People often wonder why women, or men, stay in relationships that are either emotional or physically harmful.
When you are on the outside looking in, you can easily see the devastation and destruction that is taking place. However, when you are on the inside, deep in it, standing barefoot in the middle of a storm, it is all not so clear to see.
No one will ever quite know why she stayed. She will never fully know the answers herself.
She stayed because she didn’t know herself why she was staying. She didn’t know why she wasn’t leaving either. Are they the same thing? She didn’t know.
She can’t really remember. Though, that’s not really a surprise. Back then there were days, many of them, when she would have struggled to even remember her own name.
I think she stayed because at the time, many, many moons ago…she wasn’t really staying. She was just surviving.
As, he was the mesmerizing Dr. Jeckyl before unveiling the wrath of the mysterious Mr. Hyde.
And she thought those butterflies in her tummy were the sign of love. (They weren’t, they were warning signals advising her to flutter her own wings and fly. Far.)
Because he told her she was different than all his others. (She wanted to believe him. Desperately.) And that he never stopped thinking about her. (Nope. No. He really only ever thought of himself.)
She believed him. She believed everything.
She trusted him. (She was carelessly naïve. She genuinely never realized human beings were capable of such callous extremes.)
She fell for the charm. (All the way. Foolishly.)
She dreamed of fantasy. (He proved that fairy tales did come true and that they were filled with illusions.)
She thought it was passion. (It was all just fire. The raging out of control kind.)
She thought she was being vulnerable and brave by opening up to him about her hopes and fears. (She was giving him all the ammunition he needed so that he could fire cowardly shots towards her whenever the slightest thing triggered him.)
She thought at first he was a blessing. (He was in fact a wicked curse.)
She was looking for mystery. (She found misery.)
She thought it was too good to be true. (It was too good to be true. It certainly wasn’t good and it sure as hell wasn’t true.)
She wanted him to love her. (He had no chance. She had no idea that she first must love herself.)
She wanted his approval. (She was never going to receive it. Seeking his validation is what kept the unbalanced scales tipped destructively in his favor.)
She thought he would mend the broken pieces caught within her ribcage. (He took a hammer to each one and shattered them beyond recognition. She eventually realized, no one else could mend her, she absolutely had to mend herself.)
She thought they were bound together with unbreakable rope. (He was the noose around her neck. He would smile to himself believing she would never dare walk away while he held the end of it.)
She thought she couldn’t survive without him. (She was clinging to life by staying with him.)
She thought the rollercoaster ride they were on was normal. (Until she felt the last jolt when it slammed hard into the railings. And she fell. Alone (of course.) Hitting the ground hard as the last piece of metal from the paint stripped carriage followed her down.)
She hit the ground hard. Many times. (And that was near the beginning of the journey she was on. The magical path that she once thought was leading to love.)
From that moment on she was immobilized. She lived in fear. She mistrusted herself. She lost her ability to think straight. She lost her courage, her confidence. She couldn’t love herself. She didn’t like herself. She was ashamed of herself. She felt she couldn’t talk to anyone. As they might judge her harder than she judged herself. She was lost.
So, she doubted herself constantly. She took all the blame (and still carries a lot of it with her.) She blames herself for staying. She blames herself for refusing to see that she would never want anyone she cared about or loved to stay in such a treacherous environment. So why did she allow herself to?
She thought she was to blame. She must be the reason he was angry. She was the reason he drank too much. The reason he was aggressive. The reason he cheated. The reason he mocked her. Resented her. The reason he was volatile. The reason he lied (about everything). The reason he was permanently wired just waiting to explode. She thought she was his reason for everything.
She couldn’t see that she wasn’t. She couldn’t see anything.
So, she stayed. And she stayed. Amongst the chaos and the trauma.
Until one day. She knew that no one else could do it for her. She had to do it for herself.
She stood up. She looked for a long time at the mess she had become. She picked herself up from a heap on the cold bathroom floor. She put her arms around herself. And she forgave herself. She finally realized that no knight on a white horse would be arriving. No one could possibly come to her defense because she could never bear to tell anyone (a foolish and risky error).
So, she took the first step forward and clung on tightly and she rescued herself.
There is a line, and it isn’t a fine one. It is thick and it is black and it is scored out carefully on the step that leads to that door. Never step into it. Ever. If you do, you might be shocked to find you end up staying too.
“Love is joy. Don’t convince yourself that suffering is part of it.” ~ Paulo Coelho
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Helga Weber