Do you know the story of the frog in the pot of water? If we put a frog in cold water and the heat gradually increases, the frog does not realize that it is in danger until the water reaches a boil, then it is too late for the frog.
I was the frog in cold water, with the water slowly heating up.
I was lucky. I managed to get out of it before it hit boiling point.
Abuse is not always physical and not always obvious. Emotional abuse leaves scars that are silent and hidden.
Because of my experience with verbal and emotional abuse, I felt worthless and hopeless. My already low self-esteem declined even more. I spent most of my days wondering what I had done wrong. I stepped on eggshells, to try to avoid tension and conflict. I tried to make sense of my relationship. I tried to fix myself. I put on a mask to navigate the outside world.
I have withdrawn into myself to avoid seeing my reality. I felt disconnected. I no longer knew who I really was.
I didn’t have black eyes, broken bones, or bruises, but I was injured inside. Most of the damage comes down to the loss of all sense of self.
The wounds turned into scars. Sometimes the scars still bleed.
They remind me of everything I have learned since leaving.
To put me back in the center and have confidence in myself.
I am healing.
I have not only experienced years of domestic violence, but I have experienced certain situations since I was born that have made it possible for me to remain in such a toxic relationship for so many years. I thought I was not worthy of love and respect.
My relationship didn’t start with insults.
If he had, I don’t think I would have dated him.
He whispered sweet words to me, I felt cherished and secure. He gave me confidence.
I loved it. We laughed a lot together; I felt comfortable and secure with him.
I wasn’t listening to the quiet voices in my head – the sick butterflies in my body that were shaking and trying to make me aware.
I swore if someone hit me, I would leave.
Except he never really did.
Pushing someone is not hitting.
Besides, I pushed him away.
The abuse crept in slowly and stealthily.
It was subtle.
I was in an abusive relationship and didn’t know it.
I was unaware of the depth of the trauma and the damage months and even years after I left.
My reasoning was:
“I wasn’t abused, because I wasn’t hit. ”
My feelings were denied and minimized.
I was told it was all my fault.
I was told that I did not deserve affection and that I had to earn it.
I was told that I did nothing all day.
I was told I was responsible for destroying our relationship.
I was told I was useless. I was told I was useless. I was told I was useless.
Again and again and again and again.
And I stayed.
I believed him. I believed his version of the truth.
I stopped fighting.
I stopped pushing him away.
I stopped insulting him.
I have become numb from my experience.
Numb to stop the anxiety, hopelessness, and frustration I was feeling.
Depression was my protection.
There were days when my body collapsed on getting out of bed. The physical pain in my feet and legs prevented me from walking. To support me. To face the day ahead.
I didn’t trust myself and my inner voice. I stopped listening to the whispers.
I succumbed to what I thought I deserved.
I thought this was how I would live my life forever.
I had no intention of leaving this relationship. In the months leading up to my departure, my thinking had slowly started to change. There were moments of clarity. Moments of questioning.
I confided in a few trustworthy people near me. I revealed to them the reality of my relationship. Expressing my reality has allowed me to see my relationship more clearly.
I contacted a women’s shelter for advice. I thought, “I’m not one of those women who get hit. ”
These two women were sitting and listening to me. They told me about what a domestic violence relationship is. I opened my eyes, even more, that day. My thinking changed again.
The facade was starting to crack.
I was using my voice and I was heard.
My new life started when I left my relationship. When I finally realized that I was living with a man who – still to this day – believes he has the right to exercise power and control over me.
Most of the time I live with my truth. I live with the knowledge of my own power and my freedom.
It took all the strength and courage to look at myself and see the role I played. And I played a role. My low self-esteem, my lack of self-esteem, my belief that I didn’t deserve more than I got. It took honesty and genuineness to face me. To bring my healing back to me. To change me. Love me.
I am proud of my evolution in the years since I left my relationship. I am able to recognize when I am a victim.
I am my own witness.
I have owned and taken responsibility for what is in my consciousness.
I learned to set limits.
I’ve learned that I can’t always control what happens to me, but I control my reaction.
I recognize my darkness and my light.
I discovered my worth.
I recognize my worth.
I am compassionate with myself.
I allow myself to be wrong.
I forgive myself for the times when I misunderstood.
I am learning to trust my truth, my inner voice, my intuition.
I honor my feelings.
I continue my healing journey.
Most of all, I keep learning to love myself, including my shadows.
I’m lucky. I did not become a frog in boiling water. I went out.
Many women are not so lucky.
I hope that by sharing my experience, I will give another woman the courage to trust her inner voice.
To wonder if she is living her reality or that of another person.
To find the freedom to be happy and live without knots in your stomach every morning.
To find his voice and share his experiences.
The clarity to see that abuse does not always involve physical violence.
The right to live a life free from abuse in any form.
I want you to know that you deserve to live your life without fear and without confusion. You deserve respect, love, and kindness.
Your voice matters. Your feelings matter. You count.