I Shouldn't Be Heartbroken?

by Kate

So, I'm out of it, finally. Two years of living with a narcissistic alcoholic who bullied, belittled, tormented me, and who told me I was a worthless loser, and a nobody. A man who played on my deepest fears to control me in every way he could. Playing on my low self-esteem made it easy for him to isolate me from all my friends: "They only bother with you because they feel sorry for you" was a common dig which I came to believe. His sulking and emotional withdrawal at the slightest hint of me going to a social event without him meant it was easier to just stay at home even though he would go out anyway. As for the arguments and violence if I did dare to venture out...well...I apparently only wore makeup and cute clothes because I was "on the pull all the time." So that's how it started, the start of the end.

I wanted to leave then, at the outset, but I didn't. I let the abusive man get away with it because I loved him and I thought that was more important than a few drunken words and actions. I had committed to building a life with someone, and that meant something to me, and anyway, it wouldn't always be like this, would it? The digs continued though, and he brought everything into question, from my appearance, weight, choice of career, my parenting skills. He asked about every little thing I did or didn't do. I was the worst at everything. He accused me of killing the baby that I heartbreakingly miscarried at eight weeks. He accused me of being a prostitute. He accused me of "leaching" from him financially because he happened to earn more than me even though this wasn't an issue when we originally discussed moving in together. He would steal my mobile phone, hide my keys, lock me out of the house. Threaten me and hurt me by grabbing at me and pushing me around and one time by throwing me across a room. I would lash out in self-defense and catch him with my nails, and he would threaten to call the police, and he honestly made me think that it would be me ending up in trouble.

I still didn't leave. I can't explain why. I didn't even want to at this point. I was lucky, I had my own money at least, but my abuser broke me so much that I had normalized the bullying and abuse to such a point that I think I feared the unknown. Leaving was not an option. I became (and still am) clinically depressed. I began popping Sertraline on a daily basis, which of course resulted in even more bullying from "You deserve to choke on those pills," to "Social services should take the children away for their safety" to "See how much you need me now that you're so mentally unstable?"

I would like to state that my children were never, and are still not in any danger and are wonderful human beings. Anyway, the Sertraline began scratching the surface of my psyche, and the fog began to lift, I was getting stronger. I asked him a few times why he mistreated me. His response? "Because you let me, it's what you deserve because it's your fault." However, instead of running away immediately at his answer, I began thinking of ways I could improve to make him stop since he was so unmistakably aware of what he was doing. Maybe we should start planning a wedding. Maybe we should have a baby, plan a holiday together just the two of us. I spent an entire weeks salary on a camera for him that he'd mentioned wanting. I just wanted it to stop. The drinking until he wet himself, the shouting, the noise, all of it.

Then I found messages on his facebook, private messages to another woman. Arranging to meet for lunch, "sneaking" out to the pub, phone calls at all hours of the night, kind compliments and conversation. He had it in him to be normal, a charmer even, but just not with me, at least not anymore. He was using lines that he'd once used on me, a lifetime ago. I was devastated and humiliated. I confronted him, I had to, which resulted in the worst torrent of abuse both physically and verbally to that point. He later drunkenly began tormenting my daughter after she returned home telling her that her dad doesn't love her (lies), calling her names and finally telling her to get out of his house. The next day I packed us a bag and left, and I have never looked back. That was my breaking point. I was homeless and so so petrified, but emotionally I was numb from the shock. I honestly believe he was capable of seriously hurting or even killing me judging from the bruises all over my arms and legs. Luckily family took us in, and we were able to sofa surf between various family members for a few months while I secured a deposit on a small rental house.

So, here 13 months later, and I feel like I have not been through the worst. Sometimes I think the worst is yet to come. I'm not sure how to move on from this, and I'm scared of my feelings of worthlessness. I am usually strong, but I'm frightened of breaking. However, I refuse to be heartbroken because I'm free from a terrible and devastating relationship. I refuse to cry. I will not shed tears for that man who tried and failed to destroy me. I cried every day we were together and somehow thought that was normal. It's still early days, and I'm often in a state of shock over it all. I still have nightmares that I'm back there, and I'm often exhausted from worry and panic attacks. And just occasionally I miss him, which is weird. I miss my old life. I mourn for the future I was supposed to have. I'm still trying to figure out who I am now after everything but I know I have changed beyond recognition inside and I will never be the same again. This difference is hopefully a good thing.

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