Life with him….
Was an invisible prison.
The surrounding walls made of steel barbed wire and 24 hour security cameras.
Every cell built and designed specifically to lock you away forever in darkness and fear.
A formal life sentence.
No judge, no jury, no appeals to your case…
One you can never escape…
Eternal devotion to survival.
And worshipping him….
The unquestionable king.
No one….challenges his reign.
You know it’s wrong…
A pit in the bottom of your stomach.
Living on the edge of life and death.
Every word, every action would result in cruel punishment.
But you quickly learn to obey the endless rules…
And you adjust to his serious and impossible conditions.
For this is the only way to endure day by day.
Even when it kills you…
You become good at being lifeless.
Your identity is woven into being the very image you hate: a prisoner.
The countless routines internalized and buried deep within.
You wear them on every layer of your chains and skin.
Until they become a part of you.
Your reactions become scripted.
Your emotions become deadened.
Your voice becomes silent.
The bursts of violence eventually are expected.
The moments of abuse normalized.
When you grow up a prisoner…
Freedom appears to be threatening.
Everything in reverse….
And I never knew any different.
For all my life this was my very definition of love.
I knew all the letters by heart.
I recited them perfectly.
If there ever was a problem in the home…
Or an issue….
That issue had to come from me.
Healing is a nightmare when…
All the denial is washed away…
When the hardened layers soften and disappear…
To reveal the painful truth and wound underneath.
When his love is revealed as fear.
And his home now appears as hell.
But the denial was there as a protective measure.
To keep you safe.
To keep you surviving….
But no one tells you…
After surviving the real pain is healing.
Seeing what you couldn’t bare to see.
I didn’t want to believe it was abuse…
But all the signs I could no longer ignore…
If my depression was my fault then why…
Why did I lower my head every time to avoid his gaze….
Why did I flinch whenever someone touched me…
Why did I lock myself behind my bedroom doors…
Why did I feel hate and rage at him…
Why did I cut myself and watch myself bleed…
Why did I cry alone in the shower so he couldn’t hear…
Why did I break down crying again and again….
Why did I pack my belongings and run away….
Why did I think suicide was the only way to escape….
Why did I numb my pain with food and sleep….
Why did I fantasize of being kidnapped away from his house…
Why did I learn how to hate myself so much….
Why did I….
Why did I…
I blamed myself for a very long time….
But that was what he wanted…
Because he was blameless…
His reputation spotless.
I don’t confess to point at his wrongs.
I’m no longer in a place of bitterness and anger.
I say it to remind myself…
This was abuse.
This was wrong.
It wasn’t my fault.
I didn’t cause this.
I didn’t ask for this.
I didn’t want this….
Part of breaking down the denial is…
Facing the truth inside me.
There was nothing I could have done to stop him.
There was nothing I could have said or complied with to end it.
I have to forgive myself for what I did to survive him.
To survive the home I lived in.
A home that was not a safe home.
I have to dress my own wounds and take care of the hate and anger that grew within me.
The intense feelings he projected onto me.
The ones I held myself responsible for…
The ones I clung onto…
But I couldn’t help him.
And I couldn’t stay….
All my love for him…
Eventually washed away….
Peace comes when you let go…
When you no longer want to fight.
When you lay down your despair.
When you give yourself time to grieve.
Grieve over what you lost…
Cry tears for the life you could never live.
When you stop reacting….and start responding to yourself.
When you know no one outside of you has any power over you…
When your life and you begin to matter.
When you start to see the worth you bring to the table.
When your voice finds a way to speak again.
When you feel less of the guilt, shame, and blame that was conditioned into you.
And start to feel more love, kindness, self compassion.
When your tears now flood with moments of joy and meaning.
When you don’t react out of fear, but out of love.
When you begin to trust…
When you stop looking for his shadows…
When you stop worrying about saying and doing the wrong thing…
When you see the special unique qualities you alone have.
When you cherish yourself…without regret.
When you talk a little kinder, a little more loving to yourself throughout the day.
When his voice and his shadows…fade away.
Accepting what you couldn’t bare to accept.
With healing comes freedom…
One you grow to welcome instead of fear.
Little by little the conditioning wears away….
Little by little the internalized fear lessens…
Replaced by courage…
The courage to let go….
To embrace love.