Take a moment.
Just a minute to think about the past and who you were in it. Have you always been the you that you are now? Well, no. We are little more than amazing bags of blood in a fragile shell running around a simulation of our own making and using prejudice and anxiety as an operating system.
The reason I say this is because I want you to understand that I was a different person then, in my past. I’m not just being whimsical or vague but I’m actually thinking of a particular time and place, and person.
It has taken years and much reflection, some of it in therapy, to see what happened for what it was. My trauma.
Back around the turn of the millennium I was living with someone, my friends will know her, who I thought was amazing. She was the first woman to actually pursue me. Actually be interested in me, or so I thought, and to want to be with me.
Not long after first dating we moved into a house in Garden Lane and everything seemed fine. Well, that’s what i thought.
“This is exactly how relationships are supposed to be.” I would tell myself when things went wrong. Like the frog that doesn’t realise it is being boiled alive, i would sit happily in my gaslit pan and think of how lucky i was that everything was so toasty.
This someone had their own trauma, hadn’t dealt with it, had it compounded by her parents, and then was left to simmer in it. By the time she was honest about it I had already become blind to my own trauma, the trauma she was causing.
You can be the toughest, the most clever, and the social person in the world, the most impervious but when someone you love starts blowing poison in to your ear you are the last to notice.
I was lazy. I was unlikeable and unloveable and she preferred girls anyway, and I was being too demanding of intimacy i mean sex, i wasnt man enough, how i drove her to drink, how i forced her into the arms of other men, how she had to lie about me to my friends and she was only protecting me. As she once said she “never loved me, [she] only gave in because she was bored. Women don’t want men, they just let them sleep with us to get what they want.”
She emotionally tortured me but it was “all my fault” and how I was obviously mad, imagining it, and over-reacting.
Was I perfect? Hell no.
But by the end of it, when i was all used up, she moved out and i was destroyed.
In retrospect, her leaving was the best thing that could’ve happened. She was my abuser, I know that now. She was my alcoholic, insecure, angry, vicious, torturer. I’m sure some of my friends think she was nice. Those kind of people are always good at portraying a victim.
So now, I’m terrified of a partner withholding affection. Of coming home drunk. Of apologising for having sex with someone else. Of saying “we need to talk” just to gain power. Of being threatened with having gossip spread about me. Of being threatened with the lies told to my friends and the police.
I’m left with fractures. Emotional fractures made from her spite, glee, and her own inadequacies.
I now know this. I am better than I was which is a victory in itself.
I don’t miss her one bit. I don’t have to watch her roll over after sex and when I say “What about me” hear her reply “What about you?”. I don’t have the local shopkeepers son call her the wine lady. Or watch her sit on a guys lap and watch her ask him to hit me. Wait up all night only to have her roll in two days later when she needed clothes for work and to say sorry for sleeping with someone I knew. Or how I would encourage swinging just to have some intimacy with her. How worthless I felt I was because I couldn’t be with her on my own.
I’m only sorry I still bear the scars and brought some of those wounds and traits to the door of the good women I dated after.
Therapy has been good. While logically I know I’m not worthless, or lazy, or evil, or perverted, or pathetic, or unloveable and unlikeable… emotionally I think I will always be there. She took my insecurities and wielded them like a mallet.
Real villains don’t fight you with their weapons. They fight you with yours.