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A Change is Gonna Come

It’s weirdly liberating and disappointing to find out I’m just like everyone else. I thought all my problems were some quirky, interesting character attribute. But, in reality they are a product of my abuse. I thought I was different.

 

I didn’t think there was a reason I kept dating abusive men. I thought I was just dating whoever asked. But, even if that were true, why were these abusers attracted to me?

 

Maybe they could somehow see that I was underwater too. Did they recognize it in me? I don’t know. But I do know that I am getting dry. I know because people are interacting differently with me. I am having conversations and experiences that are so surprising and positive.

 

I’m seeing people that aren’t underwater. I’m creating positive neural pathways with these experiences. I’m recognizing the attributes I want in a future partner. These are all good things.

 

Also:

 

I AM A POTENTIALLY NORMAL PERSON!!

 

Meaning, I have hope of being happy and well-adjusted if there is nothing inherently wrong with me.  I am capable of having successful, positive relationships. Just knowing that I am not a broken toy feels awesome. I might be slightly used and damaged from my past. But I am still capable of working perfectly. That’s good.

 

I am going to continue to get better. I am going to continue to do better. I am going to continue to have positive, healthy experiences with people, men in particular. They are going to respond with positivity and acceptance more and more until some wonderful thing happens:


I start trusting and connecting with people.

Underwater

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I think about my mother a lot. I try to imagine her childhood. I try to understand the way her entire life stacked up on her to make her the person that she is.

I feel sorry for her. I can even see where she was coming from sometimes. I can understand the sad logic in some of her choices.

But I just don’t think I can forgive her. I have been in enough abusive relationships to know how hard it can be to leave them. And I imagine having children makes it even harder.

I will never have children. I will never have to make that choice. But I know this; a man abusing me is one thing, a man abusing a child is quite another.

I don’t know why she stayed with my father. But then again, I do. She grew up in a household with a violent, abusive father and an emotionally abusive, manipulative mother. Just like me.

I used to fear ending up like her. But I am ending that cycle. I won’t risk doing to someone else what happened to me. I won’t abuse a child. My life history will not repeat itself.

And I have dated enough abusive men to know it would have ended that way for me. But I am not doing that any more either. I would rather spend the rest of my life alone than spend one day with another abusive or manipulative partner.

The funny thing is that my mother did eventually leave my father. When I was 20. Long after it could have made any difference for any of her children.

I’ll never understand why she waited so long. It all just feels so senseless.

My mother is remarried now. I wish I could say to a better man than my father. But he isn’t. In fact, he reminds me so much of her father. I guess she will never be done repaying whatever it is she thinks she owes in her life.

But maybe my real point is that she can’t help it. When all you know is abuse, it’s hard to realize there are other options. Sometimes I wonder if it doesn’t provide some sort of cold comfort.

Maybe sometimes, some abused people become so acclimated to it. Like fish living deep in the ocean depths. They have learned to survive under so much intense pressure that they become dependent on it. They can no longer live without it. They literally die if you take that pressure off them.

But I don’t want to be a fish anymore. And I don’t want to be underwater. I have long called being abused being underwater. It’s from a short story that I have always loved. And I don’t know the name of it. It’s not Breathing Underwater which is a fantastic YA novel.

This is a short story about a girl that is underwater in her house and one day she comes home and her sister is underwater too. And they are kind of swimming around in it. And then she moves out and never finds someone that is quite right for her until she meets a boy that is underwater too. Does anyone know this short story? I’d love to read it again.

Love

It’s possible that I grew up equating love and abuse so much that they are permanently linked in my mind. My parents never said they loved me, but I did always assume they did. Maybe I think that if someone loves me it means they are going to abuse me.

So far in my life that is exactly what it meant.

But I have also been realizing that if someone was abusive to me before they ever used the word love, I recognized it as a red flag and dumped them. Immediately.

But once someone said they loved me, even though I didn’t love any of them, it seemed to be okay with me that they were abusive.Why did I stay with those men for so long? Their “love” didn’t obligate me to stay with them. It certainly didn’t give them permission. But I have done it over and over again.

Today RA and I had a big talk about that. He says that I am subconsciously attracted to it because it is familiar to me from my childhood. He said, “If you took a lineup of 5 men and three of those men were abusive (notice how he made it more than 50%?) you would choose an abuser every time.”

I feel like I will never forget him saying that to me. I can already feel it tattooed on my mind. Like the story about the girl being underwater and picking a boy who was also because it was all she knew.

It is so sad and tragic that I have done it without even being conscious of it. And that other people are doing it too. And now I always have to be on guard for it. I wonder how many times I do this before I stop trusting my own judgement and just give up on ever being in a relationship. I already feel like I am so close to being there.