To Breath again (Part One)
My first love was a relationship that lasted nearly five years. It finally ended when I realised the man I had waited for in those wasted years was never coming back to me. The one I'd fallen in love with, those eight months before we became engaged, would not return for he’d never really existed. When that realisation finally came, so did the end of the relationship. This happened simultaneously. Considering how volatile our relationship had become I was surprised how our engagement was to end with a whimper and not a bang.
My emotions were overwhelming me, my mental state taking over. “I must be strong. There's still time”, dramatic thoughts repeating in my mind. Twas the night before sending our wedding invitations. He was relaxing on the couch, engrossed by the television. The mood was tranquil, a rare mood of late. As I looked at him my thoughts asked, “do I love you?” The awful dawning started like a slow-moving wrecking ball. I reached for that emotion inside me, the love I once had for him. The love one should be feeling for a husband to be. “Do I love you?”, I asked myself again. Can I love someone I don't like?
As I look at his profile, him continuing to watch the screen, oblivious, it suddenly hits me how much I do dislike him. That didn't mean I didn't love him, per se. Like and love didn't have to go together, did they? That wrecking ball hits. My thoughts explode and the revelation occurs. I see him now for all he really is and stumble at the realisation of who he always was. Suddenly, transparent to me my dislike turned to hate.
As I asked myself, “how did it come to this?”, I instinctively knew the answer. The one who this could never happen to, the one who couldn't understand how anyone would ever put up with an abuser. I was now living this reality and understood. Understanding which came at a price.
Abuse comes in many forms. Mental and emotional abuse are devoid of the typical physical evidence associated with abuse. Mental and emotional abuse leaves victims feeling isolated, and consequently, they further isolate themselves. For these reasons, I wish he had hit me.
I was smart and strong but very naïve when I met him. He was my first serious relationship and I was still a virgin when we met. I wasn't prepared for the reality and the onslaught of the repercussions of his childhood abuse. His childhood was horrendous as he had suffered so much abuse. I was too young and incompetent to realise he was too broken to fix. Those who claimed to have loved him hurt him. Those that should have loved him, hurt him. All he knew was to hurt the ones you love, and he did that well. My hatred for him continued to intensify with my realisation that he had evolved into his abusers and that he was proud of what he'd become. The madness of planning my wedding during the day while I cried myself to sleep at night now made sense to me.
I had to get off this emotional roller coaster. I had to jump. I needed to escape now before the rage and fear I felt swirling inside became the self-doubt I knew well in his presence. Knowing him now for who he truly was I knew he would not let me go willingly. “Think, girl, think”. Eventually, I blurted out that I was in desperate need of a six-week break. He turned towards me from the couch confused and said, “but we are getting married in two months”.
“I know”, I reply, “but I'm getting stressed about the wedding arrangements. It's making me sicker. I really need this break from you, from us”. My Crohn’s had been flaring up for months.
He'd seen for himself how stress didn't help, and as my energy levels depleted I'd end up in pain, exhausted, and not able to function. He was no comfort to me in those times, though that was the same of him when I was well. He totally ignored me when I was ill except for, on a few occasions, commenting how did he know I wasn't faking my illness for attention? What would have been the point of relaying to him any update on my ailing health?
“If you're uncomfortable with my illness just shut up and go away”, I'd tell him. “There's your problem solved”.
He knew if I couldn't function I mightn't be well enough for the big white wedding. With my health deteriorating he'd tried to be more accommodating, although he didn't want any responsibilities in arranging our upcoming nuptials planning only to get drunk on the day, and he was a mean drunk to boot. Yippee. What a day to look forward to.
I used the break as an excuse for a means to escape. He followed me, trying to reason with me why I shouldn't go. I was no longer listening. My thoughts raced as I collected my necessities. I remember thinking “I'm not coming back, take what's important”. Therefore, I couldn't take too much as I didn't want him to become suspicious. His favourite endearment by then was “what would you do without me, baby?”
“Breathe”, would often pop into my head.
I was still surprised when that thought was to come true. As I took off in my car toward my parent's place I felt a rush of relief. My lungs swelling, my breath rushing out. Back in and out. Big beautiful breaths. It was like I'd been holding my breath for years and was finally able to let go.