One year ago today, I set myself free. Left the relationship, the man, the place that was keeping me bound. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, and I am still recovering.
In the three years he & I were together, I became isolated from family and friends, was bullied and ignored, alternately told I was stupid and beautiful, treated like a second-class citizen and on occasion, a princess. He denies that our relationship was in any way abusive or even dysfunctional. He believes I ruined his life; that every problem we had was my fault. I do not deny my fault in some things; I am, by no means perfect.
Yes, I tried to change some things about him. I am a woman, that’s what we do. In my defense, what I wanted him to change were things little things like picking up socks, taking out the trash. Oh, and a few bigger things, such as getting a job, not lying to me, filing divorce papers, and not hitting on our friends. Maybe that was asking too much? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.
I never once put him down, even when I could have, but he constantly tried to make me feel stupid. Compromise was something he would never do; I always had to give in.
My paltry checks paid all the bills, and any money I spent had to be accounted for. I had to borrow money from my family for things like toilet paper and shampoo, but he always found enough cash to buy treats and toys for his dog. The grocery shopping was a huge issue. On the once-a-month shopping trip, he’d give me a time limit, usually 20 minutes, then he’d sit in the car, while I shopped, and be angry if I took longer than he thought I should, or spent too much. The time constrain was his way of controlling me, and it made me angry, and sometimes frightened. I was always worried I’d come out of the store, into the dark parking lot to find him gone.
It took a long time for me to work up the courage to leave. I tried once before, even began packing. He cried so hard, sobbing and weeping, and I gave in, and stayed. This time, I couldn’t. In spite of his threats of suicide if I left, even though he claimed he’d end up living under the bridge if I left. My own life finally mattered more. I broke those chains, and left.
Freedom is bittersweet. I was once a hopeful romantic, and now, the idea of love, at least for me, seems ridiculous. I have a very difficult time trusting people anymore. I am angry at him, very angry, and it may take a long time to get over that.
One year. I am free, and it good.