Trigger warning: In this post I write about some emotional & physical abuse. So if that triggers you at all… you probably shouldn’t read this.
I read this post yesterday that ended up being a huge trigger for me: https://twentytwowords.com/domestically-abused-woman-reveals-chilling-texts-she-used-to-get-from-husband/
Reading through those texts… they could’ve very well been from my ex.
I’ve never really written what it was like… but I think I’m finally ready to.
My first fiancé was a guy named Josh (I call him JMJ- since I’ve dated several Josh’s) . When we first met he was driven and sooo incredibly caring. In the beginning it was all sparks.
Slowly… it began to change. I think the first red flag was early on… whenever I went out with friends, I had to check in by a certain time. I wasn’t allowed to wear this skirt or that dress. If a guy got too close or even looked at me wrong, JMJ would get in his face or yell at me. Usually both.
I thought he was protective and I never really had someone looking out for me, so I didn’t mind it. Especially with my history of being sexually abused. He felt like a protection from all of that.
I remember the day things took a turn for the worse.
My friend Andy and I were starting up a company together. He was married to one of my close friends and they were expecting a baby.
One day I accidentally let it slip that Andy and I had gone on a date before he started dating my friend. It was ancient history. But it was like a switch flipped off in JMJ’s head. He used to love Andy and from that point forward he hated him. Which sucked because Andy and I worked well together and there was never anything going on between us. We treated each other like siblings.
There was this one day we were super behind and were really head down trying to catch up. I remember hearing tires squeal in the parking lot as someone pulled in really fast. Next thing I know JMJ storms in, grabs my arm, and practically growls that we need to talk NOW.
I thought something major happened… so we went outside. He grilled me for a solid 15 minutes. Turns out he was pissed because he didn’t hear from me that morning and he thought Andy and I were up to something. Then he broke down crying. I remember comforting him and holding him. Then the rule became I had to check in every 3 hours. Or else.
He was worried I was cheating with Andy… which ended up being hilarious because that entire time he was cheating on me with his ex. I just didn’t know at the time.
Then it was weird little things…
Sometimes Andy and I would grab some drive thru Carl’s Jr for lunch and then head back. When I’d call JMJ later he’d yell at me. Turns out he followed me and Andy to get lunch? Even though nothing happened I wasn’t allowed to ride alone in a car with another guy. I didn’t really care… it was just lunch. If it helped him sleep better at night, fine.
When I’d go over to my best friend’s house, I found out later he camped out in his car around the corner to make sure we stayed in. I got texts all the time to make me “prove” where I was. Part of the reason I hate selfies.
He used to make me call him at random times, but no one else could know and just leave the phone on so he could listen. If I’d refuse, there would be hell to pay later. Or he’d accuse me of hiding something.
I had nothing to hide. So I did it. One little accommodation, just snowballed into a bunch of them.
I was saving myself for marriage at the time. So I wouldn’t sleep with him or let him move in.
For the most part, he respected that. But other times… he’d be frustrated and would lay on the charm thick… trying to trick me into it. That was one of the few things I’d stand up to him on. We’d fight intensely.
He blamed his insecurity. That me not sleeping with him, couldn’t “show him how much I loved him”. He felt like the only thing that would fix all the problems we were having was if we got married and lived with each other. I was young and naive… so when he proposed soon after I accepted.
I soon realized it was a huge mistake. It got worse when we got engaged. Like I suddenly became his personal property, and that was when the physical abuse started.
He tried to control me financially, make me dependent on him. But I wouldn’t. Wouldn’t move in with him. Wouldn’t stop working. Wouldn’t let him budget or invest for me because he thought he knew how to do it better. I’d go toe to toe with him, my temper flaring.
Sometimes he’d laugh and say he enjoyed the challenge. Other times, he’d grab my arm hard, push me into a wall, once he hit me across the face.
Usually all of our fights ended the same way. Him crying. It being my fault for not giving him what he wanted. Me comforting him. We’d make up. He promised it would never happen again.
Then I found out about the cheating… everything got even worse. Usually it was him yelling… but I was livid so I did most of the yelling. Our worst fights happened during this time. We brought out the worst in each other.
When he’d yell, I’d just emotionally shut down and hide behind my wall… make my face super passive- never let him see how much he affected me. In fact, I’d throw my best insults at him. He’d scream in my face, grab my arm, but eventually storm out. When he was gone, I’d finally break down.
Now that I think about it all… I know that I’m lucky he didn’t do worse to me. I should’ve left. I don’t know why I fought back like that. At the time I thought that true love was all consuming like that. Where you fight hard, make up harder, and then get lost in the pattern of it all.
The fact that he was an angry frustrated man should’ve been a red flag to me. It wasn’t. I had spent lifetime deal with my father who had the same issues… I thought I knew how to handle them. That’s not the point though… I shouldn’t have had to. Now I look back and realize what a huge bullet I dodged.
I look back on that young girl… and I just want to give her a hug. Tell her it isn’t normal. That love doesn’t come with bruises, ever.
I soon after started my exit plan and got out. But of course it got worse before it got better, more bruises and cuts.
When I finally ended it for good… I moved and wouldn’t tell him where I moved to. He started showing up at friend’s houses looking for me. Stalking me online. So I got rid of all social media. I kept a few old blogs that meant a lot to me, but for the most part wiped everything and paid a professional to keep any trace of me offline.
I wish I could say I had been smarter, that I had filed a police report. Restraining order. Something. Anything. I didn’t. I thought that it was my fault that he exploded like that. I was the one to end the engagement. And I knew the kind of job he wanted… if there was a record I’d be screwing him over. I didn’t want to hurt him. I felt like I had done enough by breaking his heart. So I just disappeared.
Wanna know the fucked up part? Sometimes… I question my own memory of it. Also when I’ve been sexually assaulted, there is this part of me that wonders if it happened because I wasn’t with JMJ. He wasn’t there to protect me from it. It’s twisted. Like I somehow got programmed to think if he wasn’t there to take care of me… bad things would happen.