Being a woman in this world can be difficult. Think of all the images we have to fight against in our pursuit of being deemed of value, acceptable. Society has allowed itself to not only adopt the idea that the “average” woman is a tall, slender (with curves in just the right places), goddess with flowing locks and perfect makeup, it has forced these images upon our young women in increasingly brutal campaigns to make them feel as though they have to conform or perish. Disappear. Fade away and be counted out. We as a society have taught our daughters that perfection in terms of beauty is what matters, not developing and continuously training their intellect, reason, and conscience or cultivating the ability to love, respect, and honor not only others but Jehovah and themselves.
At this point, many of you may begin to protest, falsely believing that this is going to be a post bashing everything male. Allow me to correct this before you read any further, because I assure you will otherwise miss out on an insightful read. It isn’t often I allow so many people in all at once. Allowing Kerwyn to see me for everything I am is one thing. He knows me, perhaps at this point better than I can admit to knowing myself, and even with all my faults and current neurotic tendencies, he is kind, gentle, compassionate, patient, and loving. However, this thing… this vulnerability with the masses that I always so carefully avoid will spring forth, I assure you… as intimidating as I find that to be. But forward momentum never comes by spinning your wheels in the mud. So, one last deep breath, and off it goes.
In a world filled with so much shallow, narrow thinking, unreachable expectations, and judgmental hearts, many of us were still able at one point to find someone who appreciated us no matter our state. Kerwyn was a sweetheart to me at all times. Of course, as a man, he appreciated effort I put into my appearance. I do not think any of us could ever say the opposite. However, that was not (and is not now) his main focus. He is a man of substance and looks for the same, so intelligence and reasoning and conscience do not frighten him away. Kerwyn also is not a man to compliment trivial things, so when he takes the time to show appreciation and gratitude or compliments me, I have no doubts that is coming from his heart or that he is being genuine.
The problem is after Kerwyn, I allowed myself to establish an unattainable benchmark for Kevin. Unattainable not because being loving and kind and genuine in itself is a difficult thing, but when you are Kevin, it apparently is. Kevin was good at feigning this. All abusers are, or they would not get in so close and hurt us so deeply.
It was doomed to fail at the start, and had I not been so wrapped up in my rash, impetuous behavior, maybe I would have seen it. This is the thought that bangs and thumps around in my head, just enough so that the dust never quite seems to settle. I cannot quiet it; I cannot escape it. It lies in wait to agitate my peace and shake up the calm. I detest things stealing my peace. I fought hard to get it.
Still it persists and steals my sleep. I have to tell myself I should have seen it, my brain reasons in hindsight. That’s the wonderful thing about being able to look back; I already know everything. I can see everything coming; there are no pitfalls in which to become ensnared nor monolithic obstruction blocking my view. The questions and their answers lie unfolded before me like a well-used map.
It would be easier that way, would it not? Everything all neatly mapped out and labeled with fluorescent arrow-shaped stickers with notes scribbled in permanent marker: the first time he calls me stupid. The first time he calls me fat. The first time he threatens my life. The first time he chokes me. The first time he stole my debit card and ran off in the middle of the night. The first eviction. Had this all been mapped out, I could have avoided this all.
Ah, the flawed logic of a mind brainwashed to believe it is inferior. Still trapped in the prison I fought to escape. Just another form of his voice echoing within my skull. Stupid. Oblivious. Retarded. Worthless. Some of the words he liked to call me most. So I hold onto these words for what? Because I believe they are true? Because they are valid, justifiable, on-point? Nothing is ever that simple. No matter what I do, no matter what I try to tell myself, they persist.
Normally, I can fight this off. On any other day, I wouldn’t even be trapped here in this fog that swirls furiously in an attempt to swallow me whole. I know better. It was not my fault, and I am none of the hateful, cruel things he insisted I was. I know he took advantage of me lied, manipulated, used, and deceived me. He and he alone abused and violated me, forcefully and viciously. I know this. I know this as deeply as I know I love Kerwyn. As sure as I know that none of you are at fault for what was done to you and you did not see it coming either. We were given no maps to those who caused us harm, but why do I persist? Why are some days so hard?
Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I tend to be pretty positive and consistent with my progress. I know that I am blessed to be away from Kevin, to be in the company of a wonderful, loving, kind man like Kerwyn. I know that I am blessed to know Jehovah and that I have been able to dedicate my life to serve Him with nothing but encouragement and support from the one closest to me. Each day I wake up is a gift to me, and I assure you I do all I can to show my appreciation for that and use it in the full.
However, this weekend was difficult for me to get through, and I truly have no idea why. I found the thoughts above constantly on my mind, and I could not escape them. What caused it does not matter; it can be different things for all of us. I debated on not bringing it up, but I did not come here to be silent after suffering in silence for those years. I decided to share it so those of you who may be just coming out of an abusive relationship or even months or a few years down the road will not have to question your bad days. So you will not have wonder if you are the only one. That loneliness is the worst feeling to endure. And so is the burgeoning of words that shot through every part of you like a bullet, tearing and shredding each layer of your confidence away. Words have the power to kill, all semantics aside. A slow emotional death is a horrid way to shrivel up and disappear.
“I can’t believe you; you’re so stupid!”
“Ain’t nobody want no stupid, fat, lumpy, white b****!”
“Why don’t you just kill yourself already. Me and everyone else would be a lot better off, I tell you that! No one would miss you. No one!”
As bad as those are to hear on a daily basis, there are things that are so bad, I cannot put them here. This is partially because I do not want to cause more emotional harm to those still searching and fumbling in the darkness for stability after what they have been through. However, it is mostly due to the fact that there is one thing in particular that cut through me and hurt so bad that I gave up fighting and resigned myself to living and dying with this monster. One thing that was so cruel, vicious, and deliberately crafted to cause me so much shame, I withdrew in silence, and he proceeded to trample me down. You see, I cannot, I will not, I absolutely refuse to put this in words, because it involves my dear Kerwyn, and I cannot bear to say this thing. It was not meant as an insult to him, but to me, and I never believed that it was how Kerwyn felt about me. What matters is that Kevin had brought me to a point where I believed it about myself.
How does it feel to reach this point? I am not generally one to do this, because I feel your own words describe your life experiences best. However, Arthur Golden nailed it, and I cry every time I see this. If you have seen Memoirs of a Geisha, there is one point at the end where Sayuri fears she has lost the one thing she allowed herself to want. As she climbs to the top of the crags at the sea and releases his handkerchief in the winds, her voiceover says, “A heart dies a slow death, shedding each hope like leaves… until one day there are none. No hopes. Nothing remains. It is not for -AMY- to want. It is not for -AMY- to feel. -AMY- is an artist of the floating world. She dances. She sings. She entertains you. Whatever you want. The rest is shadows. The rest is secret.”
I replaced -GEISHA- with my name, so it would read correctly. The metaphors are glaringly obvious for those of us who have been through it. Our emotional death is slow, hopeless, and we go through it alone. While on the outside we all do our little song and dance routine to hide our shame, the pain thrives in the darkness. In the corners and recesses, behind closed doors. And we languish. All from carefully and insidiously planned words plunged into our hearts.
What I can say to end this on a positive note is that through my struggles post Kevin, I have been able, for the most part, to find some balance. I have to say again that I am blessed to have such a strong, patient man in my life. I need to tell myself that I am strong, I have overcome, and I have worth and value and beauty. Still working on the patience part… and a kind, gentle woman I think of as my mother reminded me tonight that I have been doing very well at healing, and I can’t get down on myself for this hiccup. She had to remind me that it will pass.
Just a shame, though. All this turmoil and self-doubt arising from just some words I heard once.