There are so many aspects of abuse that are cruel – the flashbacks, the fear, the feeling that you aren’t and will never be good enough to be loved. The hurt, the anger, the sadness. The memories. Those memories that are a stain you can’t get out, no matter how hard you scrub, like red wine on a white carpet.
Apparently it’s not enough to feel unworthy throughout your life, in friendships, relationships, your job, as a parent. It’s not enough to sometimes realize that thanks to one person’s actions you find yourself in a pattern of seeking out the same behavior in others, over and over, trapped in a cycle. Seeking the same dysfunction with a different face
Because it’s what you believe you deserve. What you believe you’re worth.
You believe you’re worth the violence – blows, slaps, shoves, punches.
You believe you’re worth the cruelty – the swearing, the curses, the demeaning epithets and insults.
When those things just aren’t enough….there’s more.
I’ve endured all of these. I thought I’d broken the pattern, put it behind me.
I did break the pattern, but it’s not behind me.
It’s there with me, like my shadow, waiting for its chance to reveal itself when I’m weak. When I’m too tired to fight it, fight the memories, fight those lying beliefs.
What’s crueler than the scars abuse leaves on those who have been abused?
It’s making that person you’ve chosen to be with feel like one of the abusers.
It’s finally breaking the pattern and finding someone who won’t hit, who isn’t cruel, who doesn’t control you – and letting that person see the naked fear in your eyes during an argument. Showing that terror and expectation of an imminent strike – even though that’s the last thing on their mind, that they would never raise their hand to you. That they would never utter those cruel words that another did in the past.
It’s not being able to completely outrun the past, outrun learned behavior, outrun expectation. It’s pushing that extra inch during an argument to see if they will hit you. It’s pushing that innocent person to the brink just to see if they’re like all the rest.
It breaks my heart.
What makes it worse is the eight years I’ve spent not being abused, not being talked down to, not being controlled and that fear is still there, just under the surface, waiting to see if I just haven’t pushed hard enough yet. Making me want to push just a little more.
Making me cruel. Making me the abuser.
Making me into all of those things that I so hated when they were done to me.
Making me repeat the pattern – only this time, I’m the offender.
Instead of being open to being loved and loving in return, I retreated into fear. Into patterns that are seemingly impossible to break. And in so doing, I’ve made myself into one of the monsters that terrified me.
But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe the realization can point us down the path toward forgiveness. To forgive our abusers – not absolve them, forgive ourselves for enduring it, and forgive ourselves for becoming it. Maybe knowing this, knowing that in the absence of abuse, recognizing this can start to help us heal.
I’m tired of being afraid. I’m tired of believing that love always comes with painful side effects. I’m tired of doing to someone else, someone who doesn’t at all deserve to suffer for someone else’s sins, what was done to me.
Today I commit to breaking this goddamn pattern once and for all.