I have been single more or less for two years today. The actual date is a bit ambiguous but officially i was moved into my tiny apartment and living alone. Two years ago I was a broken shell of a person. I could not stand being in my own skin. I would look in the mirror and see a person I did not recognize. A person I hated. I felt like the foulest, most disgusting thing on the planet.
I misplaced my rose colored glasses.
I think back to the true horror my life was then. I think about the last time I saw my grandfather alive and well, holding a letter in his hands. I do not remember if we hugged goodbye. I have pushed that guilt deep inside me, ashamed and saddened.
I remember putting my Stevie in the car, the back seat packed full, my sweet little kitty on top of everything, mewing at me through the window. I looked around me, attempting in vain to make sense of it all or even just a piece of it. I knew that day was the end something. I locked that door. I had every intention of going back to clean and to get my washer and dryer but I couldn’t make myself. I was incredibly exhausted mentally and physically; spiritually I was dead and I knew I had disappointed all of those around me.
A few days into my single and solo living I realized how quiet it was. Not just quiet, but calm and I liked it. I liked it a lot. It was the first time in many years I did not have the compulsive and never ending thoughts of “Where is S? What is he doing? How drunk is he? What and who am I going to come home to?”
I knew within those first days things were over between us, even though he had promised over and over again that it wasn’t and that he loved me and still wanted to be with me. He played this part well. A month later I saw him and told him it was over. He Said he didn’t want it to be…even though he was loving someone else and moved away from me.
The cognitive dissonance ran deeply. I got to a point where I was pretty certain this person I had loved and sacrificed for years for was not real. The life I was living was a different world, so unrecognizable to my current state that I could not believe it happened. I remember I went to lunch with my best friend. I arrived first and sat in the booth waiting. When he sat down, with all sincerity I said, “I need to ask you a serious question.” I asked, “Is S a real person? Did everything really happen? Or have I been living in a hallucination that other people went along with?”
He took it well. This is a hallmark of true friendship. I was assured that indeed all of it was real. I believed him, mostly. It didn’t help that S used to actually tell me he wasn’t real. He said that he was my Tyler Durden. He would say, “What if you made me up to indulge in your bad side?” I told him that was silly the first few times but then the idea started to make sense. The longer I walked down the road of his psychopathy the more I believed that idea, or at least that I kept him around for my self indulgence and anarchic tendencies. He was that anti establishment part of me. The one that would not settle or conform. I liked it. I craved it.
My only addiction I have ever had was him. It was always him. And just like any addiction I had to detox and go through treatment. I had to learn to live without my drug.
I am still learning but somehow hitting the two year mark has given me new perspective. There should be chips for those of us that survive abusive and toxic relationships. Hell, there should be a god damn party for all of us. We will all get crowns and a pony.
The hardest part of recovery is the loneliness, guilt and shame. I know I am not alone when I say it is humiliating to admit that you were used, abused, lied to, cheated on and stolen from the person you loved most in the world. And the crazy thing is that everyone around you is telling you the other party is the asshole and that you did nothing wrong. But after living in a world so warped that you took responsibility for EVERYTHING, it’s quite difficult to let that consistency go. Even though that routine was self destructive and poison, you can not shake this feeling of still wanting it. Its confusing and embarrassing and you blame yourself for loving this person and staying with them for so long.
On the outside looking in at another’s life we can much easier judge. We say “I would NEVER do that or allow this…” and so on. But the truth is that you can never really know how difficult leaving an abusive relationship is unless you have experienced it yourself. It is also an experience I would never wish upon anyone else. It is too terrible and soul crushing for even the worst of my enemies.
As I write this I consider where I am at. I am about to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree. I have met so many good people in this last two years. I made new friends and worked interesting jobs. I had the opportunity to volunteer and to witness those so much worse off then I could imagine. I stand up straighter. I stand with confidence and pride, so much so that a family member recently commented on it. I have seen incredible beauty and gone on road trips and adventures. I have also experienced one of my greatest heartaches in the passing of my grandfather, something that still breaks my heart on a daily basis. But I have also lived to see my first nephew born who turns one this month.
Life and death.
I could not see all this two years ago. I could barely see an hour into my future. I would think, “Am I going to lose it today? Is this the end?”
I look back at those dark days sad but not destroyed. I am glad to be alive in this moment and in this time. I have to say that you can and will endure those dark moments. The days when you want to forget or even to die will pass. You will surely see the sun once again. You will find joy in different and simple things. And you will feel, oh yes you will feel incredible and beautiful moments much deeper because you have felt such pain and despair.
Hang in there; until morning, until noon, next week or next year. Sometimes you can only hold out for your next breath, but please keep breathing. Your life is worth so much more than you can imagine and the pain you feel just one stroke of the brush. You are a masterpiece in the making. Let yourself become.
In love and solidarity,