From the outside, everything seems perfect.
It doesn’t show.
There is no scar, no bruise or no mark.
Emotional abuse can often go undetected. Like an infectious parasite leaking through the recesses of the mind rendering its victim unconscious. Oblivious to your reality, you believe everything is normal. Everything is perfect. But then again, you don’t really understand what is happening. All you know is you love him and you can’t live without him.
In the initial stages of the relationship, it’s all coming up roses. He says you are his soulmate. It’s always been you, from the start. That he feels different when he is around you. That he wants to be a different person. You make him want to be a better person, have a better life and live differently. He came back for you!
Suddenly, he wants the same things you do. He values the same things you do. He is sending you flowers, taking you to fancy restaurants, writing you love notes, sending you song after song in which he declares his never ending love for you.
You are not like his past. He didn’t love her the same way he loves you. He is not like that person he was with her. He is different now. You make him feel different. You change him.
So you give him your light and your soul. And he takes it. Each piece of you is building him up as he is effortlessly pushing you down.
Once he has exhausted your supply, he tosses you aside. Broken, abused and no longer useful.
Emotional abuse is slow. Like a builder, he chips away a piece of you. Each hurtful word, every vindictive behaviour and every spiteful action slowly takes away your light. Takes your confidence. Your positivity. Your beliefs.
Emotional abuse is full of lies, deceit and betrayal.
You aren’t even aware of the pain, unhappiness and suffering you feel.
You find yourself apologising for everything. You take responsibility for every action, every tear and every consequence.
You own all the lies he tells. You take all the feelings he throws.
You are sorry he is late for work. You are sorry he had a fight with his friends. You are sorry for feeling. You are sorry for expressing yourself. You are sorry for existing.
He makes you feel so small, so insignificant. He degrades you, belittles you and you start to believe it. Maybe you are nothing. Maybe no one will notice. Just maybe.
Then come the gifts.
At the moment you decide you can’t take it anymore: You get flowers. You get clothes. You get watches. You get shoes. You get “I love you” messages and “I can’t live without you” calls.
The switch flips and he is nice guy again.
Confused and in a daze you go back. Enticed by the thought that maybe you were right all along. There is a good guy deep down. This time will be different. He has changed. He will be different.
It is not long before he gets bored. He gets tired of the same stuff and he starts to pull the same tricks.
He becomes distant. Barely responding to messages. Never calling you back. Cancelling on your dates.
The paranoia sets in. The panic takes it places. The fear is rising.
The cycle is never ending. He pulls you in and then pushes you away. It’s a game to him. A constant, nagging illness that consumes him until he relieves it. He is an addict.
You realise that it is very difficult to breathe. Struggling, crumpled over, laying alone on the bathroom floor you let it all out.
All the years of torture, confusion, pain and betrayal. You cry and cry and cry and cry, until there is nothing left.
Beaten, overwhelmed, exhausted and vulnerable. You realise that nothing will change. He will not change. Around him you cannot breathe.
You find what little strength you have left and you pick yourself up off the floor. You walk away.
Opening the doors, inhaling for the first time.
A deep, real, big breath. Filling from your mouth to the bottom of your belly.
You walk away.
You walk towards your light.
You find shelter within the confined walls of your own soul. You rebuild, restructure and regain yourself. You find your voice. You start to make your own decisions, you share your opinions and you set healthy boundaries. You become more assertive and more confident.
You come alive.
You survived and you are stronger for it.
You walk forward and you never look back.
Author: Elle Phillips
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Victoria Hendersen