the elephant in the living room”, which purports to describe what it’s like to live with a drug addict, an alcoholic, an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, “How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn’t you see the elephant in the living room?” And it’s so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth; “I’m sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn’t know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.” There comes an aha-moment for some folks – the lucky ones – when they suddenly recognize the difference.”
― Stephen King
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