Truth. It’s one of those things that everyone values and yet a lot of people can’t bear to face. So here we go, the uncomfortable and awkward expansion on that bit of truth that I brought up in my piece about Why Ice Cube Got It Right When He Said Women Are Bitches, Hoes and Tricks: the story of breaking up and kicking out my abusive ex-boyfriend.
Why is the “truth” so difficult/scary/uncomfortable for so many people?
Perhaps you’ll have to confront something about yourself, others, your situation, and the world around you that you would rather not face.
Then you have two choices: either face “the truth” OR put the blinders back on.
Uncomfortable truths that I face about myself are: I trust people. I forgive easily. I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’m a compulsive organiser and cleaner. I’m used to and quite capable of taking care of myself so I have a hard time asking for help. I have a problem with so-called authority and rules that I perceive to be pointless or unjust and will disregard those ones. I don’t believe that there is anyone on the planet who is better or more deserving than I am of anything, basically in my mind everyone is equal, and that doesn’t work for those who buy into antiquated hierarchical thought constructs. I’m a risk-taker and sometimes that works for and against me. I intimidate people. I don’t believe in or conform to gender roles. I love my family but I don’t like most of them. I still love my ex-husband and this abusive ex-boyfriend in spite of it all. I believe the truth should be honoured above all else, including friends.
So in the context of the violent ex-boyfriend, I have discovered that the truth is incredibly difficult for people to think or even hear about. People can be incredibly sympathetic and obtuse when they do. They’ll say interesting things like “I would call the police if he did that to me.” and “It’s horrible what he did to you but I’m still going to be friends with him because….” And for those who like to put people on pedestals, they are disappointed and sometimes disdainful of you, as if you told them you just accidentally on purpose broke their favorite dish. I had one person say to me when they heard about what happened that it was “terrifying” for them to think about.
That’s just fucking insulting to hear after you’ve been through a truly “terrifying” experience.
Terrifying is having the person who supposedly “loves” you holding a huge-ass knife an inch from your throat and threatening to kill you.
A friend said to me “Don’t post it on Facebook.” and another just stopped talking to me. The ex’s parents thanked me for not telling too many people. A now ex-roommate moved out after he found me sleeping on the couch and I told him it was because my ex-then-boyfriend hit me. People even asked me questions like “Why did you stay with him?”, “Do you love yourself?” and “Are you going to go back to him?”
The questions were not asked with malicious intent but it’s clear that in their shock and dismay of hearing the truth, they were not really thinking very clearly about what they were saying and why. Nor were they really thinking about how saying these things affects a person. It’s like asking a war veteran “How many people have you killed?” or “What does it feel like to kill another person?” or a cancer victim “How does it feel to have cancer?” and expecting the person to not think you’re an insensitive asshole.
Yes, asking questions like that makes you an asshole.
Asking those kinds of questions goes beyond bad manners and poor taste because it is dismissive and invalidating to the horror a victim has suffered. And if you have been a victim of some sort of threat or attack then you know what I’m talking about. Let me put it into a context, if you were fired from your job without good reason would you want people asking you “What does it feel like to get fired?” and “What did you do?” as if it your experience is some bit of reality TV programming for their entertainment.
I didn’t think so.
So let me break it down, the awful truth about the domestic violence I’ve experienced that still has me only sleeping about five or six hours at night, and my skinny jeans baggy on me:
My ex-boyfriend shoved me around, called me awful names, and said other nasty things to me. He tried to destroy and threatened to sell/keep my laptop unless I did what he told me to many times. He threw things at me. He strangled me three times, once to unconsciousness. I had a broken toe from kicking the floor while he was strangling me at one point which took about two months to heal. He hit me twice in the face, once so hard that my nose started bleeding and I had a black eye which extended over the bridge of my nose. The other time the blow landed on my right cheek but indirectly so the bruising was minor. He punched me in the back while I was lying in bed and in the back and sides of my head. He held a knife to my throat and threatened my life several times. He nearly cut half of the tip of my little finger off with one of his knives but luckily the cut, while deep, was clean so it healed well.
The majority of this all happened over the course of six months after we arrived in Spain. The first time it happened was in his parents house while they were away in Colorado on vacation in January or February earlier this year, I forget now. During that first time he shoved me around and I sprained my right hand. That took a couple months to heal but I stayed with him believing his story about having PTSD and having an episode.
The fact is, as awful as all that happened to me was and sounds, it could have been much worse.
You don’t realise how bad things are/were until you sit down and talk to someone, write a thing like this, are out of the situation. And an even scarier thing is, if I had stayed with him, it probably would have gotten worse if I hadn’t finally decided that I’d had enough, that being in a foreign country, having nearly all my financial resources depleted, not speaking the language well or having a job no longer mattered.
The day I shoved him out the door, literally pushed him out the front door as he stood in the doorway (thank god without his keys) and slammed it closed after he attacked me was the one of the best days of my life. And of course the worst.
That last day, and every day since, I’ve had to face some more uncomfortable truths about myself and my situation.
The fact that I had been fooling myself for several months thinking that everything was alright and things were going to get better between the ex and I. The fact that I was being stupid and careless with my life by being with that guy. My propensity to auto-trust people and give in some people’s minds, give them more credit than they deserve. But I know that bad habits can be broken over time with practice. So yes, I will continue to endeavour to persevere in loving more as Thoreau suggested because I decided it’s best for me to forgive myself.
I forgave my ex-boyfriend as well.
I still talk and interact with him. We argue about the details of what he did to me because he tries to twist them about. I correct him so he’s not operating under a false and distorted pretense and about what actually happened and what he did. But this is proving to be a fruitless endeavour. But being the person I am, I have hope that by being in his life…maybe he will learn, grow from this experience, and one day be a better version of himself.
But the truth is he may never make those things happen for himself.
So why share all this?
It’s pretty simple really. I want other people, especially those who may be in an abusive relationship, to know what happened to me. It’s better to be truthful about oneself, others and a situation you are experiencing than to conform to this foolish idea that you shouldn’t talk about such things because of how others may feel and react.
Whatever it is you’re dealing with in life, it’s important to talk about the experiences you’ve had, both “good” and “bad” so you can process how you feel about what’s happening or happened. Sharing, reaching out, connecting, whatever you want to call it, is important so you know you’re not alone. Especially in situations involving violence.
It’s important to take comfort in realising that other people have been in a similar situation. And that they overcame and survived. Or not.
It’s important for others to know who those violent abusive people are so they can protect themselves and not find out the hard way, like I did.
It’s important to face the truth of who you are by admitting to and accepting the things about you that make you a beautiful, unique and yes, an imperfect individual. It’s important to realise that if you don’t like various truths about yourself only you have the power to change them into ones that you do like. And last but not least, it’s important to keep in mind that death happens to us all, can come at any time, and that your opinion of you and how you choose to live are the only things that truly matter.
Stop living for others, waiting until tomorrow to do things that bring you joy, and start living your life for you.