Slightly cold…damp air…dark, it’s hard to see because of the darkness. Alone. So very alone. This place was meant to be my safe place and once upon a time it was. It was comfort. It was closeness. It was good for my soul, or at least that’s what I had intended it to be. But now I find myself curled in a protective ball and with painfully limited options.
This scene plays over and over in my mind. I can not escape it. Despite my best efforts and all the support in the world, I remain frozen in a never ending cycle of abuse. I rise sometimes, gain strength, take steps forward toward health and well-being. But always, the cold darkness returns when my abuser enters the picture.
And I feel guilty. I invited him in. I gave him a comfortable place to feel safe. We had amazing times together! The joy, the excitement, the relief he brought to my life, to my experience. And so, when things got rough, I stuck by him. “It’s just a one time thing” I convinced myself. “I can manage the situation so that never happens again.”
But it continued to happen. Each time I rise, learn my lesson and carry on only to be blindsided once more. Now I feel stupid and useless. Why can’t I break free? Why must he tempt me back in? Why do I not have the strength to go running the opposite way? It’s because of those beautiful feelings and memories I keep of us. Feeling safe, feeling relief from daily troubles, feeling more like myself and being able to contribute to my life freely and with joy. Maybe this time it’ll be different.
I’m an intelligent woman. I’ve heard the stories of others in my situation. I know logically that it won’t be different. I know logically that this relationship is destroying me and stripping my soul of vitality. But still, I can not step away from the obsession. And it is obsession! My thoughts are filled with him when we are separate. I plan ways to spend more time with him. I’ve lied and manipulated in order to protect him. This too feeds my guilt and same.
I can leave him. Or at least I hope I can. I can break free…or at least I hope I can. I’ve seen others do it! I have resources. I am resilient and tenacious. This is going to take everything I’ve got. But I now know, he is not my companion! He is my abuser.
This heavy realization brings up complicated and twisted emotions. Fear, sadness, helplessness, powerlessness, anger, hope, dreams of something different, desire for freedom, creativity in coming up with ways to leave, guilt and shame for ever letting him into my life.
I know it’s not my fault. But at the same time, it is! I invited him over and over. I allowed things to progress even when I recognized that it wasn’t going well. This guilt keeps me coming back, hoping for a better outcome. Insanity. Yes, insanity – doing the same thing over and over hoping for different outcomes. In this, I bear the responsibility. I am insane.
But there is a way out. There is a safer place I can go. There is a community to support me. My family to lift me up when I can no longer stand on my own. And they want to! I simply need to walk away, gain distance, gain prospective.
The first step is the hardest. Can I get far enough in a short amount of time? So far, I haven’t. But I also haven’t stopped trying.
My Abuser waits, resting patiently. He now has this new moniker “Abuser”. No longer a companion. No longer a place of refuge. Perhaps this will give me the motivation to get far enough away.
My abuser isn’t a person. My abuser is my addiction. I will never be separate from him. He will live forever in my mind and be a part of my experience. But it’s up to me to gain that distance and perspective in order to support my recovery and release myself from that cold, damp, dark place that addiction takes me.