April 24, Toronto, Canada - Many of you who have kept up with my blogs know that I have been very fortunate to have many women and men share with me some very personal stories of success, survival, and terror in regards to violence, both random and in relationships. I have had so many people message me privately to offer thanks for these blogs, but I have just been the messenger for these people who have been strong enough to share their most intimate of thoughts in hopes of helping others. Once again, I have had a woman who prefers to remain anonymous, send this to me. It is another story that needs to be shared because it illustrates how things are not just black and white when it comes to making some very difficult decisions. Please read, share, comment, and discuss with your family, friends, and complete strangers.
It was a long chapter, 20 years or so of much confusion. I worked through trusting, or learning to trust gaining a band of brothers in my gym through the self defence training, the successes, and the tough sessions, all of them always 100% behind me and being a part of a team that learned and grew from each other, as martial artists and as human beings.
It enabled me to feel safe, decipher anxiety from fear and lead a normal life again, a better than average life at that!
Then I met him, maybe the love of my life if you believe in that kind of thing. It was instant, and it was powerful. The fact that he had been through his own stress and violence and seemed at a peaceful place, made me feel we were in the same place, a place of peace and acceptance, ready to live together in relative peace and harmony, with someone who could understand.
I seemed more recovered than he, and I wanted to help, I wanted to fix it for him, make it better. I wanted to help him fix it for himself, give him shelter and space to breathe. He seemed thankful and appreciative.
He drank too much sometimes. I could understand why. I had felt deep pain, hadn't resorted to alcohol, but sugar in the past, but I got it.
He seemed like a victim of circumstance, he just needed that help, that stepping stone and surely he would spring forward into the light ?
He drank more, he let me down, he would lie about it, he would apologize in the most heartfelt and lost way, I believed the apologies as sincere. I think he did too.
We would repeat the process hoping for a better outcome...
I became his mother, I made decisions around fear and negativity. He became resentful.
I am not sure when it exactly happened, but after almost 2 years of a relationship that was glorious 95% of the time, and terrible 5% I had come to accept it, as normal.
Then for the first time, I felt abused. It was verbal. I was doing great kicking the sugar and working through PTSD despite the disruptions. As I got stronger, we got weaker.
When he was drunk he would say and accuse me of terrible things, it seemed he was trying to illicit a reaction. He would upset me as much as possible and then try to hug or kiss me.. for a survivor this is very muddled territory and he knew it. He wanted to feel pain, by his own post confession, and he was quite prepared to use me to get what he needed in that regard, no matter how much psychological torment that meant for me in the moment. He hoped I would lash out, be violent so he could justify a release. Wow. All that time I was trying to fix him, and I was being played/abused. I was so cornered on occasion that I did lash out. He would demand an apology, but I never did, and always felt comfortable in my actions as self defence. He never broke that. I knew that the situations that were that extreme had no place in a loving relationship, but gave him chances due to his circumstances. As I got stronger and reacted less, the push got stronger, and on the night before I asked him to move out, he was pretending to punch me in slow motion, like a game. He never hit me, but it was awful. He tried to squash me into a seat and I pushed him off with all my force ( and hurt a finger) I slept in my son's room. He apologised, once he had calmed down. It transpired that he had been drinking heavily, including half a bottle of vodka in ten minutes, to enter oblivion, and he did indeed black out.
When I asked him the next day if he felt in control, he answered 'ish... which quite frankly is of no solace. He has been devastated since, as have I. I still love him. The pain in that finger when I exercise has been a great reminder of the tip of the iceberg.
I understand why people stay in relationships that are volatile. It is complicated.
Safety however is not. Abuse is abuse no matter what the motivation, and as I watch Oscar Prestorious on TV cry and speak of his girlfriend that he murdered, I don't doubt that he loved her. I also don't doubt that he killed her, as he was out of control. A cautionary tale, of where do you see your relationship ending, take fights with your partner seriously, and draw some lines. Don't make excuses for them, or do, but never compromise your safety. Letting go is hard, and loving someone from a distance may be heartbreaking for a while, but dysfunction can be deadly. I don't hate or blame, I get pain. I also get safety, and nothing is as glorious as peace of mind.
SAFE International is a mobile self defense company offering women's self defense parties, high school self defense, corporate safety training, and private instruction. Please visit our website at www.safeinternational.biz for more information.