Feeling a bit like damaged goods after abusive relationships (potentially triggering).(2 Posts)
I am happy on my own, but would like to let someone into my life slowly.
However, when I mention ex-boyfriends to friends (except those who are close), I find myself diluting and excusing how bad they were. The gap between reality and the stories I share with others has clarified how bad those relationships were.
I don't want my identity to be "the girl who was raped", "the girl with the abusive exs". I am me and I know I am strong for having survived what I have, even though it wasn't actually that bared compared to what other women go through. For example, I have no DC. They were all relationships in my early twenties/teens, and the only incident of physical violence was a hard shove that knocked me off my feet.
It was more about the fear of what might come.
I am a people-pleaser and have done codependence self-help. Nonetheless, when I am around others I find myself anticipating storms and trying to make people happy to avoid conflict. I feel like I am forever flinching in anticipation of a backhand that doesn't quite come, emotionally speaking.
I am trying to journal my feelings to work through this and let the past go. I believe in my heart that I want to let go, but there's still these patterns in my brain and I know they'll only leave me over time.
I still look in the mirror and see the women I was compared to, and how I come up short. When I put on makeup I feel I am defying E, who used to wipe it off my face. I got a piercing and I knew he'd have hated it and pulled it out like he did the others. Sometimes I get a hateful email from an anonymous account and I know it's him, or a troll post on social media, something really hateful. He is in the shadows somewhere and I am sure he will emerge one day. I was a stupid kid when I was with him, just 19 and too in love, and when I grew up he didn't go with me. He got worse and tried to crush me. When I lived with him I felt like I was in hell. When I dumped him he threatened suicide, cut himself in front of me, and it ripped into my soul. When his dad died, he left me a voicemail message calling me a cunt for not answering the phone, and describing his corpse.
I really gave the best of me in trying to keep all the relationships going and I now find other people quite tiring. After a day of work I just want to be by myself. But I also want somebody to do fun things with sometimes.
I'm sorry this is rambly.
My second long abusive relationship was another 3 years and the violence was more sexual in nature, more subtly manipulative. He didn't rage like my other ex, he tortured me with small cuts, an insult here and there. Things like refusing to kiss me, getting out of bed after sex and going to smoke. Pushing me away, emotionally and physically, but claiming to love me when he was drunk (which was often) or high on coke (which came later). I used to lie in bed next to him and cry quietly so he didn't wake up and get annoyed. I became very depressed. At one point I took an overdose of tablets, and when he found me he made me perform a sex act or he threatened to take me to a&e (where I would feel ashamed). That was among the lighter things he did to me.
All of this is locked up in me still and I feel very alone at times. I try to isolate myself a bit and manage friendships very carefully.
I have been dating a man who seems nice. It's been slow. We met in October and have only just slept together. He didn't get up and leave, he stayed, and we cuddled and were close, and he slept in my bed at night, and seemed glad to wake up with me. But without the jealous, violent intensity of my first ex. He seems to like me, and not care whether I am perfect, and not want to shape me into something else.
But it makes me feel scared. I don't want to update this post with a third abusive ex. I want to be careful, mindful. I want to be better than I was in the past, stronger and cleverer. But we follow old patterns. Is there any hope I can rid myself of all of this?
Firstly I am sorry for what you have been through, both your exes sound vile.
Yes we do follow patterns to a certain extent but it doesn't mean we keep to them. Plenty of people have bad, abusive relationships and end up in a supportive, healthy relationship.
You have done work on yourself, you have recognised the relationships for the awful ones they were. You are taking your current relationship slowly.
If you feel your past is locked up in you and you want to release it counselling can really help.
You come over as bright, thoughtful and lovely by the way and I hope your new relationship works out.
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