She told the world, not only could they not have better, they would also be the agent of their own demise – and that this, this was inevitable.

I just had to write a blog about this.

I have recently been binging the old and world-loved series, Sex and the City. Currently on season 3, episode 9 – and, yes, I have got here in just under four days.

But, having been completely outraged by season 3, episode 9, I had to channel my emotions somewhere.

Carrie Bradshaw slept with Big. Carrie Bradshaw slept with Big after finding the perfect boyfriend, who treated her better than Big ever could. Carrie Bradshaw crumbled after Big said he was leaving his wife for her, whilst drunk, and then told, whilst Big was sober, he wasn’t leaving her because the divorce would be too expensive. Carrie Bradshaw gave up a year of healing from a man who would not marry her, who then married another woman in less than three months. Carrie Bradshaw sabotaged her own future by sleeping with Big after telling her he ‘didn’t know’, but that he missed her, that he loved her, after he forced himself upon her and followed her whilst she was running away – evilly knowing she would crumble.

We all sat there, me, my mum, my sister, shouting at the computer screen as if Carrie could hear us. My sister refused to watch the show again and claimed Carrie was the most disgusting character she knew. My mum, even though she watched the show years ago, when I was just a toddler, ran out of the room in despair. And I, sat there, motionless, almost a little heartbroken myself. But, why? Why did this affect every single woman in my household?

Because all of us were Carrie.

My mum was a manifested version of Carrie’s ultimate downfall; me and my sister the product of that. And, as if it was in our DNA, I, myself, had chased after my heart in someone else’s hands – to the detriment of my own well-being, far past heartbreak. My sister had watched, growing up, the women around her fail, fail because of men – beyond immediate family.

So, were we angry at Carrie because we were angry at ourselves? Were we angry at Carrie, because we were scared of our own innate potential to be like her? Was it a way of distancing ourselves from our own hubris in flesh?

I wondered: I have always struggled with where the line is where it comes to tolerance in relationship. Me? I’ve always had a high one: I was the caretaker in my family. And I’ve been brought up to always try to understand why people do what they do. He couldn’t commit because someone broke his heart, he couldn’t do this because of x and y and z. And so on. But, truthfully? All it has EVER done is cause pain, deep pain – and allowed me to be taken advantage of. Granted, yes, I may have been understanding the wrong people, projecting some sort of humane explanation onto them – where humanity is lacked. And truthfully, I do it because I know I would always want to be understood.

I saw this in Carrie too.

But understanding is difference from tolerance, isn’t it? And empathy is difference from pity, isn’t it?

And, is there not two people in every situation? What about me? Why do we both forget about me?

What I did not have to wonder about, however, is the fact that Sex and The City failed all women. The lot of us. And instead, championed every single man that, my sworn arch enemy, Big represents.

Carrie marries Big.

What is worse, is that Big calls off the wedding by abandoning Carrie at the Church. And, again, after a whole year of immense pain and depression, Carrie marries Big.

And they live happily, ever, after.

I could not help but think the whole series, and sequential films, endorsed this damaging, backward fantasy that women must earn the love of a man, through self-sacrifice that could very realistically push anyone off the side of a cliff. This absurd fantasy that a man will eventually change for the woman that he loves. The bitter belief that having a wholesome, available and fully-ticked checkbox man, like Aidan – who Carrie cheated on for cheating, unavailable and abusive Big -, would never be fulfilling for any woman. And merely because they do not give us the ‘same butterflies’.

I was insulted. Almost violated.

The realisation that women are expected to transform a failure of a human being into a husband, was beyond me. It disgusted me. And, truthfully, I was angry at their mothers, their fathers. Their nature.

Now, this is not a spiteful, hateful speech aimed at the male species. It is also aimed at women like Carrie, women like me – and the damage they do to men like Aidan, who never even deserve it. But, that’s life isn’t it? The people who are damaged by others, in later-life, never do deserve it – they are simply damaged because they are good. Because they can be. Because they’re not far removed and deluded enough to be God- like, like Big. They are real, and here. Right in front of us. But they force us, women like Carrie, women like me, women like my Mum, to confront a very painful wound: Carrie could not bear the insanity of tranquillity, the peacefulness, the healthiness that was in her relationship with Aidan. The truth is, we are scared of being really and truly loved by a person who, if they did ever leave, would render a heartbreak that would take something away from our own soul. Ironically, we are safe with men like Big. We are safe with the predictability of their unpredictability. We are safe with the distance that pining for an acceptance, a validation, that will never be authentically given: we change with men like Big. And so, so are our truest selves.

So, I realised that self-love is not safe at all. I realised that love is, and always will be completely logical (to the opposite of Carrie’s beliefs) – but that a sexual connection will never be, a ‘love’ that disempowers you, and brings you to your knees, will never be either. How could it be, when the only logical thing, is to love ourselves? I’m talking about the self-love that brings the light to all of our darkest demons, our deepest hurts and outcasts them – so that humanity can thrive too. Profoundly, perhaps, we are programmed to self-destruct, despite all these survival instincts. Perhaps we are the masters of our downfalls, and some of us, like Carrie, do indeed fall.

Candance Bushnell, despite her genius legacy, failed all women, who are represented by Carrie. She told the world, not only could they not have better, she told the world they would also be the agent of their own demise – and that this, this was inevitable, inescapable.

‘Sex and The City’

For S, always.

I just came back from my third therapy session. And I am buzzing, as usual. I know it will follow with a hard thud, a great deal of tiredness and some heavy shit to deal with for the next 7 days – but, as always, I am a step further from hell and his grip.

I decided to write about it. I think I am going to write about it, or, at least try, every time I have finished another therapy session.

One of the first things my therapist noticed was the fact that I dissociate when talking about my experience; I talk about it as if it didn’t happen to me, because those feelings are still too painful, too traumatic for my conscious mind to process. And I have tried so many times to write about my experience in just one blog – but it never quite happens: it is too stressful; it is too much. I still have not processed my experience; it can take years. But that does not mean you cannot live a happy, fulfilled life, during that time. Everyone, I mean everyone, has something to live with – it is the price we pay for life. Healing never ends.

I mean, I guess when they say ‘time is a healer’ it may just mean time is the thing that allows us to heal. Without time, we would have no space to grow into, we wouldn’t have a distance from the thing that broke our minds, our hearts – whatever it is that is hurting you – and so, we wouldn’t be healing.

It is only that, after 20 weeks and 3 days, I have truly begun to feel the pain, the humiliation, the degradation, the fear, every single emotion, and scar of his actions.

Space and distance create safety – so your subconscious comes out of survival mode, it begins to process because it does not have to worry about what he/she is going to do next.

And in realising this, I forgave myself for withdrawing from a lot of things, for changing and leaving things behind. I realised anyone who thought differently either didn’t understand what it means to just outright survive, or, would rather me be that crushed, broken ‘person’ than lose me – and I am betting you already know what I think about that.

Change is natural. Change, ironically, is the only constant thing, I think. And you know, for a long time, I had so much faith in my abuser, in our future – because of change. But, in writing that, it was not change that was giving me faith; and rightly so if it had been. It was hope. It was the hope that he would change. I understand now, it was a coping mechanism, a reaction to everything I was going through – not a natural or fundamental belief to me. It was not that I actually believed he could change, it was just how I coped with the brutal, devastating reality of us. You do not need the person who is meant for you, to change. And you do not need to change, either.

I changed so much because of him. I almost became exactly what he wanted his victim to be: the girl who stayed at home, who hung off every single words of his, who was already a little in love with him – who would devote her whole life to him, and forget about hers. Why did I want to be with a person who would allow that? Who would reward me for giving up my own life? And it breaks my heart, because I know I am never going to get the girl back and who she was before him. You would not even believe it was me. Strong-willed, opinionated, challenging. Everything he hated – if only I did not have the wound he knew how to exploit.

Believing in change was how I coped with the fact that I could not leave. Or, the fact that, every time I tried, with every fibre of my being, every bit of strength I had, it failed. Hope is what keeps things alive, and hope is, essentially, what kept me alive in a place where everything was dead or rotting. So, I think my point is, is that we are never staying with abusers because they are changing, it is because we hope, for completely illogical and unrealistic reasons, that they will change. He gave me no reason to think he would change. But, again, you are completely conditioned to be illogical and unrealistic, how else could they do what they do to you? Because what if they do eventually give you a reason to think they would change, right? Is that not just an alert that it is time to leave? Hoping for something to happen?

I kept thinking that one day he would wake up and realise. And truthfully, a lot of the time, as I contemporaneously understood from the knowledge I had, I was scared to move on in fear he would one day come back with my hope in his hands. How that guilt, that shame, would haunt me, which breaks my heart now. It breaks my heart I ever thought that walking away from a person who was driving me to suicide, would eventually be the worst decision of my life. It breaks my heart, it angers me, that I was made to feel as if I was pushing myself to suicide. That is what I will never get over, you know. I will never get over how deluded I was made to feel. Never. And in some weird way, that will keep me safe.

And, hilariously, really, from what I am educated about now – and you must educate yourself about domestic violence, narc abuse – in order for anyone to change, they must have a ‘self’. And boy, there was nothing behind his eyes, and I never forget how scared that made me feel. How I felt like I needed to run. But that I was in quicksand. It is called the psychopathic stare.

Why does no one tell us about people like this? I did not even know about Claire’s and Sarah’s law until I met my therapist, shout out to Camilla by the way.

And, besides, a person with a personality disorder, does not change. They merely manage their ‘symptoms’ as such – yes, there are cases where people can be better, lead better lives. But they will never, ever be what you fell in love with. What you spent those months searching for, to take the two of you back to the person you met the first time: he groomed me with his persona, mirrored everything he knew I wanted in a person: protection, safety, support, closeness, quality time, feeling comfortable around one another. ‘He’ never existed. Only my projection, and his acting skills.

He/she will never be what we find in healthy, balanced relationships. We will always be narcissistic supply to them, even if they can manage their ‘symptoms’. And why would you want that anyway?

I see it this way. If you have a mental illness, you have trouble processing your true self. A personality disorder? Like narcissism? Your personality is the problem. And, each case is individual, true to its own context – and in mine? Hate was the only thing that ‘boy’ had.

At first, I felt bad for writing off someone’s entire existence. I could not bear the thought of causing someone the pain of having their reality ripped from them, no matter how deluded. Having their world shattered by someone else. After all, what else could this boy be but what he was? How could I blame him for what he truly was? I constantly battled between feeling sorry for him, and how that would completely invalidate my experience, and hating the person who had even brought him into this world, allowing me to feel what I needed to feel to heal. Then, I just felt differently about it. I never needed to say anything to him, to live my truth. I did not need to be like him, in order to be me: I do not need to destroy someone else’s ‘truth’ to sustain my own. I did not care if it was right or wrong. I just knew I did not want this anymore. And that? That is the ultimate goal: indifference.

They are on their ‘journey’, and you are on yours. And that, that is enough.

Side note, but, is change even what we think it is? Is it not just discovering or learning more about ourselves, and making the adjustments to our life according to that?

I also genuinely believe it is very, very wrong for a person to ever feel obliged to let back the one that broke them into their lives again. It does not matter if they have changed. I am sure it is because we watch films like Sex and The City, where Carrie, after a whole year of grieving, decides to marry Big. I am sure it is because we see couples, in TV shows, like Atypical, repair their marriage after a cheating episode. But I am here to remind you that your relationship was not built on love. It was built on pain and the destruction of your true self. I am here to remind you that, you do not ever need to feel the need to allow someone back into your life. That for them to expect you to do so, would be a sign they have not changed – because they are sabotaging your healing, and thinking about themselves again.

I had my first love when I was 14, he cheated on me – hung up on me mid-phone call and never spoke to me again. I spent months rationalising and deciding why he did it, either to save what little self-worth I had left, or because I could not fathom how someone could do that to someone, for him to walk back into my life three years later, saying he had ‘learned’, ‘changed’. It gave purpose to my pain, you know? And what did he do, again? Cheated on his girlfriend for me, told me he did not ‘have control of the situation’, and abandoned me all over again. But, it was the second part of his lesson to me. The part where I realised that, no matter why he did it, he did not love me enough to not do it. The part where I realised that you can forgive someone, accept the ‘change’ in them, and still say no. I am his lesson, if he ever chooses to learn it, as much as he is mine. I decided he would need something in his life that he could never fix, to never hurt the woman that was really meant for him (if he deserves any woman, presently). A reminder of why he needed to change, to grow, to heal whatever hurt he projected onto me. And I was okay with it because the first part of his lesson had already taught me that no one else’s decisions define your worth, and although I still haven’t quite worked out what actually does, I do know anyone who violates another individual’s existence – does not understand the innate worth of anyone, but their own. I was okay with it because him not loving me did not bother me – because (if he can even love, I have no idea) whoever he loved, suffered. I saw that in his girlfriend of three years, who is still his girlfriend by the way. I realised that, whatever the morality of it, I had a personal choice to make. That I am in control of my life, and the consequences that come with it. This was MY life. No one else’s – and definitely not his: he threw it away the first chance he got. I could build a relationship on a foundation of friendship, healing and genuine connection – so that, when the bad days come, and we had no other choice but to start from the beginning, go back to basics, we always had a reminder of why it was worth trying.  Future hurts with that ex would just put salt in old wounds.

I had the choice to be loved, truly, and that, that became a simple choice for me. And true love, for me? It is simply enrichening, bettering who you already are, it solves more problems than it creates and genuinely makes living in this world a better place. When that was on offer, as a current special person in my life can attest to, why choose feeling crazy, insecure, which feeds all your own demons, unstable and alone, over that? It either comes from a place of self-hate, or, from a numbness, a tolerance or ‘used to, I know no better’ attitude towards these ‘men’.

I always battled (battle, too) with my head about these choices. I had been so brainwashed, my confidence so wrecked and so torn up by living with someone else’s sin (which maybe I will talk about in another blog) that I wondered if it was morally right to hate yourself. Weird, right? I was so worried I was living my life in the wrong way – which, you have to remember is just a product of what you have been through, and, why would you question your previous moral beliefs because of a compulsively lying, manipulative ‘person’ who had an ever-changing ‘moral-stance’ that would simply acquire him whatever he wanted – I almost stopped having opinions, separate thoughts because I was so worried that someone else might completely sabotage them, like my narcistic ex did. And then I realised, which was exceedingly difficult at first, that, actually, you cannot prove what is right or wrong. That whatever I instinctively feel, still has its own biases. So, all I actually have, is my choices. The fact that I have empathy, a natural understanding of what it means to be human. And that all I can ever do, throughout my life, is hope that I am doing my best, that I heal more than I hurt, or preserve more than I break. That I succeed at being human. That I learn where I fail or learn what I did not know. There is not much comfort in that, and somehow, I am going to have to find belief in myself again and what I think is right – independent and far from fear.

I have to let go of my need for control, when all I want to do is control, construct impenetrable moral stances, because of fear. Fear for him.

Fear-based thinking is a real problem for me right now, it hinders my ability to be me. And I guess that is why I distance myself from as much overt decision making as I can. I guess it was because I was so scared of being everything he made me feel like (he compared me to a murderer at the end of our relationship), or that, worse, I was just like him. I have not quite worked this out yet, and I certainly do not have enough confidence to feel justified or outrageously ‘right’ in my choices because that was robbed from me, I struggle to believe in myself. I am just going to have to find out who I am again, underneath all the shit he left me with. And find self-trust again. With the help of therapy.  

That is what that is all about, really. Re-building my self-belief. It is funny how one thing can manifest in so many different ways.

We spoke about him today; it is becoming easier to talk about what happened to me. I think one of the major reasons as to why I struggle to talk about it is because how other people might invalidate me – as he did. I am scared if they do not understand, it might indeed confirm I am crazy. But, you know, to feel insane – does indeed suggest sanity: just as we know what happiness is because we have felt sadness, too. It is also because this is exactly how he programmed me to feel.

I am going to try and reiterate what we talked about. Both for myself and you.

I know I will not be absolutely free until talking about it does not even bother me anymore.

We talked about how sex was all the relationship was. Literally, all we did was f*ck. It is the only time I ever felt truly close to him, connected to him. And it was mind-blowing, like literally. Because, in reality, it was not pleasurable. I think I faked it every time? It was just another form of trauma bonding: the sex itself was never that pleasurable, it was just what my mind was telling me, to cope.

The ‘connection’ is all that kept me connected.

Please know, too, coping is not love.

I told her about this time where we the sex was so intense, so overwhelming, I felt like crying. He could tell it had affected me – he asked me why I ‘always have to be a bitch?’. At the time, I felt it was because he was just as overwhelmed too. Then, I realised, it was because, by showing my own emotion, I had made something about me for just the slightest second – and taken it away from him. He honestly thought I was a ‘bitch’ for that. It’s funny, I always remember him saying to me ‘Remember when you used to be nice?’ – code for, ‘remember when you used to let me walk all over you and I took advantage of all your niceness and didn’t have to be more careful?’. Boundaries, they hate them – just like a robber hates a house alarm. Keep your alarms on, ladies and gents: the right person does not have to disable the whole system to just get in.

We spoke about how, when I left him, he blackmailed the boy I was seeing, even after telling me he wished me all the best and all the luck. And how he did not expect the boy to tell me what he was saying. And because of that, when I confronted him about this, he gaslighted the f*ck out of me and made me feel as if the boy I was seeing had lied to me – bearing in mind this was his best mate since he was 12. Which, yes, maybe is another story, for another time. But it was actually my escape plan from my abuser – and a pretty clever one too. He could not stand the thought of me being happy. He could not stand the thought of me being over him. And hated me too much to even let me feel for a moment like I was worth fretting over. I was too worthless to even think he would react over me. His friend knew and had said ‘he’s a c*nt when it comes to girls,’ – but I never forget the shock in his face when he realised the ‘boy’ he had known for so many years, threw their whole friendship under the bus, to just hurt someone else. I realised then, my abuser cares about no one, respects no one. That, that is what separates him from your generic douchebag.

We talked about how he punched me when he had found out I had added his friend BACK on snapchat – and how this was just turning the attention from the fact he had lied to me about his friends knowing about me, to make me the problem yet again, to warn me of the consequence there might be next time.

I feel very anxious writing this.

We talked about how in the midst of the days he was telling me that he loved me – he was threatening his ex all over again, right just after telling her he had tried to send her a letter, that he was getting therapy (that was hilarious when I heard it). How this was liberating because even the good was a lie, an act of grooming to get me where he wanted. (Shoutout to his ex by the way – by far one of the best people I have EVER met).

I also told her how he had once sent me a set of therapy notes, how I felt as if this was him starting to open up about me (I always justified his behaviour by how he might have been hurt by others, encouraged by him and his pleas for pity – what I like to call a death trap, now – I find this hilarious thinking about it: imagine trying to justify destroying someone’s mental health repeatedly and intentionally by being hurt yourself). He is not hurt, he is just plain evil. And then, after 10 minutes of painful deliberation on trying to work out how to reply correctly, I finally went to my sister who looked at me as if her own heart had been broken, and told me it was from the GTA videogame. And that once I had told him I knew this, all he had to say was: ‘It took you ten minutes to work out this was from a video game?’. I dread to think how long he would have laughed at me before he finally, if ever, revealed they were not real notes. Proof that my empathy was always used against me: someone who wants you to feel sorry for them, just wants to enable their own behaviour.

We talked about how even on the first date, he was playing his sick, sadistic game: he had left me on my own for five minutes, with no warning. I felt so vulnerable and genuinely felt as if he had left me on my own, stood me up – for him to just return with two drinks. I remember the smugness on his face when I told him I thought he had stood me up. Who goes to get drinks without telling someone, without asking them what they want? And then enjoys the fact the person thought they had been stood up?

We talked about how when he was introducing me to his friends, I felt special and included, but, really, he was just laughing at me, in front of me, in that disguised way so only he knows a joke is being made, by showing his friends the next girl he was going to pull a number on, like some sick trophy – just like all the photo he keeps of the girls he dates.

I also mentioned how he had once said to me, after I had told him he ‘enjoyed manipulating people’, that: ‘I have to manipulate people.’ And realising that anything he actually thought, he would not tell me, because that would give me too much of a shot at freedom, he did not even think that – and the pain that caused me. Imagine saying something devastating to someone, and you do not even believe in it. I genuinely believed I had to be manipulated – and that is exactly what he wanted.

How he asked me if I would cheat on my husband for him? How he believed we would be doing this for the next 10 years; I remember telling my mum this same day his arrogance would be the downfall of him. How if ‘boys tell you to leave me, they just want to sleep with you.’ That if any boy is ‘nice to you, they just want to sleep with you.’ When, in reality, he was just talking about himself.

The time when he strangled me with my own bag in a night-club, after I walked away because he had told me that me ‘giving up my life’ for him was simply ‘just not what I wanted.’

How, when I stood up for myself and set boundaries and said this wasn’t going to happen anymore, he would bombard me with messages, and guilt trip me, call me ‘selfish’ and tell me he was ‘never going to see you again’. And that, the moment I showed the slightest emotion, explained why I was feeling the way I was, he was back to his controlled, unfeeling self – and me, left feeling like an out-of-control, failure. Back to spending days in bed and stuffing myself with greasy Chinese food nearly every night because I could not get rid of this pain, but I could not face it anymore.

How, now, I have to measure, every single day, my calories to try and lose, or maintain, my weight. How every single day it hurts to breathe, how I have not gone for one normal number two in six months – shit, maybe even longer (pun intended). How I have just hit out at my sister, because the pain of this is too much to just feel within. How I have stayed up till 2A.M trying to find out if I am the narcissist. The paranoia, the mistrust, the loneliness because no one has been through this that you know. Being triggered in your English lessons and appearing mentally unstable because everyone is talking about the abusive character as if they could be a good person, as if they should be celebrated for their cleverness. Being told, when you open up, for the first time, that I have to be aware of ‘his side of the story’. The nightmares that give me panic attacks before I go to sleep, the restlessness. The endless zoning out, the painful triggers and reminders – the slow and hideous process of trying to break trauma bonds. And everything else that comes with being SEVENTEEN.

Maybe this to you, sounds okay to go through. That is okay. That just means you have not been through what I went through first-hand. That maybe you are under his spell too: hey, even I thought it was not that bad.

But.

I cannot explain the pain to you of realising that every moment someone spent with you was to just humiliate, degrade and erode you. And then worse, destroy your reality, your true and right beliefs, with nothing but lies, not to run off and avoid the consequence, but so they can keep doing it. Keep coming to your bed, laughing at you in their head, getting off on the pain they cause you: you have no idea that you have a deranged stranger in your bed, and instead, see what was never there to begin with, staring back at you in your own reflection – too scared to be around the people you love, because you feel as if, if they knew what he saw in you, they wouldn’t love you either, and you know you would have to take your own life, because, what is life without being loved? Because, what do you do with yourself when someone has rewritten your whole past, every good intention you ever thought you had, every innocent mistake you ever made? I hope you know, from me, a person who has been through this too, and is starting to see the light, that to feel this way is to know you are human. To feel this way means you are none of these things. And real realisations, awakenings, do not come from a broken mind – which is what she/he has done. They are delusions, projections that have been dumped on you, because breaking a person is all they can do to bring someone close. Because you have life, and a good heart, even if you have messed up before. Guilt is the redemption of a misdirected man.

I think that is enough for today,

AJ.

Therapy Sessions