I’ve decided to write this post about how time heals. I can honestly say, with a flood of relief, that I no longer miss him. Every time I feel that stab of loneliness, that familiar wave of anxiety, those annoying whispers in the back of my mind that tell me I’m better off with an abuser rather than spending every night alone, I find myself reminding myself almost reflexively that it is not him I miss, but having someone.
I’ve been on a brief hiatus from this blog because of some drama DVP (Domestic Violence Perpetrator, a.k.a. my abuser) was causing. It has been two months now, and I’m ready to dive back in head first in the deep end of my very deep pool of experiences, grief, and emotions in hopes I can help others cope with theirs. I have to say, though, that the deep end is slowly becoming more shallow!
I bet you are asking, “What was the drama about?” DVP somehow found out about my blog. I thought I had deleted everyone on Facebook that was connected to him, but after closer review, I found that I was still friends with a few of his friends and even some of his relatives. I’m still unsure who told him, but the fact is, he read it and decided to comment on my posts. He’s probably reading this right now, but it doesn’t worry me. My intent is not to bash him, though it may seem like it. I truly mean it when I say my intent is to help other victims. It is this reason that I have not used any names and locations. He was foolish enough to post with his name, and claim in his comments that he was the DVP.
I was going to let the comment go, but after it turned into three, hurtful comments followed by a nasty threat text message to my father, I had to report his repetitive violations of the protective order to the police. I knew that it would be best to lay low after that, and I’m glad I did. I was able to focus a lot on healing and becoming happy again, and I’m on my way to making a full recovery.
One piece of advice that always annoyed me after a break up is what I’m about to tell you now: time heals all wounds. We’ve all heard it. It annoyed me because it felt like a cheap “go-to” piece of advice people use when they don’t know what to say or don’t care enough to offer sympathy. Regardless, I am going to say it to you, because (dare I admit it) it is absolutely true. Truthfully, part of it is owed to the anti-depressant I am taking, but looking back on the last two months, I can see a huge difference.
Leaving an abuser is one of the most difficult break-ups a person can go through. Breaking up with any companion is hard in itself. It’s like a part of you died. All the memories, feelings, experiences, etc. suddenly come to an end. All the time you invested in and with that person now doesn’t matter because it becomes too painful to think about and you know you won’t be spending any more time with him. Someone you saw and spoke to everyday is gone. As far as you’re concerned, it’s like you are dead to him, and him to you. You may lose mutual friends and people in his family you’ve grown to consider your own. You lose part of your possessions. Your children are confused about why they have to split time between the two of you, and are just as heartbroken as you, if not more. You have to spend thousands of dollars on lawyers and fees. You have to move out, get a new bank account. The list could go on.
As if all of this isn’t enough to swallow, there’s a whole other side to leaving an abuser. You are left with a lot more emotional, physical, spiritual, and even financial damage than the average breakup. You are left with feelings of self-doubt. Are you at fault for the abuse? Could you have done more to fix your relationship, to fix him? Is leaving him really the best thing for you? What will my family and friends think when they find out the truth? Am I broken?
You are left with physical scars and marks. How many times did he choke, slap, hit, pull your hair, smack, leave bruises, break bones, leave black eyes, or push you down or against a wall? You probably can’t even keep track anymore. How many times did he call you names, tell you to kill yourself, threaten to kill you, threaten your kids, harm your kids, threaten to take them from you, tell you that you are worthless, tell you that you are nothing without him, tell you what to think, isolate you from friends and family, and so much more?
You are left with court dates not only for a divorce (for my married victims), but for a protective order and the countless domestic violence and other related charges. You have to listen to people pick apart your personal relationship and relive horrible experiences nobody should ever have to experience to begin with. Worse, you have to hear him lie through his teeth to a judge. You get to hear his lawyer twist every abusive situation into being your fault or not as bad as it really was.
When you realize you must go through with leaving him no matter how hard it is, you will eventually go through all of this. It’s overwhelming, and it plain sucks! It’s unfair. Haven’t you suffered enough? I’m here to reiterate that time does heal all of that suck.
I have been seeing two counselors. I took a group class on domestic violence. I am on an anti-depressant. I meditate, listen and watch motivational videos, read motivational books, use a diffuser, run way too much, lift weights, binge-watch Netflix, surround myself with family and friends that love me, spent quality time with my daughter, focused on college classes, experienced the true meaning of retail therapy, and have immersed myself with my religion.
All of those things and more really helped me get through each day, but at the end of the day (and often random times during the day), I would still feel like it wasn’t worth living another day. I’d feel like it would be better to be miserable with my abuser than to experience this type of pain. I felt like I had no friends, that no one understood what I was going through. I misinterpreted everything people said or didn’t say to me. I felt like people were going out of their way to ignore me. I felt like no one cared. I felt embarrassed about my situation. I felt ashamed.
I’ve been out of my abusive relationship for nine months now. My divorce still isn’t final, but I’m patient. I know that it was the best thing I could have done for myself and my daughter. It has been two months since my last post about how much I struggled to not call him. Time has passed. Each day, though I struggled, I grew stronger. Did I realize it at the time? Definitely not. I learned about my self worth through counseling, reflection, spending time with myself, serving others, making new friendships, becoming self-reliant, and most importantly, discovering my new-found freedom. Admit it, you didn’t (don’t) have freedom in that abusive relationship. Did all of it happen over night? Did I wake up one day and pick which aspect of my life I was going to work on? Not really. I knew that I couldn’t return to abuse, so I pushed forward. I lived one day at a time. Before I knew it, nine months had passed, and I can see the significant amount of change in myself, and others have noticed too.
If it’s been nine months for you, or longer, and you don’t feel like you are at this point, that is perfectly okay. Everyone has their own timeline. The most important thing is to not give up, and please do not return to your abuser! I promise it gets easier. One day I realized that I could think about him and not feel hurt. I mainly feel anger, but even that is passing. I read one of the comments he left on my blog, which used to make me cry and long for him, and now I can read it and laugh at how absurd it is. I can look at his profile picture (which is all I can see of his Facebook since I blocked him) and not wish I could see him in person. I can drive by our old apartment and not care that we used to live there. I used to avoid that place, and now it’s just part of my past life. When I see his features in my daughter, it used to eat me up. Now, it doesn’t bother me. She is beautiful. She looks a lot like me too, and without him, she wouldn’t be here.
Eventually, my divorce will be final, and I’ll be able to date again. Once that happens, I feel like I won’t put as much thought into my abuser any more. I’ll be in a healthy, wonderful relationship that I always deserved, but didn’t have. However, I don’t need a new relationship to feel better either. I am learning to love myself and my daughter, regardless of having a companion.
Time will pass regardless. Make it count. Try to find happiness, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t find it. You’ll have good days and bad days. You will go back and forth on your decisions regarding your abuser. Just remember that before you know it, you’ll be able to look at your life as it is now and compare it to how it was with your abuser and see how far you’ve come. In a year from now, I’ll be able to see more progress. I promise, things will get better. Hang in there.