I’ve an awful confession: I miss my abuser.
It’s pretty lonely on the outside. I feel sad when I see families out together, or I hear a song we used to belt out together back when we were happy. The chair next to me is empty, and his side of the bed is uncomfortably neat.
I miss having someone to cuddle up to. To make a coffee for. To coo with me about our child’s latest achievement holding a spoon and not getting too much yoghurt up the wall. To listen as I vent about my tough day.
Oh, hang on… The cuddle – as much of a threat as a promise – usually had strings attached which I’d have to dance to. I’d shopped for and paid for the coffee alone, as with pretty much everything else in the house – since he’d gambled away what he earned. The child should be in bed – or, if not asleep – certainly not expecting a nappy change from him any time soon. He wasn’t interested in my bad day. Didn’t I realise that he had problems which were bigger and certainly more important? I should do: after all, they were my fault because I didn’t love him enough, I didn’t do enough for him, didn’t understand him and didn’t respect him.
I asked too many questions when I should have just accepted what I was told. I didn’t trust him because I was crazy, not because he was a habitual liar. I had sex with his friends – he had no proof of this just now, but when he got the evidence he’d hang me from a lamp-post.
Okay, Diary, so it’s not so much HIM that I miss – more the idea of him. Or the memory of the man I thought he was. I miss the sweet, compassionate, handsome illusion he gave me in the early years. Then, he was my life-partner, who would always put my needs ahead of his own, and who would be a fantastic father. He was Prince Charming, with the frog-warts well hidden.
These days, I’ve been out of this abusive relationship for what seems like forever, Diary. When I resolved to leave him, I expected that after my exit I would feel overwhelming relief (which I did) and run into a peaceful, quiet sunset without a tornado on the horizon.
Why didn’t you tell me that leaving was an ongoing process? That it was hard and lonely, and I’d have to work at it every day. I couldn’t have known that I had the strength and resilience to be a single mother, whilst coming to terms with the trauma that surfaced once I had escaped the whirlpool. I suspected, but I didn’t realise, how frightened I’d be to leave my house and how scared I’d be to stay at home – in case this is the moment he decides to try again to win me back or act on his threats.
I stick rigidly to the ‘no contact’ rule, and even though I’m terrified that he continues to stalk me; there’s still a little part of that elastic band that wants to snap me back to him. Because it would be easier to give in. He may have learned his lesson, this time – and have magically transformed into the charming mask he once wore – Disney fairytale style!
You know what though, Diary? I know my Prince Charming never existed. The genie of abuse is out of the bottle and nobody can stuff it back in. So, though it is hard work staying out, it is worth it. I may be alone, but I don’t regret it. Life isn’t easy but at least it is mine, and my choices are mine. And I choose to raise my child in the best possible way. I choose that we are both happy and safe.
As for him, he and his Prince Charming mask can stay in the shadows, where they belong.
Text © Avalanche of the Soul, 2013