Trigger warning: This post is about a past violent relationship.
I wrote the following words on Sunday, January 29, 2017, when I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep.
For a few weeks, I was waking up every night right around 3am. That’s what happened to me the night of January 29. The next day, when I mentioned to a friend how I’d woken up at 3am and how waking at that time kept happening, she told me I should pay attention to what I was thinking about when I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, maybe write it all down. I told her that’s just what I’d done.
My friend said (and the Power of Positivity website confirmed),
If the time that you awaken is between 3:00 am and 5:00am, it could also be a sign of your Higher Power alerting you to pay attention to messages that are being sent to align you with your higher purpose.
In any case, the following words are what I wrote that night:
The fear is not just that he would hurt me, but that I would go back. I’m scared I’d set eye on him and feel his power over me again, succumb to it, run into the sickness with open arms.
It hurts to say I participated in my own abuse. We’re not supposed to talk about this aspect of the violence, but the truth of the matter is, I stayed. Sure, he threatened to kill me, my family, the dog, my friends, everyone I ever loved, if I left. Sure, he said it would be my fault if he ever ended up back in prison, the thing he feared most. He said I’d pay if he was ever put back in a cell, that he knew people and had connections and could have me killed. But I could have left, walked away and never gone back, as I finally did. What took me so long? And after the first three times I left in grand and bold ways, why did I go back?
I had hope, I suppose–hope that this time could be different, hope that this time I could be different, hope that this time I could be the person he wanted me to be, hope that maybe this time his anger would dissolve.
No one ever told me hope can sometimes hurt. No one ever told me hope should sometimes be released. No one ever told me that sometimes a situation really is hopeless.
I gave up on him changing early on. He was a pillar. He was steadfast. His anger was not going anywhere.
How can I bring out the worst in a person I love so much? I often wondered.
Now I understand I wasn’t a catalyst for the worst, but an excuse.
Why didn’t I leave?
I thought we were cosmically linked. I thought our stories were meant to be intertwined forever. I believed it was us against the world.
I believed his lies. I believed the lies I told myself.
I thought maybe I was so flawed, that this was the best I could ever do.
I hoped under all the bullshit, he really did love me.
I thought maybe he was capable of hunting me down and hunting down my family and hunting down my friends and killing us all. I thought I was responsible for protecting all the people I’d ever loved. I thought I was responsible for protecting him. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that I was responsible for protecting myself.
I’ve forgiven him, for the most part, to the extent forgiveness can extend to someone I still fear.
You don’t have to hate him on my behalf, I told a friend once. I’ve let go of any hate I felt for him. I feel great compassion for him, he who’s been locked in cages since he was 12. I wish him peace. I wish him love. I wish him to stay as far away from me as possible.
I’ve mostly forgiven him, but it’s just occurred to me that I need to forgive myself. I am my own most precious gift, and I squandered my own safety and value and self-worth to appease a bully, The hardest thing to know is that I sacrificed myself all for nothing; I gave up myself and it wasn’t enough for him. I could never give up enough of myself to satisfy him.
So now I’m working on forgiving myself for staying, for loving him and protecting him more than I was willing to love and protect myself.
My new mantra is I am a good person.
I say it to myself before I go to sleep at night. I am a good person. I say it to myself when negative self-talk creeps into my head. I am a good person.
I say it to myself when I want to say You really fucked that up or No one’s ever going to love you because you’re so fucked up or You’re going to die alone and no one will even remember you. Instead, I say, I am a good person.
Currently, I chant it frantically. I am a good person. I am a good person. IamagoodpersonIamagoodpersonI amagoodpersonIamagoodperson.
I’m hoping if I say it enough, I will come to believe it; the thought will become automatic; it will be true. I am a good person.
I’m hoping eventually I will be able to say it calmly, slowly, from a place deep within me. I. Am. A. Good. Person.
Because I know I can only let go of the fear of drifting back to him by loving myself enough to truly believe I deserve better than his bully bullshit.
If you are suffering from domestic violence (or wonder if what you are suffering is domestic violence), you can visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website or call the hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
For more information about getting back on your feet after financial abuse, read the article, “Starting Over: How to Rebuild Your Finances after Escaping a Financially Abusive Relationship,” by .