In general, it is the existence of two opposing thoughts held at the same time. It promotes a sense of confusion and keeps one stuck in a toxic relationship.
Here is what I said to myself over and over in this past relationship:
This relationship is abusive and unbearable. I need to get out.
He really is a great guy. It's ME with all the problems.
Most people would leave a relationship when it gets unbearable or when their boundaries get crossed. Unfortunately, I stayed around — and for many reason.
Self-esteem was one.
I was hooked. I was hooked by all the good things he did for me.
Bill idealized me at first. What girl would NOT want what he gave me? I spent 2 long years hurting and waiting for Matt to come home. Two years without a date. Two years without a man in my life who kissed me, complimented me, treated me like I meant something to him. I realize this is a short time to be without someone. I know that. At the same time, those years were spent feeling rejected and sad, trying to find the power within myself to take care of myself and my son. I spent those years writing, taking care of myself, hanging out with healthy friends and doing fun things with my son.
It's no wonder when Bill came around (and I did date a few other men too) that I fell carelessly into his arms. Here's what I wrote about Bill when I first met him:
my heart skips a beat when he calls. when he writes. when he texts. when he says he's thinking of me. my heart leaps when he says he's on his way. when he shows up. when he opens the door for me. when he pulls me close and looks into my eyes. when he lightly, softly kisses me. when he walks up behind me, brushes my hair away and melodiously kisses my neck.... his breath tingling my back. i get butterflies when he compliments me. when he notices all the little things about me that have always gone unnoticed, unappreciated. my heart skips a beat when he holds me tightly, pulls me closer to him. when he makes me wait. and wait. and wait. he's patient. much more patient than i am. and he's a gentleman. he only kisses me the way i want to be kissed when we are alone. and he wont go any further than is appropriate. he lets me enter a room first, holding the door for me. he will tell me i look great. that i smell good. that i'm attractive. that he likes the scarf i'm wearing; that he loves the hat i have fashioned on. and then my shoes, oh how he adores my sexy shoes! he notices it all. he misses nothing. and remembers every detail.
he appreciates everything i say and do. he writes lists of things he loves about me, but most important (he says) on his list is that i am confident and strong. he thinks i am smart and strong. and my age... he is not interested in younger women, like the young cute gals who work at alterra (coffee shop). he wants a woman like me, with life experience. and... he believes in me! it's as if he really knows me, and for the first time in my life i feel as if there is a person who completely gets me! i can't control him, not one bit. but i can make his knees buckle when he looks into my eyes and he makes me weak in the knees.
he's a man. he's sweet. kind. gentle. light. strong. thoughtful. confident. secure. not possessive. encouraging. cute. tall. talented. spiritual. exciting. adventurous. human. loves the outdoors. loves to read. loves to talk. loves to listen. loves that i love my job. finds everything about me acceptable. i feel good with him. i feel normal. i feel understood. i feel there's no roller coaster of emotions.
i have, finally, a small semblance of a personal life again, and it is so refreshing.
he might have the power to hurt my feelings but he has the humility to apologize and make things right. he's warm, gentle and kind.
he lets me be me. i do what i need. he wants me to be independent and not be clingy. he doesn't need me, but enjoys his time with me. he has a life, friends, passions, interests. everything makes sense. he has a healthy outlook, is educated, spiritual. he talks about my son as if he'd like to be a part of his life someday. he says he never wanted a child but it would be nice perhaps. he thinks i am an amazing mother raising a great child. and that gives me hope that we could be together as a family some day! and he even writes me one-line love poems and 4-line sonnets (technically not a sonnet). we have long, long kisses, the kind a woman dreams about, the kind that make me cry sometimes. he holds me tight in his arms, wraps himself around me like no man ever has. i fit right into his shoulder; my protector, my sweet lover, my friend and confident. he says he hears music when we are together. and i hear music when he's gone. he greets me with a text good morning every day, and each and every night without fail he wishes me sweet dreams. without fail!! without fail!!
i could not ask for more! i'm so happy!
After 2 years of feeling rejected, not beautiful, unloved, here comes a guy who tells me all the things I longed to hear from my ex-husband! He was Prince Charming at his best! I was lifted up and adored! He not only adored me, but thought I was smart, beautiful, kind, sweet. He told me I was strong. Capable. Unappreciated by my ex. That my ex didn't deserve me, that I deserved better! That I married "beneath" me (his words).
Add on to that 3 years of adoration. Ups and downs. Oh there's more to the story. Lots more and I don't want this post to be about that today. However, a portion of that "love" I described above was shown to me even on the very last days, and after, of our relationship. Imagine my absolute horror when I found out all of the above was a lie.
A BIG FAT LIE.
A lie used to lure me into his world, a world of abuse and control like no other. I was strong but I was oh-so-vulnerable.
He wore that mask the entire relationship; he wore the mask so well that I truly truly believed it. It was only when he removed that mask and began to do the most horrible and cruel things to me that I began to see who (and what) this man really was.
Stay tuned. I will write a part two of this story tomorrow.