It starts with the small things.
It starts with the comments about your habits, your way of doing things, how you talk, and how you move. In the beginning you feel comfortable because your partner, friend, lover cares about you to discuss these habits and ways of doing things with you. You feel noticed, appreciated, seen.
Time passes and you get used to it, and after a while these little comments, become criticisms, and as time progresses even further they become outright mean, hurtful and deliberate verbal punches.
And you justify them. You feel as if it’s love, care, understanding, attention. (above all attention). Cause if he/she didn’t care he/she wouldn’t ignore you. And as Anne Lamott says in her TED talk about her 12 truths about life and writing,
Caring is the other side of control.
But you get used to it, you think this is love, this is caring this is what relationships, friendships, partnerships are supposed to be. Until one day you wake up and you have completely lost yourself in them. They hold the key to every move you make, they have brick by brick stolen your self esteem, your confidence and your ability to believe that you can live with out them. Slowly they have convinced you that you are with out them, useless, weak and afraid, and you believe them. Only they can understand you, and their friendship, love and care is the ultimate and best thing you will ever have.
If you decide to reject their abusive words and actions, you are ungrateful, crazy, you lost your shit, you are imbalanced and certifiably nuts. You are not worthy, you can’t deal, you don’t understand, you’re feelings are irrational, biased and untrue. You will never find anyone like them, only they can deal with your crazy ass, if they left you would be like a lost puppy, you are a selfish, stupid little person.
And that seed of doubt planted right from the beginning; has taken over your whole being. This toxic weed of self doubt, self loathing, self deprecation, is slowly poisoning you. Your kingdom has a new leader and it’s not you. Slowly your foundation has been chipped away and you can’t even stand on your own two feet. But luckily for you, your abuser is there to pick you up, tell you they and only they love you because that’s what real friends, lovers, partners are for.
When the light bulb goes off.
You wake up, one day after having heard it all, and even though you feel wobbly on your feet, you take a step and then another and you rebuild, you begin to listen to your own true voice again, you begin to realize that you’re not a piece of shit, you’re not crazy, you’re not useless without them, you deserve love, affection, care, communication, attention and companionship. And just when they aren’t looking, you jump off the speeding train to no where. You will stumble, you will fall many times, you will feel unsure of the direction you’re taking, but every time you fall, that voice telling you you’re useless without them won’t be there. So you get up and you keep going.
You start to trust your voice again.
From a whisper, it becomes a steady vibrant, beautiful voice. Like any living being, when the abuse stops scars remain, but with love, care, trust and acceptance, your scars are only a reminder of how far you have come.