Leaving an abusive person is as easy as stopping the rain with a cocktail umbrella. I had to hold one thought in my mind long enough to run: That thought was, “It’s not me, it’s him,” and everything he’d done was designed to make me believe the opposite: It wasn’t him, it was me because I was fatally flawed. Because I begged him to stop. Because I was pathetic. Because I cried every damned day like a fucking child. Because I could no longer work out where I ended and my confusion began.
Because I had no idea who I was anymore.
When I managed enough clarity to tell him I was done, the promises of therapy began. After months of refusing to acknowledge it, he suddenly realised he’d hurt me. His behaviour was inexcusable. He completely understood why I’d end it, but if I stayed, he’d see a psychologist. He swore it, true as the rain that was falling around me.
He didn’t do therapy.
How dare I suggest he even needed it? He couldn’t afford it just yet. He didn’t say it. He was coerced into saying it. It never happened at all. Every day came with a new and opposing statement until every bit of clarity I’d achieved fell at my feet.
It took me another three months to gather enough sense to end it again.
He had a habit of throwing 50 irreconcilable ideas at me at once. For the first hour, I could keep the truth from tangling up in my head. For the second, I could remember a few truths. For the third, the truth withered, and I lost track of what I’d said and what he had not. I mean what he had claimed I’d said but didn’t say. I mean what he…
I couldn’t leave when I felt that way, and that was the everloving point. If he could confuse me enough, he could buy another chance to break me. Broken women don’t leave.
They don’t challenge their partners either.
People often asked me why I didn’t just end it, as though it was as easy as opening up an umbrella on a rainy day, and in any other relationship, it would have been. In that one, my umbrella had shrunk to half the size of a cocktail glass. Two things had done it:
I loved him.
I hated myself.
The noxiousness of abuse is hidden in those two simple sentences. There’s a part of us that knows we can’t possibly be as awful as our abusers claim, but then the rain falls and the ground grows wet and we sink into the mud.
And so we don’t leave because we are fatally flawed. Because we are pathetic. Because we cry every damned day. Because we keep losing our clarity. Because we no longer know where the sky begins, and the earth accepts our tears.