Fairy tales, wedding wishes, romance in hearts and flowers, it's what all little girls grow up wanting and picturing for themselves. It's like we have this pre-programmed idea in our brains about how relationships are suppose to be. The "chick flick" romantic comedies we tend to place ourselves in when we watch and say "That's the guy I want. The relationship I want"... I had those moments, I had those wants, but unfortunately I came to the realization after almost a decade with the "man of my dreams", several affairs, and years of control and neglect later that the magical life of a romantic relationship wasn't meant for me. I didn't question its existence, I knew love and romance existed it just clearly wasn't for me. I wasn't deserving of it I suppose. Maybe I held out for what I thought love was for too long. I didn't start seeing my now ex husband until I was 17 and there were none before him. I had this idea that I would only do it once and I wanted it to be perfect. I didn't want to waste my time with dating or relationships but find that one guy that changed my mind and hold onto him until the end.... Which I did. He was my one and only. My whole world. I did everything for him and devoted my every breath of existence to what he asked of me. My life was souly his. The only problem was his life was not mine. I was not his focus. I never would be. Not even after we had children together. Not after I took him back for cheating. Not after I forgave his actions and behavior a million times and made a million excuses for why it was ok for him to treat me the way he did. I would never matter more than he mattered to himself. His wants would always come first and he was never sorry for it. He just made sure that I understood I was the reason for his acts towards me and if I wanted it to get better I would need to be "a better wife" to him.
I was that girl. That girl that slowly no one could stand being around. No one could stand the pain, the tears, the obvious abuse... It was too hard to watch and people started to realize there was no saving me. From the age of 17 to 23 I dedicated my life to a person who fully took advantage of my pure innocence and lack of experience. I had fallen in love with a user who fully intended on shaping me into the perfect dedicated servant to whatever he needed when he needed it. I was drawn in by the love, the flowers, the magical illusions my adolescent brain thought love was. I still remember when he took off his mask. I tried to run and brake free but his tears and begging drew me back. I some how felt responsible to keep him happy. My life was to keep him happy. So that's what I did.
I lost everyone I loved. I wasn't allowed to have friends. If I did I was accused of horrible things until it was easiest to just be alone. I was never allowed a car. That way I was never able to go where he couldn't watch me. I stayed home. For almost ten years of my life. When I did have a job I would have to hand over my paychecks to help pay the bills he created for himself. We were a couple building a life together so I should give him my paychecks to help with that. I had to ask for some of my own earned money just to get things I needed but to be told what I needed wasn't important. Years of control and manipulation piled up and I found myself getting married and pregnant.
What was suppose to be the happiest time of my life was suppressed pain and screaming to keep up the "I'm alright" face I was putting on. I was happy to be a wife and mother. I was happy to have a family. I was happy taking care of the life I created. I just wish my "team mate" felt the same.
It was less than two years into our marriage the first time his cheating was found out. I was busy struggling through a miscarriage alone while we was finding attention in more important places I suppose. It was my birthday and I just lost my baby. He was out with a very close person in my life living it up like he was in a new relationship. Happy. Exciting. Young. I held onto my one year old and mourned the loss of my second child I would never meet.
I of course took him back. His begging and pleading to change took me over as I tried to fix my family for the only thing in my life that mattered. My son. Two years I tried. Two babies now. Still alone all the time. Other women were still more important. Two years he took advantage of my heart. My love. My devotion to him. Not even our children made him realize what he had. Just to take advantage of a gift he was given that he didn't deserve.
I still remember the Christmas he kicked us out. I'm still blamed for leaving. I see it as escaping. I was told to get out but really it was a ticket to a new life for my children and I and I was going to be brave and take it. I struggled for the first few months. Thinking I should go back. No one will ever love me. I'm not worth love. I'm stupid. I have nothing to offer. I don't matter. He made me everything that I was. I was wrong and it took me some time to realize how wrong I had been for so many years but I did.
I never realized until I was free that I was in fact in an abusive relationship. I didn't realize how bad it was until I learned my own self worth and that I never deserved the life I had been living. I have been free now for almost two years. I had to muster my courage and figure out how strong I really was so that I could overcome the abuse I had been brainwashed in so I could take control of my life for my children and I.
It takes a long time to learn that you are worthy of love after you leave abuse but I know now that I am. My past is not who I am and I will never allow my life to be treated like it holds no value again. Over the past two years I have been learning so much about what love really is and about the many forms that it can come in. People seem to think that soul mates only come around once in a life time but I think there are different stages in love. Different connections. Different reasons and different causes. Now that I am allowed to live I am allowed to experience all of those types of love which in turn have helped me accept true love from the person that was always meant to be my counterpoint in this life. The girlfriends, the guy friends, the for the time being friends, and one time meeting friends. The moments in conversations with a stranger and the exchanged smiles. Being allowed to love and be free to do so with out it being used against you or to hurt you. My life is mine and my love is mine and I will never again allow someone to abuse it and treat it like its worthless.
I have learned so much about love and its many forms and connections. That sometimes we have to walk out a life we are in at that moment to truly learn and appreciate the life we deserve when we have it and to never take advantage of it. To learn that we are meant to be loved and to be loved by many in different and positive ways and that is what fuels our lives in healthy directions and keeps us on the path we were meant for.
I am learning to love after abuse. It is hard but I am loving learning how to accept it. Because I deserve it. Love is the closest thing we have to magic. We should never dull it's shine.
xoxo Emily Doll TVD
xoxo Emily Doll TVD
Written for and Originally Published in Lipstick & Lashes Magazine Issue 2
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