It’s hard to understand a domestic abusive relationship until you’re in one. Until then, you might hear about them and wonder, “Why doesn’t he/she leave that relationship? Why would he/she continue to put up with mental or physical abuse?” With pain being insufferable and the constant negativity always bringing down your self-confidence or self-esteem, someone may think it would be easy to just throw everything down and leave. I can tell you for a fact that it is not. I’ve had many people throughout my life tell me to just move away from the violence and never look back, to call the cops and escape, or to be brave and fight fear. But I can’t.
The reason I’m writing this story is to give myself some sort of relief, and hopefully help others that may not even realize that they’re in an abusive relationship. If you know me, you know me to be a generally happy person and you could never guess what is going on behind the mask, behind the scenes. I made this anonymous because I don’t want that to change, and because I enjoy going to school and pretending that what goes on at home doesn’t actually happen. But when I’m not surrounded by people who don’t know what’s going on, my anxiety and depression begin to eat me alive. I feel completely and totally worthless, and I take the weight of the world upon my shoulders. I feel like I’m the only person in the world, and I can’t turn to anyone at all because I feel like no one could possibly understand the pain I experience. The shadows in my mind put there by someone else come out at night, there to destroy the little self-esteem and/or self-confidence I’ve built that day. I lie awake at night remembering every single one of my mistakes and wondering how I let myself get to this point. My weight, my looks, my intelligence; all of it goes under the knife as those shadows eat me alive until sleep finally takes me.
And the cycle repeats.
There are a lot of reasons people don’t leave their relationships. Fear. Money. Family. Shame. But, for me? It was love.
I didn’t know my relationship wasn't a normal one until I reached public middle school. There, I learned that my classmates had parents that loved them unconditionally and didn’t sacrifice fun, memories, and their very childhood for academics and perfection. I used to pray to God when I was little that I would wake up one day and everything would be different. The bruises would be gone, there wouldn’t be dried tears on my face, and the screaming would finally stop. But it never happened, so the prayers eventually ceased. I noticed my own physique and personality begin to change. I stopped talking as much and I withdrew into a hard shell that I hoped would protect me. I cried easily and I got angry often, but it always took a while for me to remember how to laugh when I was meant to. The dark and terrible emotions I had pushed away into that little chest in the corner of my mind for a decade would sometimes come out when I least expected them, amplifying the current emotion I would be experiencing a hundred times.
I kept rationalizing every hit, every slap, every punch, every word.
“She didn’t mean it, she’s just angry. It’s my fault. It’s my fault. It’s my fault. I shouldn't have have made her angry. I shouldn’t have made that mistake.”
I would cry my heart out and then I would feed the memory to the shadows so I didn’t have to deal with it anymore. The next day, she would feel guilty and buy me something to try and make up for the pain she inflicted. Most of what I own are items bought on a guilty trip to the store to try and soothe the aches. Against my will, I would forgive her and everything would go back to normal.
It’s complex and difficult when someone you love is hurting you, especially someone who is meant to be your protector, someone who is meant to love you forever, no matter what. It’s human nature to bond with them, even if they mistreat you in any way, because you’ve associated good memories and feelings with them. Hope became my drug. I hoped she would stop one day. I hoped she would alter her behavior when she saw how well I was doing in school. I hoped she would be happy with me and she would finally see that what she was doing was wrong. But it never stopped and I never won.
The abuse wasn’t constant, nor was it consistent. I would never see it coming, even if I had put up with it for my entire life. We were a normal family in public, laughing, holding hands, being happy. When there’s a break in the violence, physical or mental, you are tricked into relief and complacency. When times are good, you feel so relieved that you’re almost… grateful. But, behind shut doors, blood ran cold and blood ran red. There were three different points in which I couldn’t handle it anymore. I tried to actually end it all, but all three were somehow botched, so I stopped. It clearly wouldn’t work. But when I still couldn’t stop the mental pain, I turned to own physical self-harm. It was the only way I could figure out how to stop the shadows in my head acting like my own personal Dementors, sucking away at every piece of my happiness they could find. I could cover my arms and my body, so I went away at it. In it, I could breathe. I could control the pain, so I felt like a curtain was opened and light could pour in. When the light came in, I realized what I was doing. I immediately stopped and turned instead to fixing myself. I did everything I could to ignore the abuse, and I threw myself into work and school. I sold what was left of me to the devil to try and succeed in every way possible. Distractions were key. Still, it was never enough. I could achieve the top distinction but there would be still something wrong with it — with me. At my weakest moments, I would pick up the sharpest tool I had on hand and find my strength again.
In present day, I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I can stand up for myself. I no longer look in the mirror and cringe. I fall asleep without the tendrils of the shadows taking the pieces of my soul I might’ve gained back that day. I may never be enough for those around me, but I am enough for myself and that’s all that matters. In no way am I whole, but I’m coming back, and I’m coming back stronger than ever. The happiness is true and the smiles are often and real. I leave for college in five months, and then I get to start over, and that is what keeps me grounded and alive. There are some key facts I’ve learned from my own personal life.
This blog is not meant to be a cry for help, but just something that I want to share with the world to show them that none of you are alone, and it’s okay to hurt. I was lucky enough to have wonderful people in my life to hold me up when I just couldn’t swim anymore, and I was lucky enough to find my own strength before it was too late. I will never let go of the relationship I have with my parents because despite everything, they are still my family, my blood. But I refuse to let myself be treated like something I’m not. I wasn’t alone, and I never was. Neither are you. You can break free, you just have to trust yourself.