[TW for abuse, especially gaslighting]
There is this very weird thing that happens to me when I start trying to talk about or write about the abuse I have experienced. Everything starts coming out in short sentences, short paragraphs. I cannot express big complicated thoughts.
Which, if you read anything else I write, you will know that is right out of character for me. I am a wordy mother fucker. I love giant, complex sentence structures, and nuance, and disclaimers, and clarification. But I can’t talk about my experience of psychological abuse that way.
When I try to bring nuance or deep analysis to my memories, I get confused. I become uncertain. I don’t know what’s true. I am only certain of particular details, and it is hard to even hold more than a couple of those up the light at a time, to see how they relate, and interact.
This is part of why it is so hard to name abuse. I can barely even clearly *remember* what happened.
And it’s hard, because that’s now even strictly true. I remember a lot. A remember a lot very clearly. But somehow the way it’s stored in my memory makes it hard to turn over, to really examine. I don’t know if this is something that can be explained to someone who hasn’t experienced it. I can’t make the things add up to anything. The pieces refuse to fit together. No matter how many times I write them down in an order that makes an apparently coherent narrative, I still can’t quite hold the whole thing in my head. Not for long, anyway.
I have the details. I have so many details. Details that haunt me. Shit he said that even at the time I knew to be bullshit, but that I didn’t bother calling him on, because it wasn’t worth the effort. The ways my words always got twisted back onto me.
Some time after we broke up, I (sort of) confronted him on his bullying of me, the way he steamrolled me any time we had a disagreement; just refused to listen and kept hammering away until it didn’t seem worth it to continue to disagree, until even the fact that I knew I was right seemed less important than making it stop.
I told him that I often hadn’t meant it when I gave in.
He accused me of being dishonest. He said that because he loved me so much and believed me to be a such a strong person, he never would have thought I would do such a thing. He couldn’t believe that I wouldn’t keep fighting until I convinced him.
He said that by giving in, I had selfishly denied him the chance to grow as a person.
He implied that my giving in was evidence that I never loved him as much as he loved me.
And I can write that, and I can see that that is fucked up. But it’s just one piece of a much larger picture, one that I will probably never really be able to see.
But I want to write it down anyway, because maybe someone else will see it, and maybe it will help them, even just for one moment, understand their own histories, or their own present, for what it is.