*Trigger warning- this reflection mentions an abortion procedure and emotional abuse
Healing from a series of toxic relationships, at some point, becomes a soul-searching journey and a close look within self.
I remember aggressively texting my ex-lover paragraphs, endless paragraphs back-to-back, knowing that he strongly disliked reading my expressions, let alone when they were flooding in faster than the speed of light.
Was I Angry Because I Betrayed Myself?
I was hurt and felt betrayed, as a dedicated and serious attempt to live a heterosexual life for longevity with a charming new prince was turning to shit. My goodness was he perfect. At first. I had no idea of terms such as: gaslighting, trauma bonding, or of this term that I simply cannot let go of yet: narcissism. Nor was I in any position to date. Nor was I interested in dating. I had major healing work to do. But it was him. And I hadn’t seen him since that traumatic thing I was forced to do at age 14. I hadn’t seen or heard from him or of him in 19 years, but I have always reflected on the abortion.
My ego was damaged after I paraded my new fiancé around my family and on social media. I wanted everyone to feel the vibrance that I was living in. I wanted them to feel happy for me and my future. Never mind the timing. Never mind the fast pace that this reunion was taking.
But at some point, I kind of vanished. I quickly went from the family member who had returned to North Carolina seeking reconnection with family members to showing up here and there with this odd internal energy. After posting the pregnant belly, the engagement ring, the beach trips, the new home, and many “fake it til you make it” selfies.
Next thing I know, I realized that I’ve signed up for an intense power struggle between egos, identity, and misconstrued concepts of love. And emotional abuse, mostly emotional.
And while no forms of abuse are okay, I remember sharing in a support group for families overcoming intimate partner violence that of all of the forms of abuse that I have experienced in my life (sexual, physical, emotional, and my own self harm actions), that the emotional abuse damaged me most. I’ll explain why: in my mind I figured that bruises on the body can be covered and then they go away. Sexual abuse and coercion weren’t new to me and my ability to dissociate from that was innate. I can work through physical injuries, but I already struggle with emotion regulation. Again, that’s not okay, and I don’t recommend sticking to dissociation or avoidance mechanisms on any healing journey.
A Look Within Self
Looking back, I am able to see how I ended up in such a relationship. Again. I am now able to see my own role a year plus of stress, confusion (family, friends, finances), hotel stays, arguments, quickly packing what little I could and leaving with no plan, the times that I 10 hours to another state multiple times, and what led me to believe I could safely return to another dysfunctional home. What made me want to help and grow with my ex-lover when I was in an even more broken state than when we initially reconnected. I can say now that I no longer have this strong resentment and anger in my heart towards my ex. Because to me it was a familiar situation, just a different physical presentation. More troubling? Absolutely. But familiar. But it took a lot of time to realize this and to understand what forgiveness looks and feels like.
END OF REFLECTION #1
I will keep this series of posts going, and I will be sure to include the link to the previous one at the bottom of each post. Here is a poem that I added to this series.
I have enjoyed writing these creative reflections about toxic love. It has not only opened my eyes to my own shortcomings in the dating world, but I find it to be a form of comic relief. Sharing these reflections with others is an added bonus.