It’s normal to question what you do impulsively, but sometimes, I truly believe it is our bodies way of protecting us.

Therapy Session No.2

Yesterday, I had my fifth therapy session.

We caught up a little on what had happened since I had last saw her. We spoke about how my nex had tried to contact me through twitter, and the sort of spiral that sent me into. As well as some difficulties I was having with my new partner, who, for the time being, I have decided to stop seeing, because of some problematic behaviours that deeply affect me.

I cried, this time. It just came out of nowhere. There was no reason for it, I just started crying.

Now, I find it really difficult to connect with my emotions. I cannot just feel my emotions: they build up until I crack under the pressure of something, and then it’s bad.

A lot of the time I feel as if my head isn’t connected to what I’m feeling within (I usually locate my emotions in my chest/stomach area). My mind doesn’t really seem to process my emotions or base my decisions off them anymore, this can be good and bad. Bad because I end up pushing myself way too much and cause myself severe stress, which I then can’t feel and etc; a vicious cycle. Good because emotions can cloud your decision making: it always did with my nex because of how he manipulated those emotions and made me feel overwhelmingly guilty or selfish for leaving him. Which, is probably why I now don’t trust my emotions as much. And maybe even because I lived a whole year of my life in a deeply stressful state of turmoil – and then I became numb.

I guess you base your decisions off your emotions more than your logic, until the point all it does is bring pain. Or, at least that’s what I felt I could do before I met him.

I’m now very impatient with my pain. I can’t just sit with sadness. Ten minutes into feeling what I need to feel and I’m asking my sister when this is going to be over. Being in a constant state of depression and confusion really does build a strong adversity to pain.

I was never like that before: I could cry for days, without worrying about the fact I was crying for days, over a boy.

I guess I’m finding it hard to articulate. I don’t know, it’s just like I’m living in someone else’s head sometimes.

All I do know, is that there is a lot of pain. A lot. And unfortunately, as my half-smashed up kitchen with bent metal saucepans can attest to, it shows up as anger. You’re not vulnerable when you’re angry, you are when you are showing your pain. My nex savaged me when I was vulnerable, and, well, you could say it has had a lasting effect.

I also, again, opened up to her a little more about my relationship with my nex. I told her how he had told me if I was ever pregnant with his child, he would get someone to stab me in the stomach, or kick me, or worse, kill me. That I wouldn’t be able to escape this fate if I tried.

My therapist thinks that he is psychopathic. He is really, really dangerous.

I also told her how, right from the beginning, he made me question myself. As if this what was going on between us was just a process that my 16-year-old self had to learn. And that this is what a relationship with a 19-year-old meant.

“I know people who used to be in our position, and now they have a kid together,” he said after our first argument.

We spoke about this ‘first argument’.

I told her that he done something to make me feel suspicious. He had followed a girl on Instagram who, only 2-days prior, he had completely assasinated her whole character. I found it strange that, as he said, they had ‘made-up’ when he saw her out on the weekend. How can you hate someone that much and then be completely okay with them? But, really, this was just my way of bringing up another issue with him. I asked him how he ‘felt’ towards me.

He couldn’t tell me.

So, I ended it. There and then. I told him that ‘I cannot be with someone who cannot tell me how they feel about me.’

Then, I removed him off my snapchat. And I got a very angry text saying that ‘since you have decided to block me, I want my jacket back.’ Almost as if, looking back on it now, my decision to end it, didn’t really mean it was over. As if he was angry at the fact I did indeed mean it.

He turned up blasting his music at 11:00PM and took the jacket off the doors-step.

His anger made me doubt myself. As if I had done something wrong, something unwarranted, something hurtful – even though I was the one who was with someone who couldn’t tell me how they felt about me, and made me feel insanely insecure.

That, there, was the issue. I was insecure, and rightly so. But I thought that this was my problem, that I had just purposefully pushed someone away. Because, yes, granted, I did act on impulse when I blocked him. It’s normal to question what you do impulsively, but sometimes, I truly believe it is our bodies way of protecting us.

I told my therapist that I was always looking for a way out when I was him, I never felt safe or secure of comfortable. I was scared. And when I realised I couldn’t get out of this, 3 or 4 months in, my next instinct was to root myself so deeply into this relationship with him to try and find some security.

I felt like he was confronting my insecurity and this was an opportunity for me to deal with it. Heal it, almost. I didn’t see it as alarm bells.

So, I got back in contact with him. He punished me for about a week until he would see me to ‘sort it out’. I always find that strange now, how cruel he was, how he enjoyed me being upset, chasing after him. And I never forget how, it must have been 6 days in? I turned around and said that my ‘mistake’ did not warrant this behaviour. And then all of a sudden, it changed. I should have known then that all he was ever going to do was push and push and push me until I reached breaking point, and then very quickly make everything okay.

That, that is the basis for trauma bonding.

He picked me up the next day and I told my therapist how nervous I was when I got in the car. How when he asked me ‘how was your day?’ and then because I didn’t ask him, because I was so preoccupied with my own anxiety, he called me ‘selfish and rude’. My therapist said that’s the thing with these people – they don’t actually know you as other people do, they just know the parts to your self that they can use for their own benefit. Essentially, they pathologically calculate your insecurities right from the beginning and exploit them.

Who even feels that entitled to being asked how their day is?

It makes sense though. He always told me how ‘I only do things for other people at work, so when I need something, they do it.’ He only asked me how my day was, so he could talk about himself. And the anger that caused him when it didn’t happen.

So, we spoke. He told me that because of what had happened with his ex – which is hilarious to look back on now because she is the sweetest girl I know – he could not have my ‘happiness’ in his ‘hands’. That he could no longer be ‘responsible’ for my emotions. Naturally, I just thought he was ending it with me: how can you maintain a close bond like ours without any of those things? And, it makes me so, so furious now, that he only told me his ‘conditions’, if you like, after everything we had already become. He always said what I needed to know, a little bit too late.

He then asked me ‘do you have anything to say?’ And, obviously, given the context, I said ‘No’. What do I have to say to someone who has just ended things with me? I respected him, and anybody else enough, to not argue with his reasoning or what he already knew himself.

Why do people think it’s a good thing when someone is begging for you after you’ve said what you have to say?

It’s sad really, as I said to my therapist, because when he got angry at that ‘no’ and suddenly drove off at a really high speed without giving me the chance to put my seatbelt on, as if I had just ended it? It taught me that I should always have something to say, I should operate with him, without any self-respect.  

And so that happened.

I started to apologise for things that had nothing to do with me. I started to beg and plead – and I said to my therapist how odd it always was, that he endorsed this. A normal person makes a decision and cuts off contact. He never did, he just kept wanting me to beg, and beg some more. And then when I would eventually ‘give up’, his favourite line: ‘I’m always here if you need something.’

The one thing I always needed was for him to just let me go, and never he did.

And it got worse.

I told my therapist how in the midst of it all, when all I wanted was some clarity, because I was so confused, and so sad and so stuck. Never being able to go because I had been manipulated to feel as if I was being selfish, or letting him down. Or because, just as any other normal, rationale, inexperienced even, human being, I did not have the information I needed to make some very big decisions. And I could no longer trust myself, he made sure of that, so I couldn’t just walk away because I thought I had to. ‘You’re so stupid Liv, do you ever use your head?’ Lol, he tells the girl who got 6 9’s in her GCSEs, even though she was too depressed to revise because of him. He tells the girl, who he not that long ago told that ‘the way you think is so unique. People are going to recognise you for it one day.’ But anyway,

In the midst of it all, I would ask him questions. I asked him once if he really loved me, and he replied, ‘I love you, but not in the way you want me to.’

I remember me telling him that ‘you cannot put me in a position where you are too scared to love me, and too scared to lose me.’ That he said he understood this but didn’t agree. Even though he couldn’t tell me what he actually agreed with. He always, always withheld the things I needed in order to free myself from him.

I’ve just remember as well, I never spoke about how I felt anymore to him. My messages were always about him, to him. Never me and how I felt, as a result of him. Even though I was the one who was hurt? Weird.

I’m actually getting a headache writing this.                        

He always held me hostage to this term, too: ‘I am not emotionally repsonsibe for you.’ I used to, even when I had long walked away from him, see if there was any truth here. But, what I’ve realised, is that anything that boy says is weaponised. It is done with the intent to control you, put the blame on you and take away everything you are from yourself.

You don’t learn life lessons here. You don’t realise that something he said was right.

He said to me, right at the end of the relationship, ‘If I repeatedly told you to murder someone, and you did, and we went to court, and that was your defence, you would still go to prison. They wouldn’t believe that.’

Maybe this is why I feel so defensive about my story. Maybe everything he has said to me, about me, is why I feel like I’m not living in my own head anymore.

He told me, on that same phone call, that I had ‘deceived’ him, that I had ‘ulterior motives’. And that truly broke me. It really, really did.

I came off that phone call, thinking I needed to kill myself to save the people I loved, from me.

I felt evil.

So, maybe, that’s why I feel deceitful a lot of the time, inauthentic and wrong.

As if he’s sort of implanted a filter in my head.

Even when I’m writing this now, I fear none of you will read this and think it is as bad as I know it is, and was. He always called me ‘dramatic’.

But I know that however real my thoughts and feelings are, in this present moment, they are not true. Because they came from an inauthentic and insidious place themselves.

It just feels good to be able to finally open up. To feel as if I want to tell someone more.

It was also pointed out to me, as I described that I felt, for my whole life, I have just ploughed through it, that’s why I always feel distanced from it, that I have a ‘fearful-avoidant attachment style’.

It was my homework to go read up on this.

It is a little triggering because, even though nothing that happened last year was my fault, there is a reason why I ‘allowed’ this to happen at the start.

It seems to me, and I’ve touched on it a little before, I have a pattern of abusive relationships in my teens, because these people enable the distance I needed from others. I crave intimacy, hence why I still have relationships, but I cannot cope with the reality of it. What’s better than a self-serving psychopathic, covert, malignant narcissist to enable this behaviour? I always have someone to serve, and I will feel ‘loved’ every so often so I don’t feel the resistance to true and consistent intimacy.

I am invisible in these relationships. And it’s exactly what I’m comfortable with. Because anything else clashes with my fundamental belief that my true-self (which is never exposed in these ‘relationships’) will be abandoned, betrayed (I have a massive issue with trust, only amplified by my nex) and rejected.

The relationship I had with my caregivers in first 3 years of my life was there, but it was unsafe for me. Probably because my mother had mental health issues and treated her 2 year-old as a friend with ‘adult-like’ conversations (that F.A are actually described as).

It’s not that I fear commitment as much, I fear someone committing to me and what that might mean; perhaps again because of the burden of repsonsiblity I had in my relationships in my youth.

It might even be because of something in my teens: your brain doesn’t stop developing until you’re 25. So when I was 13, and my boyfriend hit me because I had made him ‘feel like a b*tch’ – and I never forget how scared I was when I went up to my room, it was like I knew something was going to happen. Or when that same boyfriend tried to do things to me, sexually, when I was alseep. And how for hours on end he would tell me that ‘I’m only with you because I’m tired,’ that I ‘need to go find a f*ckbuddy’, or the relentless interrogating on what I had ‘to offer’.

He even once tried to make me buy a tracksuit for him, that this was the only way he would get back with me. Luckily, I didn’t, because I couldn’t go behind my mum’s back.

It makes me feel sick now, to think of it.

My friend sent me some screenshots of our conversations from that time and I was telling her: ‘he makes me feel like no one is ever going to be able to love me for me.’ I think, from then on, I stopped being ‘myself’ as such, and started becoming exactly what people needed me to be.

It’s funny though. It’s only men who I don’t find it easy to walk away from. Women, I can do it easily. You start to control me, as a woman? You start to infringe on my personal space? You start treating me like sh*t? I have no problem in ending the friendship.

So, I have my dad to thank for for that.

I don’t know it’s difficult, because, truth be told, I’ve not had healthy friendships or relationships for a long time. My last best friend told me: ‘I wish I had never let you off my lead.’ And the other one slept with my nex, after she blamed me for letting him ruining our friendship – that I was the ‘toxic’ one, not him.

So, I mean, getting rid of those relationships was just so fine. More than fine.

Maybe not everything is to do with your attachment style.

Anyway, that’s ‘all’ I had to write for today.

AJ x

T.S No. 2

‘It’s not him you want but the cocktail of cortisol and oxytocin in your brain.’

Trauma Bonds

Today was difficult. In fact, more than difficult. It was traumatising.

My nex (narcissistic ex – who I believe is a covert malignant narc) contacted me on twitter after 6 months of no contact (a stage of moving on from abuse, most victims follow, in order to escape the abuse and break trauma bonds.)

The boy I am currently dating sent me a screenshot of my old twitter and reminded me I hadn’t shut it down; I have recently removed myself from all forms of social media – and I am a lot happier for it.

So, I logged in, to deactivate. I saw his name straight away. And boom, that lethal does of oxytocin and cortisol – some sort of drug-addictive cocktail in my brain (yes, during narcissistic abuse you are literally chemically brainwashed to think you will die without them – these are what trauma bonds are) – hit me right in the chest. And just like that, after 6 months of being nex free, I was craving him again. However – I was strong, I blocked him and then continued to deactivate my account.

I was so tempted to reply, so tempted to get that one hit. It was nothing to do with him, I’m far along enough my healing journey now to know a narcissist is not a person: they gave up their humanity a long time ago. And that, whoever I thought I knew, was just a mask used to manipulate.

I found the most helpful quora page, and it relieved me from of a lot of guilt and shame for reacting the way that I did.

I strongly recommend everyone reads it.

‘One more thing. No contact. None. Block. Don’t even peek. The trauma bonding will get you. It’s not him you want but the cocktail of cortisol and oxytocin in your brain. You’re not crazy. You’re not weak.’

I am sure that this overwhelming want to reconnect with the abuse is because your subconscious is so overwhelmed by your efforts to confront those sinister moments, see them in their true light. I imagine that’s strange for others, who haven’t understood or experienced this type of abuse, to comprehend. But, it is true. Dealing with the cognitive dissonance, the effects the gaslighting has caused, the layers and layers of manipulations, how you now see yourself and your whole past as short of evil because of his delusional projections, the flashbacks of the assaults (that at the time, you even thought were showcases of love, affection, protectiveness), is so much worse, really, than being in that state of numbness, confusion. You have no idea how painful it is to readdress a whole year of abuse. You have no idea how stressful it is to almost go through everything again, alone – which is why therapy is so essential in this healing process – so you can finally see everything for what it is and set yourself free.

Yes, in all honesty, the aftermath of the abuse is so much more worse than the abuse. You had a fantasy to protect you during the abuse, higher thoughts of the ‘person’ you ‘loved’. Your belief in change, in the goodness of them: which, ironically, isn’t true to your beliefs, it is just another product of abuse – and however that manifests itself in your personality. But, it eventually stops. That is why you do it: it eventually stops, and the abuse never would.

— And as well, being with a new partner, has triggered me A LOT. It has been so difficult at times. But, and there always is a but for every bad there is in the healing process, it simultaneously heals me. I think it is so important to acknowledge that when you are being triggered, it is indeed an opportunity to confront yet another thing, readdress it for what it really was and let go, let yourself heal from another moment of time in hell. Seeing him for what he truly was, heals one part of you – and it also hurts another. The hurt that causes is liberating, unlike what the direct hurt he caused for me. And I heal that with self-love AND external love. Love heals – and that is why, I think, being with another person, has sped up the process so much more than the pace it would have otherwise gone at.

(I have also just noticed I still don’t personalise my experience! If you read my other blog, you would know my therapist says I dissociate from this experience and talk about it as if it didn’t happen to me).

And, I am with him, because he is him. Because he is nothing but short of pure and good. Because, for the first time in my 17 years of existence, I have the privilege (whether it should be a privilege, I’m not sure) of experiencing stability with another person. Because, for the first time, ever, I like someone for them. Because I am just me when I am around him – I don’t have to please, or earn love, or make someone else comfortable. And that – that is the scariest thing I have EVER felt.

It is the type of fear they talk about when you need to grow.

And I know myself enough to know that this uncomfortableness I feel, this fear, needs to be pushed through: every time it is, it is okay – and it feels so right.

I have grown so much over the past four years. But, this, this is a different type of growth.

— The next two days were awful. Every part of my body craved for him and his touch and that insane connection. I missed it, dreadfully, guiltily, shamefully. I almost convinced myself it could be the ‘last time’, but the truth is? ‘The last time’ just meant a couple months after the other ‘last time’, once the trauma bonding got to me, and I was an addict trying to kick her habit all over again.

So, I sat down with my mum and told her – yes, it was painful. To tell the one woman who really and truly does understand what an evil, malevolent, and parasitic thing this ‘person’ was, that I wanted to see him, was more than awkward, and more than embarrassing. But I’m glad I did – because she reminded me of all the dreadful things he did to me, straight up said to me that he would use my body for a supply of pleasure and would discard me again, ruining, if not even completely taking away, 6 months of extremely good progress. I saw him for what he was again, really saw him. A deranged and cowardly thing that was a sad excuse for a human, past saving. Who cared about no living thing but himself, and sadistically enjoyed the pain he inflicted upon others.

And it just stopped. I was safe again. I had broken a trauma bond. I was on the next step away from him.

I hope the person reading this knows he/she is strong enough to kick the drug. To use their ability to see their nex for what they truly are, to put the lighter back in their bag – and their cigarette in the drain. You must recognise none of this is yours to have – it is an addiction formed from coping. Your brain and its chemicals has literally been messed with. This is not yours to have, and you must reject it.

I figured that it was good this had happened: at least it had been online and not in real life (I dread the day that will happen – because it will, eventually, and it always happens when you’re not thinking about it).

But, now I wanted to know how to break a trauma bond. I had seen articles that tell you to flick yourself with a rubber band every time you think of him/her; but I figured that was an extremely slippery slope. Another form of self-harm, which is what the lustful urge to reconnect with your abuser is, will do no good. I had seen you just have to cut your thoughts off in the midst of all those emotions, those triggers, and distract yourself like crazy. I had seen others say to just sit with it, practice mindfulness and let it pass. Because it does, it does pass. The fact that it feels like it is not going to, means that it will.

So, my new coping mechanism is distraction. I will either ring up a friend or watch a movie with my sister. I’ll talk about those evil, evil things he did. I’ll practice mindfulness or listen to happy, unrelated songs and NEVER listen to any songs that might remind me of him again. I’ll stop myself from using his name, I’ll cut myself off in my thoughts when I think about him outside of therapy. I will not, most importantly, berate myself for these thoughts – to heal, is to feel, to release and replace with self-love. Your poor mind won’t know what to do when you turn around and say ‘Boy, I get you. I know how you’re feeling. I understand you, I get it, I really do. But let me show you why we’re not going to do this today.’

I also had to message my therapist to see if this meant I didn’t like the current guy I was dating – and she said this was untrue. You need to know that this is just a universally instinctive reaction towards the aftermath of abuse – it is not true, because it came from an untrue place, however real it is. It is not telling of your present. It, at the most, is simply your subconscious feeling safe enough to allow your conscious mind to confront and breakdown what needs to be cleaned out and stitched up, so you can move on. Kind of how the stars we see, could be dead – but we see them, because it takes millions of lightyears for the light to travel to us. To think otherwise, would please your abuser and get him/her what she wants. You need to know that any thoughts that would please your abuser are not yours to have.

Sending my love and healing energies, to you and me – because, quite frankly, we both need them.

AJ

Trauma Bonding

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.

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