I’ve spent time over the past few weeks reflecting on the roots of my abusive relationships. What I try very hard NOT to think about is the answer to questions like these:
Was any of it ACTUALLY real? Was there every REALLY any love between us? Were they lying to me from the start? Were the entire relationships just elaborate gaslighting schemes design to facilitate abuse?
It’s quite painful to cope with the potential truth that my entire marriage was abusive. It’s sometimes too difficult to believe this. It’s too difficult to hold that truth in my mind for more than a few moments. If none of it was real, the loss becomes immense. I can’t go back in time and re-live my children’s first years with a non-abusive partner. I might never know what it feels like to parent a child with someone I truly love and respect. I won’t get my 20’s back.
Sometimes I search my memory, grasping for pure memories. Moments that weren’t tinged with discomfort or abuse. I try to find some moments to hold onto that feel REAL, where we were both happy, genuine and authentic.
Sadly, I can’t find very many. I remember a lot of distance. I remember a lot of me questioning myself, changing myself, adapting myself, trying to fit in with what I thought I should be. I remember me hurting myself, starving myself, judging myself, disassociating, making excuses for him, and blaming myself.
I remember being alone. I felt alone. I was alone. I remember the isolation and desperation of post-partum depression and the loneliness of parenting two young children without much help.
I wonder if I ever really knew the man I was married to for a decade. Today, I can accept that I never did.
I can remember one genuine moment. It was in the hospital, after my first child was born. We were tired and happy. New parents. It was the first night after her birth, before he went home to sleep for a while. We were singing a ridiculous Hugh Laurie song that we’d both found amusing over the weeks before the birth. I remember laughing a bit, holding the baby in my arms. I think that was real.
But maybe it will always just be a mystery…