So many things have been in my head lately and you’ll have to forgive me if this only makes sense in my mind…
Abuse is a horrific word but it can actually encompass so many types of behaviour – physical, sexual, emotional, mental.
Again and again the word abuse has a brimming to the surface of my thoughts as I try to find a direction and the strength to go that way.
I’ve been abused. My father only really beat me extensively once, though corporal discipline was not uncommon in our house. Every day since that beating I have regretted never opening my mouth to tell. I regret wiping the tears, getting dressed and sitting quietly in church that morning. I regret covering up when I changed for gym class. I regret not speaking to the counsellor at school. I regret not telling my family members. I regret what I lost that day, which was feeling safe in my own home.
Worse than the physical abuse was the constant barrage of emotional and mental abuse. Never thinking I was good enough. Never feeling like I deserved to be loved. Never feeling loved. That robbed me of things I’ve only recently begun to grasp.
The truth is, if anyone were to raise their hand to me in anger or frustration or in any way I did not consent to, I would not hesitate one instant to file a report. And yet, when it comes to people playing with my emotions, with my heart, with my mind, more often than not I find myself running back to them for more. I can’t break this cycle. I don’t know how.
I know in my head that I don’t deserve to be manipulated or used or toyed with but I can’t end those relationships clearly. And while those that I keep engaging with are certainly to blame, I have to shoulder my share of this problem. I have had the chance to walk away over and over again. To put the games and the toying and the manipulation behind me but I just don’t.
How often have we heard it asked, “Why does she stay?”
For me it’s not only why does she stay but why does she go back; why does she keep trying to change him; why does she keep prostrating herself for him when the decision has been made; why does she let herself be treated this way?
The truth is, the worst abuser in all this is – me. I knowingly set myself up in situations which are bound to hurt, bound to break me, bound to leave me in pieces. I ignore the people around me who do care, who keep trying to tell me that I’m putting myself in danger that I should care for myself more. I should love myself more.
The truth is, I don’t know if I know how to love myself. I don’t know if I know how to care for myself, certainly not the way I need to be cared for. Taking care of my emotional self has never been a priority – amazing for someone who’s been in therapy as often as I have. I know what I should do but I chalk it up to it not being worth the sustained effort. Lately, however, I’ve had the incredibly scary realization that there is no one else alive right now who has a responsibility to take care of me mentally or emotionally except for me.
I need to stop hurting myself. I need to stop internalizing everything, especially things that are beyond my control.
I need to stop being my own abuser.