Five years ago I drew the line in front of an abusive relationship to a man called U. A CFA financial analyst currently living in London.
In the beginning I made excuses blaming it on the stress of his job but I know now I was only lying to myself. I refused to believe what was right in front of my eyes because I was scared. Because I didn’t want it to be true. But then I found his divorce document and the reason given by his ex-wife was physical abuse.
The thing with abusive people is that they don’t change.
As our relationship play out, I began to see irrational patterns in his abuse. One moment he was admiring me and the next devaluing me. No matter how educated he was or how much money he made, he was terribly insecure. His arguments made less and less sense. He was losing it. He lost it. Or may be he had no idea what he was losing because in those moments his eyes would go completely black and he would disappear. And when he came to, he denied it happened.
For anyone unfamiliar with narcissistic personality disorder, it can be very tricky to decipher. One tell tale sign is the use of gaslighting by the narcissist. Once they isolate their victim from the people they love, they begin to undermine their victim’s belief in what is true and what is not. What they are doing is trying to create is the trauma bond which results in intense confusion, with the aim of keeping the victim disarmed.
For me it was all over when the escalation of his abuse nearly killed me. It got to the point where he could no longer control his disorder nor his anger. A part of me felt that he knew that I knew who he really was and therefore he saw no reason to hide it. The verbal and physical abuse became constant.
On the surface, U was charming. He knew how to play the game until you knew him long enough to see that the things he said didn’t add up.
Looking back now I realise that he was never interested in my dreams or who I was. All he was interested in was getting to know my strengths and weaknesses so that he could manipulate them for this own gain. He was imprisoned in a desperate need for control and self-gratification that never came.
I was “always” and “never” doing something to incite his suspicion or jealousy or anger. And he repeatedly replaced my feelings and thoughts with his assumptions and was convinced he knew me better than I knew myself.
He couldn’t control himself so he control me – what I wore, in what direction faced when having dinner with him at a restaurant, and how I behaved. The emotional abuse then started to happen often enough that I began to pre-empt how he would feel in any situation to do everything to avoid it.
What’s more, he felt that he was entitled to a different set of rules than he laid out for me.
And then one afternoon in London he grabbed me by the throat and viciously attacked me.
The reason? I didn’t have a napkin in my bag when he asked for one. Because, in his own words, ‘ All normal women have napkins in their bags.’
He left me grateful that there was no internal bleeding, that I hadn’t suffered a concussion after being kicked by him and hitting my head on the concrete floor. That I wasn’t paralyzed or that my face hadn’t been cut up from nearly smashing into a mirror.
The attack left me in immense pain. Dear reader, you can only imagine. I was unable to walk and my back and arms were bruised yellow and blue. I was in complete shock and he ignored me.
On the day I left, he followed me to Shadwell Station. On the platform, he cried and told me that he was sorry. From his eyes and incoherent speech, I could see that he was mentally unwell. This – for the first time – was clear to me.
I stood away from him, detached and said nothing. I could think only of the pain that was shooting through me like fireworks.
The moment the metro doors closed, I felt a sense of relief.
That part of my life was done.
Alone in my room, I started to feel the extent of my trauma. In the darkness, I moved between deep waves of anxiety, grief, and nothingness but the intense burning sensation of the bruising made it difficult to think.
I felt confused and disoriented but also safe and very, very, lucky.
The Wisdom Gained
The wisdom gained from this whole traumatic experience was knowing what love is not. Love is not caring for someone unconditionally at the expense of yourself. Love is not believing in someone unconditionally because you believe they have the strength to see what is right and change. Love is not saving others from themselves. Love does not hurt.
Discovering I Wasn’t Alone
Initially I felt that I was the only witness to the reality that I had been living. Abuse is very difficult to prove because we tend to believe what we can see. But about a year after I left him a women, and then another, reached out to me. And in a way I had been secretly waiting for them. They are the reason why I had started this blog. A lighthouse for anyone who found themselves in my footsteps.
Because an abuser doesn’t change.
I knew that we would use my name to gain sympathy from his next victim and that would be their key. Two women came forward and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to hear their story.
The Book: Attempting the Impossible
I then wrote a book about my experience and dedicated it to all the women that had stepped forward and to those that may come after. In celebration of my own milestone of not only having survived this but also finding myself thriving in ways I never thought possible before, I am releasing this book into the wild in the hopes that it can shed some light in the darkness for those who may need it. You can download it here.
A Commitment to Transformation
You can’t change others. You can only change yourself.
The gift of what I considered to be hitting rock bottom is clarity. I knew exactly what I didn’t want. And I began the process of transforming my own life by moving in the direction of my fears and not away from them. And by doing this I discovered that I was so much more than I was holding on to. That I had everything I needed right then to begin rebuilding m life on a more solid foundation. All I needed as the courage to align myself to my deepest values.
Transformation lies in the direction of your fears.