The beginning of an abusive relationship

It is important that I rehash everything. It is all I have ever been doing since I discovered that I was in a scary ride with a person suffering from a personality disorder. The proverbial grabbing of a tiger’s tail comes to mind. Grab a hold, hang on for the dear life and try not to get ripped to shreds when the tiger turns around and swats you. Let go? Seems scarier than I can ever imagine. Let go and be a sitting duck to face the full wrath of the tiger head-on? Standing there with my knees quivering in fear while the tiger slowly circles regarding its helpless prey, getting ready for the perfect time to lunge.

That’s where I am; on the cusp of letting go. I’ve been hanging on to the tiger’s tail now for 15 years, but I have to get out. I can’t hold on any longer, I must not. How did it all start? This has been the million dollar question that has been on my mind. What did I ever do to bring this life upon myself? I think I’ve analyzed it to the best of my layperson abilities and I’ve come up with a theory. The “Be Careful What You Wish For” theory; I will explain. You see, I grew up separated from my parents. My dad was offered a job abroad and left when I was about 4 years old. What I would have expected to happen would be for my mum and I to remain where I grew up so we could stay together. This didn’t happen. About a year after my dad left, my mum left to join him. So I was left to grow up with my maternal grandmother.

I remember this. I remember going to the airport to drop off my mother. I also remember at 6 years old, I flew to the country my dad and mum lived in, alone; the first trip I ever took on an airline. I remember the apartment; it had Terrazzo tiled flooring, it was cool and it smelled wonderful. It was devoid of furniture and had 2 bedrooms and a long corridor that I used to play with a blue and silver Mack truck that I don’t remember who gave to me. I don’t remember going back and leaving my parents. I remember my grandmother dropping me off in school and waiting to pick me up again. Bits of memories of school flash through my head. Possibly until I was about 9 years old. My mother wasn’t in them. I knew my parents as a distant phone call on a bad line that I received every month at a neighbor’s house since we didn’t own a telephone. I remember being coached by my grandmother in my responses to my parents. I remember the call I received when I was 8 years old where everyone seemed happy; I had a new born baby brother who was thousands of miles away. I felt nothing.

If you ask me where it began, I’d say it began with feelings of being alone. Of being with people who didn’t understand what I was thinking or feeling. Of growing up in a house where it was the norm to bottle up your feelings. Of being abandoned. I was abandoned. This is how I really felt and how I really feel to this day. Later on in life, whenever I interacted with my parents, I always felt that things were a bit forced. I really had no closeness to my parents. So this is where it started. I felt abandoned, I felt unloved. I really didn’t know how to express this feeling, but it was there. Like a splinter in your finger that you couldn’t reach and couldn’t remove. Something that caused you pain when you touched it in a certain way. So I carry
these feelings with me throughout my life until I turn 21 years old.

Since 18 I longed to have a girlfriend, but was too timid, didn’t know how to interact and was afraid of rejection. I would fantasize at night before I slept about this faceless girl who would be in my life and love me. It wasn’t sex, she would just love me. I would try to let this imaginary feeling of love wash over me and lull me to sleep. It was great and it was all I ever wished for–and then I met her. The girl in my dreams.

I married her when I turned 22. I’ve often asked myself why I did it and the only conclusion I came up with was that I needed love. I needed to not just be loved but also to be taken care of. I needed someone to take care of me and she was the perfect one. She was strong, independent, and caring. I needed her, she was just like this magical being sent to take away my pain. Let’s call her Jess.

We had a tumultuous courtship. My savior instinct kicked in on high alert to save her from her mother. Jess’ mother was moody, unpredictable, threw tantrums, and often used the threat of shaming or guilt to make her children do her bidding. Jess gradually taught me about her mother and all about her ways and moods. I can’t really remember much about the day I met Jess’ mum, except that it was unremarkable. Jess’ mum was pivotal in my role as knight in shining armor. I had to rescue Jess and the only way was marriage. I plan to write more about the courtship at a later stage, so I will not go into much detail now. If I were to sum up our courtship until marriage however, the most apt word would always be tumultuous.

Looking back at all this, it would be accurate to say that at this point, I was in way over my head. I was just a spectator in this perfect storm being manipulated into making decisions that I didn’t know the consequences of. All I knew was at the time I had to get married to hold on to this wonderful girl and I had get married to save this wonderful girl. The decision was wrong. Horribly wrong.

When the marriage started, things changed. First, it was the feelings of not being worthy enough. I was running my own business at the time, but I was constantly being made to feel like the money I made was not sufficient. I was compared with an ex-boyfriend of hers who had a large family fortune and multiple family businesses that he just inherited. I was constantly compared with this person and made to feel inadequate for not being able to provide a luxurious house. When he bought Jess an outfit, he bought not just the dress, but the shoes, bag and other accessories to match. Jess would accept the gifts I gave her with a wistful smile that I had been trained to recognize as the “I’ll accept your pitiful gift but I am not happy and my ex-boyfriend would have given me much more” look. I was always on my toes and constantly trying to elicit a genuine smile of appreciation from her.

The sex slowed down. A lot. While battling the constant feelings of inadequacy, I tried to gain affection and ultimately sex. I was refused both. I was told that I had to ask for sex when I wanted it and that Jess was unable to read any of my signals as she was just an innocent girl who didn’t know much about sex. She really didn’t, for she had grown up in a puritanical, Catholic household where sex talk was taboo and masturbation would be treated with priority boarding to the aircraft that flew you straight to the gates of hell. So I had to ask for sex. I don’t know how many of you have tried to do this, but it isn’t easy. On your guard, feeling inadequate for not giving enough, you also had to find a way to put your raw, animal, male desires into words. Do I say, “Can we have sex?”, do I say, “I want to have sex?”, what about, “Shall we go to bed?”, maybe. “Let’s f***!”. I tried many different ways to do this. Whenever I asked I felt lesser and lesser of a man. Sex was either given up grudgingly, flatly refused, or promised but never given. When it was given though, I was made to feel like I was receiving something that I didn’t deserve and that if I worked hard enough, then maybe I would be deserving of this. It was humiliating.

It was year 1 of marriage and I felt really low and I think things spiraled out of control from this point in. It would lead me to a life of alienation of friends and work colleagues, a life of getting into a significant debt, one of sorrow, misery and constant anxiety. A life I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, yet a life people from afar deem as one of the most perfect ever imagined. I will write more about my life and what I’ve learned in subsequent blog posts, but for now, this is how it began. With a boy that grew up without firm direction, without parents, in a guilt and shame based society, with possibly a mother that suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. A boy that jumped out of the frying pan to land into the fire, a boy forced to grow up feeling worthless, inadequate and anxious. Maybe this is how it started for some of you; maybe not. I just want to tell my story so that I can continue to gain the strength to leave. To go out and live a life where I can truly be happy.

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