The Damn Truth

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Memoir of my abusive relationship, to shed some light on how I found my self worth.

Submitted: February 25, 2018

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Submitted: February 25, 2018

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The Damn Truth

In February of 2014, I fell in love hard and fast. He was everything I could have dreamed of and more. We came from different backgrounds and upbringings but none of that mattered to me. 

I grew up in a very loving and close family. I mean we rough housed, but I was never abused. I would do things like hit my friends and family in the arm when they were bugging me. It never seemed like a big deal.

He came from a physically and emotionally abusive household. He was also sexually abused by a man when he was a teenager. He told me all of this soon after we started dating because he knew it could alter my judgment of him. He was so gentle and kind, it didn’t bother me.

He said he was diagnosed with PTSD, but never felt the effects of it. He was no longer close with his parents because of what happened in his childhood, but said he was past it. He said he never wanted to mimic his father’s actions. He said he would never do that to a woman or his children. He told me that he wanted to raise the family that he never had.

Things moved fast. He said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me after dating for 4 months and gave me a promise ring. We moved in together soon after. Then, the honeymoon phase passed and we started to fight a lot, as most couples do about a year into our relationship.

One night he really raised his voice at me and I felt a little scared. Out of instinct, I hit him in the arm. Everyone says that it’s never okay for a man to hit a woman, but what about a woman hitting a man? Is that okay? In that moment, I thought it was. He froze and left the room and had to be alone. But he forgave me 10 minutes later and we didn’t talk about it again.

A few weeks later, I hit him again. Not hard, in my opinion. I can’t explain why I chose to do that again after seeing the effect it had on him last time. Maybe it just felt good to get my anger out. Plus, no one ever says girls can’t hit guys right?

His expression was suddenly one of extreme rage that I had never seen before. A second later, he slapped me across the face. I saw immediate remorse in his eyes and he started to pray out loud. He cried for the first time in front of me and apologized over and over. He looked so sad, it hurt me to think I made him get to the point where he felt like he needed to do that. I felt guilty, and felt like I deserved it.

I’m sure you see where this is going.

After many similar fights and similar reactions, he finally hit me again, but harder. I was so incredibly angry with him. He said he would never do this to me again. So I punched him as hard as I could, called him an asshole, and stormed out. He didn’t like that. He pinned me to the ground, screamed in my face, and punched me back. I had a baseball sized bruise on my arm for 3 weeks after. Since it was spring, and nice outside I couldn’t hide it very well. So I told people I swung my golf club at myself. This was the first of many lies I told. 

That was the last time I ever hit him, not only out of fear, but because I finally understood what it did to him. Soon after, he started to hurt me just because of our verbal arguments. I’ll try to spare most of the abusive details, but I want to tell the truth for the first fucking time in 3 years.


So, why didn’t I just leave? Good question. I always used to think girls who stayed in abusive relationships were idiots. Why the hell would you put up with that?

These are the reasons why I stayed:


1. I was in love. My first love. I thought we would be together forever. I gave him my virginity. I had a promise ring from him. He was now close with my family, and his friends were my friends. That was so hard to let go of. 


2. He always apologized and cried. I saw a broken and hurting man, and it was truly heart breaking. I felt bad for him. More than I ever felt for myself.


3. He would claim he wasn’t truly hurting me all the time. Sometimes, he would just shake me or corner me. Though I would get bruises in the shape of his fingerprint. But I would look in the mirror and tell myself it’s not that bad. Is it really considered abuse if I’m not actually being hit every time?


4. I started this. He always fucking loved to remind me of that. If I had never hit him, this cycle wouldn’t have started. He was abused as a child and I idiotically didn’t think it through the first time I chose to hit him. Or the second. I truly felt at fault.


5. He has a mental illness. He has PTSD. When he feels attacked, he defends himself in the way he knows how. Having PTSD involves hypervigilance, irritability, re-living trauma, and avoidance of certain stimuli that reminds you of that trauma. I saw every one of those symptoms. And I realized that I re-activated it, but that leads me to my next point.


6. I told myself it would go away one day. I thought maybe if he finally saw a psychologist and faced his childhood, he could get past this. I kept telling myself he just wasn’t ready yet, but one day he would be.
 

I started to make excuses and lying became second nature. It started to eat at me, emotionally and physically. I lost 20 pounds. I was never hungry. I couldn’t sleep. I had extreme anxiety I tried to seek help for, but nothing helped because I couldn’t tell a psychologist the whole truth. I was waitlisted for grad school because I couldn’t get my fucking life together. I was so stressed at home, worrying what kind of argument and beating I would be getting that day.

My friends at school started to notice that something was wrong. They asked if I was okay. They thought I was losing weight on purpose. They thought that maybe I was trying to be skinny for him. I told them it was just the stress of not getting into grad school straight away. But I was taken off the wait list that summer, so it wasn’t a great lie. They bought it for the most part. 

First year of grad school, he and I moved in with one of my best friends and her boyfriend. I knew she would catch on. She knew me too well. But I did a good job of hiding it at first.

Then he actually broke me. Well, my pinky finger. I waited 3 weeks before seeing the doctor because he threatened to leave me if I did. Then I decided to go and not tell him because it was still swollen, bruised, and non-functional. I knew it wasn’t just a sprain but he kept insisting there was just no way he could have broken one of my bones. He ‘didn’t squeeze my hand that hard.’ My finger is still fucked up looking to this day. 

The friend I was living with kept asking for a better explanation of what happened. She didn't believe my story. But I kept lying. I said I was trying to move my dresser and crushed it. While I wore a big splint over my hand the next 3 weeks that’s the story I told everyone. I was so delusional I almost believed it myself, so it became an easy story to tell. I pushed her away during this time and we lost our friendship until recently when I reached back out. Katie, I'm sorry for that. You never deserved it. You were trying to be a good friend and you were only looking out for me.

We finally moved into our own place. Now it was easier to hide. And it started to get better. It wasn’t every day. We tried to work on our relationship and go on dates again. We talked about getting engaged. I was going to take him on a trip to France with my family. And I hoped he would propose there. I was so hopeful things would continue to get better. 

The night before we left for France, he chose a big fight over dirty dishes. He proceeded to break every dish that was in the sink, threw the Chinese food we had for dinner everywhere, kicked and punched me on the ground. It was one of the worst. I had a pounding headache, I now know was a concussion. He told me he had an elaborate proposal planned and that I was a piece of shit that didn’t deserve that. I begged him to go with us to France and told him if he wasn’t ready, he didn’t need to propose.

We left and had a surprisingly amazing trip. It was like nothing happened. Except for my pounding headache for the first 4 days. He proposed and gave me a huge beautiful diamond. All like I always hoped. But then my fairytale proposal was ruined when my dad did the typical “you better not ever hurt my daughter” speech. I had to hold back tears because that ring was right next to my broken finger. I was hurt right in front of him and he had no fucking idea. This wasn’t a fairytale. But I told myself, you know what? Life isn’t a fairytale sometimes. And sometimes you love broken people. And sometimes that’s okay. 

After we got back from France, I begged him to get help. I was now going to marry this guy. It was kicking in that this was a real problem we needed to address. But he needed to want to seek help himself. So it wasn’t right away. But 2 months later, he woke up one day and said we should go see someone. We went to the doctor together. He was put on an SSRI for his PTSD. We never mentioned the abuse, just the anger.

He became a whole new person. Exactly how he was when I first met him. But now he was extremely happy, much more than the average person. He stayed up all night doing work and raced around like crazy to be productive. I didn’t think too much of it at the time. But now I realize he was manic. His father also has bipolar disorder. The SSRI he was put on must have tipped him into a manic state.


He continued to be crazed into his work, and I just ignored it and absorbed myself in wedding planning. I put it off like we were both just too busy. Then he started to go to all these work parties, getting involved in all these organizations, and was texting all these random numbers that had to do with “work”.

He hated when I looked over his shoulder at his phone like I didn’t trust him. But he never hit me. The abuse stopped immediately after he went on anti-depressants. So I put the distrust in the back of my mind. I was being crazy - he would never cheat on me. He was always so jealous of any other guy in my life that it wouldn’t make sense. And we were better now, right?

We went up to Maine one weekend. This was our weekend to finally spend time together and escape from work. Everything was going really well, until we decided to book a trip to DC together on Airbnb. After booking, I went to check on the reservation and saw 2 others on there. I did the math, and I wasn’t with him during those 2 weekends. One of the weekends was when I went home and bought my wedding dress. I flipped shit and accused him of cheating. We got in a loud fight and he said I was crazy, that he must have been hacked somehow. I told him I believed him to give myself time to think.

I had an extreme anxiety attack when we got back because this all fit the weird picture that had been forming the past few months. All the weird phone numbers, the people I didn’t know that he went out with after work, and the times where he stayed overnight at a "friend’s house."

I collapsed and my heart was racing. I went to urgent care, then they sent me to the ER. I was in SVT because of how anxious I made myself. Plus I was barely eating and skinnier than ever. When this happened, he didn’t even come with me. He’s like “you’re fine”. But I wasn’t fine. Now I was angry. He didn't even care about my well being anymore.

When he left the next day for work, I went through his computer. I found emails back and forth with the Airbnb hosts. He didn't even delete this shit, what an idiot. And now I know he cheated. I was done. I called my mom, told her everything, said I’m leaving him, and I asked her to pick me up. My mom said, “Paige think this through, that’s not like him. Give him a chance to explain.” Because she just didn’t see it.

And I was living with him and our whole wedding was already planned, so it was a big deal to leave. I also don’t blame my mom for saying that to me, she just didn’t want me to be impulsive and she didn’t know the full story. So I called him, and again he said his email must have been hacked too. But the emails sounded just like him and were signed the way he signs all his other e-mails. It wasn’t right. But, yet again, he convinced me again to stay.

I pushed him hard one night to show me proof that he didn’t cheat. I saw the anger building but I kept pushing because I didn’t give a fuck anymore.

He punched me in the face for the first time ever. I had a black eye for a week and I'm now pretty sure he nearly fractured my nose. It hurt for 4 months afterwards.

Thankfully I was on break from school so no one saw my face. That’s the moment I knew I wasn’t crazy. He hadn’t hit me in almost a year. He had never gone so far as to punch me in the face. He was definitely cheating.

I couldn’t take it anymore, so I confided in one of my best friends in school a month later. It was during finals week and we were studying together. I broke down and told her everything about the cheating. I even told her that he broke my finger, but lied and said it was on accident. I know she knew there was more to it than that, but she didn’t push me to say. I told her I needed to leave him, but that I couldn’t do it alone.

She was with me as I texted him and told him I wasn’t sure I could do this anymore. Immediately he threatened to kill himself. He couldn’t live without me. As much as my friend and others said this is just a ploy, I couldn’t deal with that hanging over my head. It was too much to deal with.

So I told him I wouldn’t leave him. My friend let me stay at her house that night. Plus we had a huge exam the next morning. Sarah, I hope you know how much I appreciate you for being there for me. I cried when you told me you passed our exam. I was so concerned I fucked it up for you and you wouldn't move onto rotations because of me.

The next day, she confided in one of our other friends. Which I totally understand. It was a lot to put on one person. She was genuinely concerned for my safety. She wanted to go back to my apartment with me after our final because she was afraid he might hurt me. I convinced her there was nothing to be worried about. But I had a plan.

I told him I wanted to move back near home to save money. But I really wanted to move back to have my family to lean on when I finally had the strength to leave him. Over the next 2 months, I became fucking psychotic. I went through everything he had when he was gone. One day, I made him show me all his credit card statements. Those trips were all there, on multiple credit cards too. Again, “I was hacked.” Fucking bullshit. I yelled and screamed because I wanted him to hit me so I had a reason to call the cops and leave him.

I did so much for him and loved him through everything that he put me through. I didn’t deserve this. This time I fucking knew I didn’t deserve it. I couldn’t find it in myself to leave because I knew he would try to kill himself if I did. And I still didn’t have concrete proof. He found a way to argue every point I made. Then I thought maybe I could convince him to leave me instead so I wouldn’t have to deal with his suicidal thoughts. I spent weeks trying to make him hate everything about me. We just argued more.

We went to Maine again, but this time for a vacation with my mom and stepsister. I woke up in the middle of the night to him gone. I found him outside on his phone, but he claimed it was nothing. When we went back to sleep, I decided to check on who he called. That same random number, he was exchanging “I love you” with over text. That’s all I needed to see. Proof.

I woke him up, and I gave him my ring and car keys and told him to leave. I even let him do it quietly before I told my mom. He called me an hour later. He crashed my car and told me he was suicidal. He couldn’t live without me. I had to threaten calling the cops. I called every one of his close friends and they found him and stayed with him that night.

The first month after our breakup was crazy and I honestly blocked most of it out of my mind. I failed one of my exams for school. I had to tell everyone about my failed engagement and I knew it would spread like wildfire. I had to lie about the real reasons to my grandma and others because I knew they couldn't bare to hear the truth. I had to delete all of our pictures, and throw away all the love notes he ever wrote me.

I still never mentioned the physical abuse. It took me a full month before I finally sought a therapist. And it took me 3 months before I blurted it out to my very best friends.

What happened to my now ex fiancé? He apparently got help. He got back on his meds. I let his friends be his friends, and never told them what truly happened. He needed the support. He didn’t have a family to support him like I did. I helped him find an apartment and his own car. I helped him sell the ring. I went back several times to see him and hang out like friends to make it easier for him. From what I hear, he’s doing well.

Everyone asks how I could be so nice with such a nasty situation, and the truth is that he has a mental illness. He needed help, not an angry ex. He needed to see and feel compassion, not hate.

ADDENDUM:

Recent events made me feel the need to add to this story. I was talking to my ex's friend, and he said to me, “that dude has cheated on every girl he’s ever been with”. That caught my attention. My ex obviously never mentioned cheating on anyone before me. In fact, he told me he had only slept with 2 women before me and that they were both long term girlfriends.

His friend can count at least 6 girls he slept with. Most of which were while he was still with his past girlfriends. I don’t blame his friend for not mentioning it before, it wasn’t his place. And he clearly didn’t expect him to be cheating on me since we were about to get fucking married.

At first I was so angry I cried on and off for 2 days. Does this mean we meant nothing? Everything he told me from the very beginning was a damn lie. How long had he been cheating on me? Probably longer than I originally thought.

This has nothing to do with mental illness anymore. He's a chronic liar. He deliberately tried to make me believe he had never done wrong, and that everything with me was so special and different. Fucking bullshit.

I wanted to send a nasty message. I wanted him to know that I knew how much of a liar and asshole he was. But then I decided to be bigger than that. No response from him would ever satisfy me.

I instead deleted his contact, blocked his number, and blocked him on all social media. I won’t answer his phone calls ever again. I won’t be there for him. He doesn’t deserve that. He doesn’t deserve for me to care about him anymore. I also have tried to disconnect from most of his friends, because I want my life to remain private and seperate from his.

I’m worth more than this. Though now he’s left me with chronic trust issues and a fucked up looking finger. But it doesn't bother me anymore. I’m glad he’s out of my life, and I’d like to think I’m a stronger person because of it. 

I’ve come to learn that the psychological and physical abuse that I was subjected to doesn’t define me, nor does it define anyone who stayed in an abusive relationship longer than they should have.

I don’t regret the decisions I made. It taught me to be more patient, kind, and compassionate than I was before. I learned how to remain calm in the most stressful of situations.

But I also learned through self-reflection and therapy, that no matter what you’ve said or done in the past, you don't ever deserve abuse of any kind. And you’re the only one who can choose to end it once you realize you’re worth more than that.

I decided to get a tattoo today, of the word “worthy”, in case I ever needed a reminder.

This is my way of finally telling everyone what happened and what I've learned. The truth hurts, but it feels so damn good.

 


© Copyright 2018 Lou Grey. All rights reserved.

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