Emotional Recovery

“I am just not as attracted to you as I could be”

I heard the words exit his mouth and my reaction was what any sane person would expect. Incredulousness, anger, shock. It took me a moment to process what he said. and then I expressed those emotions. I told him I thought he was being unfair.

He said he wasn’t. He said he had a right to express the things that displeased him just as I complained that he was always late to every event we went to.

I told him I didn’t think it was reasonable to call your girlfriend fat.

He said he didn’t use the word fat. I was twisting his words around. I was too sensitive and was overreacting

I said that for the first time in my life I was actually happy with my body and I hoped, that as my boyfriend, he would be too.

He said he didn’t think I should just be satisfied. I needed to stop eating sweets. It isn’t that hard to lose weight after all, you just ignore cravings and don’t eat things that are bad for you. I needed to stop making excuses.

I started crying. He barely reacted.

He said he didn’t need to apologize for his feelings. Didn’t I respect his feelings? Couldn’t I just accept constructive criticism? I was too sensitive (again) this is why he couldn’t talk to me about things because I always overreacted. Did I really want him to be walking on eggshells in our relationship?

He never apologized, I did. I apologized for being “too sensitive.”

***

That conversation was just the tip of the iceberg. I wish I could say that was the first time something like this had happened. I REALLY wish it had been the last. I allowed that, and every other unhealthy comment he made, to stomp all over the hard work I had made throughout the years to improve my fitness and be happy with where I was. My disordered eating came back with a vengeance. He knew I had a sweet tooth, so after that day he commented on every single bit of sugar that crossed my lips. I lied to him about when I ate a donut, a cookie, a piece of cake or candy at work.

I have gone back and forth on whether to share my experiences on this blog. To expose the fact that for five years I lived in an narcissistic, emotionally abusive relationship. I am lucky, I have opened up to friends, and acquaintances alike and everyone has believed me and has offered support. Some have even opened up to me about their experiences which has helped me realize, I am not alone. So many strong, intelligent, successful women have similar stories of abuse, and too many women stay silent.

In the past few months I have devoured countless articles and books on gaslighting, narcissism, and emotional abuse. Almost every article felt like it was written by someone who had watched my entire relationship. Suddenly, I realized I wasn’t crazy for feeling the way I had. I wasn’t too sensitive, I was just sensitive enough.

I am nowhere near fully healed (hell, I burst into tears this weekend because of everything). I am still working every day at finding forgiveness. Not for him, but for me.  In all honesty, I don’t know if I will ever be able to forgive him, but I know I need to forgive myself for staying in the situation for five years, and for not realizing what was happening.

Ultimately, I decided to open up about what happened here, because if even one person finds out they’re not alone, it is worth it. I’ll continue posting about how I am recovering occasionally, sharing my own experiences, what I am struggling with, what I have learned, what has worked, and what hasn’t.

Below are two books that have been immensely helpful, and which I believe everyone should read at some point, whether you have dealt with abuse in your life or not.

Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare by Shahida Arabi

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

Last, if you think you’re in an abusive situation there are resources to help you including the National Abuse Hotline.

If you just want to talk or share your story, comment below or email me and I will be sure to answer and listen.

 

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