I wasn't sure if I should post this, but since I've written out all these jumble from my head, I'll go ahead.
I read a few things on my brother's fb this morning that really disturbed me. And then I thought about it, and thought about it some more. Yesterday I stumbled upon Sophia Harlow's blog post and I was already thinking about relationships and love/hate.
When a (sort of) similar but much less extreme situation happened to me a few years ago, I had wanted to write about it. But I never got down to it because it is so much easier to avoid thinking back.
But today, I shall share my story. I hope that my brother only gets to read this when he is in a more collected state of mind. Please understand that I am not here to judge, I only want you to know that nobody is free from pain.
My ex and I were both older, so we both knew my rights and resources, and the trouble I could get him into if I wanted. Maybe that was why he never got physical, or maybe he just isn't physically abusive. I don't know.
But not getting beaten up didn't mean that there was no abuse. It just meant that I did not know I was being abused and it took me a long time to realise what it was really about. His control and manipulation seeped in, dose by dose. At one point I recognised that I couldn't go anywhere or do anything or not do anything without him giving me hell, or giving me permission first then hell.
Even then I did not realise what I had gotten myself into. He was my first serious relationship and I thought that maybe I just wasn't cut out for a real relationship. I contemplated planning for a religious celibate life. :p
Looking back, I think that I was kind of lucky too. It is the norm for Asians to stay with our parents until we get married, and I believe that I was better protected because of my close proximity with my family.
Still, those years were hell. I remember running off to the toilet to deal with him on phone when I was at work, because he started abusing me over a single missed call. I remember telling him where I would be and the specific time I couldn't answer his call. He called anyway. There were 44 missed calls over a span of less than 15 minutes and a pending fight for later. I remember fighting with him when I was out with my best girlfriends simply because he didn't like the idea that I was with anyone else other than him. I remember fighting with him into the wee hours of the night because I needed to sleep (I was working a job that required me to wake up damn early each morning) but he wanted to stay on the phone. After he calmed down enough from each episode, he would return to apologise, give excuses and beg my forgiveness. But the same thing would be repeated week after week. My list can go on and on, it was neverending.
I sucked it up and hid these from everyone. I stupidly thought that it was only between him and me. I let him guilt me into thinking that I did not love him enough, that I owed him in our relationship. Did needing sleep mean that I didn't love him? Yeah, maybe. I can actually go without love, but I can't go without sleep. Suck it up too, man.
I was quite a happy and peaceful person by the time I met him. He was smart, kind to animals and respectful to the elderly. He was everything I dreamed of, and he eventually became everything I was afraid of. I turned defensive and paranoid. But I was mostly angry. I was angry with him for not turning out correct, I was angrier with myself for allowing all his nonsense. My anger accumulated, I started losing control of my temper in a way that I didn't understand, and which he later used to justify how wrong I always was.
But I still loved him. And I knew that in his own freaked obsessive way, he loved me too. He just didn't have a healthy balance, to put it mildly. I don't know how I did it, but I tolerated him for 14 months before I tried to break up. And I wasn't even strong enough to make a clean break. I actually promised to wait for him to stabilise his emotions. Yes, I was a hopeless pushover.
I couldn't recover anyway. Of course it didn't help that he would keep calling me throughout the year.
Finally after 10 months, I did a stupid thing. I hooked up with another guy. I didn't know him well, I took him because he had a great body. ":/ I knew it was not the right thing to do. I felt horribly guilty too.
But I was desperate enough.
On hindsight now, I can see that the impulse was really a subconscious attempt to escape from the ex. I can see now how he had affected me into thinking that I was such a lousy person he was the best I could get, and that I could not live a better life without him. My subconscious self was trying to tell me that he was wrong. It turned out to be the best stupid decision I had ever made.
Of course, hell broke loose again after that. The ex naturally gave his worst when I broke my promise to return to him. My guilt made me suck it up again. I am sure you will love the juicy details, so I will give you some. :) Ok, I didn't suck it all up, I was angry enough to retaliate at times. But I did allow him to con and gamble all my savings away even though he knew I was jobless then. I had to borrow money from my parents to survive that period. I only managed to get back about a quarter of the money he took, but he can keep the rest of it now if it means I won't have to see him again. I see it as paying him back for some of the expensive presents he gave me in the past. :p Now that I am over it, I find it kinda hilarious in a warped way. Ha.
The weird part was that I would rather be a two-timing cheat than return to be his woman. It didn't make sense anymore but I could no longer help my feelings. And my feelings were clear - I could live with being whatever effing label he said I was, I just couldn't live with him.
On the other side, I remembered what it was like to breathe again when I was with the other man. He didn't care much at first, but we communicated gradually and developed a mutually respectful relationship that lasted a few years. Things didn't work out still, he was quite the wrong person to hook up with and I am picking up the residue of this relationship now, but I am contented with what we had.
That relationship gave me confidence, and after a few months into it I finally resolved to clean house. Like I said, I knew my rights and resources. I didn't use it before because I had allowed him to twist everything into my fault. Well, it was not like I could stop him from doing so anyway. But I was pushed to a point where I didn't care whose fault it was anymore. Right and wrong were so obviously distorted that they no mattered to me. I just wanted out.
My last contact with him was in July 2007, and it was 3.5 years from when we started and almost 2.5 years after I initiated the first break. I don't know what happened to him from then on (before that I last knew he was trying to con a rich girl), but I do know that I got better and better. I have had another relationship, and I know that I can deal with problems without running to yet another man. Yeah, something happened but I stayed firm. Congratulate me. *grins* I also know that real respect goes a long way. The ex's accusations and my guilt had since crumbled into dust.
I still freak out now whenever any guy starts arguing like the ex, and I am resigned to carrying this phobia for a longer time. Sometimes I wonder if it is really over, if he is really never going to bother me again. My emotions are in good shape otherwise. :)
Bro, I know you have a different story. So she may be as bad as you say she is. But your behaviour to her now reminds me of what the ex had done to me. I cannot encourage or support you in this. You can tell me that I didn't deserve it and she does (which I don't agree with but I am not here to dispute that), but I can't tell you that you are right to do this any more than my ex was. Please don't stoop to this. Please. I know your pain, I truly do. We have both loved and lost before, and we have survived.
You must know that I have never seen myself as his victim. I can think of a thousand ways now how I could have handled it better back then, though back then I did not have the capacity to see it. I don't blame myself, but I have realised that to absolve myself from blame I need to forgive him too.
If you need to forgive her to be happy again, then do it. I truly believe that she was just not mature enough to have handled things the way she did. And no excuse will deplete her share of failure. She is responsible for what happens with her just as you are responsible for what happens with you. For yourself, please move on. I promise that you will be better off when you do, but it is a promise that can only be broken by you.
Buck up. We love you.
I love you.
p.s. Sophia, if you read this, I'm rambling again. It has nothing to do with you except that I identify with a few things in your blog post. I am sorry for associating my story with yours, it's just a coincidence. Let me know if you wish me to delete the link.