TW: Intimate Partner Abuse, Mental Health, Trauma
This might not be the first thing that you would want to go through if you are looking for hope. I am not going to bleed on paper and this is not going to be a beautiful story of my scars or finally finding someone to nurture my war wounds. This is going to be a summation of the process of recovery, a rather awkward coalesce of my shattered self-esteem, the absolute frustration of finding the ‘usual’, challenging, grieving as well as seeking my past self and encountering hope which did not come in its usual form.
I completely understand the misfortune of having had to endure it, the sheer benevolence of fate to have dawned upon me that I had to stand up for myself, a robust support system and the favorable circumstances that let me pick up the reigns of my life. What I can say with absolute certainty is that recovery is a not a one-dimensional process and in fact, is a rather wrenching one at that. It gets exhausting, not the ‘I will try harder, tomorrow’ exhausting but ‘I just wish there is not a tomorrow’ exhausting.
I was in an abusive relationship for close to three years, and the deplorable aspect of it is that it did not feel like the worst thing in the world, accompanied by my resolute devotion to the relationship. Had I been checked on by a friend then, I might have gotten offended and passed off my partner’s behavior as “slightly aggressive”.
There was gaslighting, manipulation to an exponential degree and when all of this would fail to produce their desired result, it would often escalate to emotional and physical violence. This was immaculately interpolated with bouts of affection and compensatory coddling, which usually kept me walking on eggshells and led me to believe that it is something I do which sets them off. It is hard to tell if it was the result of widely propagated and more often than not internalised highly toxic standards of romance or their own internalised sadism.
When I finally left, it sure felt like a win. However, it was just the right amount of empowerment to nudge me in the right direction but not quite the fuel to undertake the journey, which honestly did not seem so long back then.
Initially, with the major restructuring of my routine, came the self-doubt. It stemmed from how I had always taken great pride in being a strong, self-sufficient individual with an impeccable emotional quotient and the shock at how, despite this, there was such a lapse of judgement on my part. My hyper-vigilance for red flags burgeoned, highlighting in a way the red flags from the past that I missed when it came to even my loved ones.
I constantly failed at making myself heard, due to my crippling fatalistic attitude given what had showing initiative before, led to. I choked on my insecurities and thoughts because communicating paved way for the guilt of burdening someone with my baggage. Close ones took sides, which further diminished whatever minuscule of self-worth I was left with.
Also read: To All The Traumas I’ve Lived
Apart from the plethora of virulent emotions, the instability of your spirits with which you will have to face a new day might get to you. On a day where your spirits would be indefatigable, you will convince yourself that you are ready to ‘move on’. However, as soon as the serotonin of the first date will wear off, the familiar insecurities will hit you. It does not mean that you didn’t work through the crisis, it just means there are latent layers. Do not let this derogate you from your recovery. At this point of time the expediency of bottling up your past trauma might look like an attractive option, however I can assure you that it will undeniably be detrimental to your progress as well as that of your relationship.
A traumatic past is not a free pass to justify your dysfunctional behaviour, and that is why it is important that one continues introspecting one’s actions because there is always a possibility of you subconsciously attributing more to the trauma in the process of lamenting it; however it will provide context for some mal-adaptive patterns that you might have developed (for instance, I am hyper vigilant for any unusual behavioral cues, which leads me to constantly checking up on people).
In all likelihood, you’ll be wary of sharing as essentially talking about something rooted in a dark phase isn’t easy. However it is of utmost importance that you grow comfortable enough with your past that you can share it with your prospective partners.
I cannot quite ascertain how far I have come. I am unsure if this is it or if things will get better; if it will be easier to live one day at a time; if it will stop feeling as difficult to love as it does now; and if at all it will be possible to trust.
Rationalisation has come in handy, I try to keep optimism in the most accessible pocket of my skinny jeans, but at the end of the day, my jeans is still skinny and trying to find a regular one is going to take a lot more gumption than I possess. Until then, I will try to make slight adjustments and look for margins and seams that can be opened.
The journey of recovery is long, arduous, frustrating, uninviting and full of setbacks. But it is an essential one to take and I assure you by the virtue of being on the path that it does have its little wins and small pit-stops where you can take a breather.
Author’s note: I have gone through the aforementioned myself, as much as I have tried to produce an account true to my experience, I am aware that some subconscious resistance might have crept in to defend my psyche from reliving the pain, so in case you want to seek some clarifications or need someone to talk to, do not hesitate in writing to me at email@example.com.