Finding Life Again

It certainly has been a while. Hi there, folks! My apologies for the extended absence from, well, everything.  I’d like to explain a bit, in hopes that maybe my sharing this might help someone else. A warning – this does deal with emotional abuse.

First off, the Hus-bot and I are polyamorous. We have been for almost five years now. We have both had several “other” partners over the course of those years. It’s a nice arrangement as we are both kind of wired to love multiple people, and I tend to be far more kink-inclined than the Hus-bot is. From the summer of 2017 until last November, I was in what I thought was a fairly serious relationship with another man – and he nearly destroyed me.

Looking back, of course I can see every single bright red flag. If I’m being honest, I saw a number of them during that relationship. I chose not to ignore them, but to see them as obstacles to be overcome. I wholeheartedly believed they could be solved, could be fixed. The more I tried to do that, the more of myself I lost. I gave until I had nothing left, and then gave a little more, getting painfully little in return. My gut kept telling me to run, but I didn’t listen.

I should have.

Did he ever physically harm me? No. The mental and emotional wounds, however, run deep. Little by little, my struggle with him stripped away parts of my life, my personality and my passions. In an attempt to help him understand me, I went so far as to dredge up and face memories from my past that I’d much rather have just forgotten. I dredged up old traumas, sharing them with him in the hopes it would improve things. If anything, it made things worse. In the fall of 2017, between an enormous project load at work and my relationship with him, I faced suicidal thoughts for the first time in well over a decade.

I blamed work.

I should have blamed him.

Yes, work was a major source of stress at the time, but that is usually balanced by certain outlets I have in the fall. In my personal life, my needs had gone completely neglected for quite some time at that point. There was always some reason or another why I couldn’t have even the smallest thing from him. Looking back, I can see that he was simply refusing to make time for me and anything I needed from him while demanding I give him anything and everything he needed from me.

I should have blamed him.

I would try to talk to him about what was going on with me, what I was dealing with. I would try to tell him how I was feeling. At best, he would shut me down by dominating the conversation with what was going on with him or by bringing up his past trauma (which I suspect may not have even been true). At worst, he would yell and scream and accuse me of demanding all of his time and attention 24/7 and tell me essentially what a horrible person I was for bringing up anything I was struggling with at “such a bad time”.

I tried to end the relationship a couple different times. He would start crying and saying how much he would miss me, how sorry he was that he ruined things, how much of a “fuck-up” he was. I would cave, and somehow in the process of agreeing to continue the relationship, I would always give up more of myself. I constantly felt like if I could be “good enough”, things would get better. If I could be “good enough”, I’d get what I needed from him. I felt like an utter failure. Good enough didn’t exist.

I blamed work. I blamed myself.

I should have blamed him.

It got to the point where I was having full blown panic attacks almost daily. Sometimes more than one. I couldn’t sleep. I had no appetite. I was pretty much miserable 24/7. At one point, I did manage to insist on cutting contact for a few days and I was able to follow through. In that time, I was able to escape into my writing. That escape, however, was short lived. As soon as we were in contact again, I couldn’t think. I couldn’t focus. I lived in a constant state of fear.

Fast forward to the fall of 2018. His responses to me began to dwindle. A day here and there at first, then maybe two in a row, then a week at a time with absolutely nothing. It didn’t matter what I sent him, it didn’t matter how I contacted him. I’d hear nothing. When I would hear from him finally, it was nothing but half hearted excuses. That’s when my mind began to clear. I began to see what was really going on and began calling him on his bullshit hardcore.

I still couldn’t bring myself to end things.

I blamed myself. I should have blamed him.

On October 29th, 2018, the last thing I heard from him was that there was something major going on in his life that was going to have a long term impact and that on our scheduled call in a couple of days, he would fill me in.

Then nothing. For almost two months, I tried to get a response from him. His vanishing tore me apart, and from everything I dealt with over the course of that relationship, I couldn’t reach out to anyone, not even my Hus-bot. I was so terrified of telling anyone how I felt or what I was dealing with that even thinking about it nearly sent me into a panic attack. Despite officially cutting the cord myself on December 31st, the effect he had on me lingered.

I cut myself off from almost everything and everyone. I turned my back on the lifestyle I’ve been a part of since I was 18. I couldn’t even think about that anymore. As far as I was concerned, I had completely lost that part of myself, for good. With that, I also lost my will to write. I would stare at the pages and completely freeze. I would try to start something new, just to get the juices going again, and I had nothing. My well had run dry. I found myself intensely jealous of both the characters in my work and in books that I would read. Jealous of the understanding, support and compassion they received from their love interests.

In that time, I buried myself in a new project – starting my own business. At least that kept me from thinking about my neglected manuscript, website, and social media. Not the worst way to try to escape, I suppose, as it is something I’d wanted to do for a long time. Having that dream to focus on did give me back parts of myself. It showed me I was still a valued member of a team, and that I had amazing people who love and support me. Still, I wish it hadn’t been done in an attempt to forget something else so important to me.

It was months before I could even think about looking at my writing again. I was dreading faire season, something I’ve never done, because I knew there was a chance he’d be there. Despite the fact that I felt stronger and more confident than I had in a while, I still wasn’t sure it would be enough to face seeing him again. What I didn’t know was that I would find a trusted confidant – and so much more –  in someone who also came into my life via faire in 2017.

That someone would say I understand, and truly mean it on a level no one else can.

That someone would make me feel safe again.

I didn’t know I’d finally be able to open up about what had happened. That I would finally be able to cry, to let out everything I’d been holding in since October. Someone who has known a hell that, in my opinion, is far worse than anything I’ve ever been through, was able to give me back my voice, simply by acknowledging my traumas as such. When everything would come pouring out, he wouldn’t try to stop it. He would just hold me and let it flow.

Some people will say I should have been able to do it on my own, that I shouldn’t have needed someone else. They can go shove it. When I had completely lost my faith in people, when I had cut myself off from everything except on the most superficial levels, he saw through my walls. Around him, they vanished and I was finally able to truly start healing simply by talking about what had happened. I am forever grateful to him for this, in ways I do not have the words to express. Maybe one day, I will.

Sometimes, when we are drowning in the depths of our own minds, the right person can help pull us from it and there is nothing wrong with needing someone like that. Being unable to pull yourself out on your own isn’t weakness. Needing someone isn’t weakness.

Mental and emotional abuse and neglect are horrible things. They can do just as much, if not more, damage than physical abuse. Sadly, with the damage being invisible to the naked eye, it is often much more difficult for the victims of these things to speak up about them. It can be easier for the signs to be overlooked, especially by those experiencing the abuse and harder for the damage to be acknowledged.

I’m still fighting to work through everything. I know that will probably go on for a while, and that’s ok. There isn’t some set time table for me to “get over it”. But I can see the improvement already. Little by little, day by day, my fear lessens. My ability to have faith in someone else grows. I find a little more of myself. There are bumps, there are triggers, there are fears that are still incredibly powerful. That’s ok – I’ll get past those, too. And if I need someone there with me while I do, that’s alright too.