This is going to be a tough read, and it’s been a tough write. I’ll let you know ahead of time that this post talks about physical, mental and sexual abuse. It could very well be triggering.
Rebuilding healthy ideas about relationships is incredibly difficult after you’ve been through an abusive one (or more). Understanding a relationship that’s good for you is really hard too. It’s like trying to breath at the top of a mountain when you’ve lived your whole life in an ocean level swamp.
I have a history of abusive relationships. I won’t focus on the majority of them though, rather contrasting the worst (my last relationship) with the best (my current relationship) and why it’s so damn strange.
See, I spent almost two years in my most recent abusive relationship. The things that I suffered included rape, physical assault, gas lighting, physical restraint, and isolation. She destroyed my world, and my views on relationships.
It’s weird, getting into a healthy relationship after having been in such an abusive one. My husband, R, treats me well, always makes sure to leave me an exit, has never harmed me in any way, and he has never fucked with my head. I also knew him for years before we got together.
The relationship with R still weirds me out, specifically because it’s good. I’ve been with him for a little over four years now. My escape from her will be marked at five years in February. He hasn’t hit me yet, and that spooks me almost more than if it had happen. I wait for it, not like I used too, it’s definitely better, but I still think about it sometimes, still wait for him to snap, and hit me, or beat the shit out of me or something. The anticipation stresses me out, even though…
I absolutely know that he would never do that under any circumstance.
I’ve come to expect it from relationships. “Person I’m dating” is synonymous with “person who hurts me”… in far too many ways. I try not to think like that, and like I said, I’m getting better, but it was so engrained, that it’s been impossible to get rid of.
There’s also the feeling of necessity and “what should be.” To me, what should be is:
– Getting in trouble when I express my opinion
– Getting hurt if I question any abuse
– Getting held down or blocked from escape in arguments
– Not getting to see my family or friends
– Not having a choice in when I have sex
When it didn’t happen in the first six months of my relationship with R, it became agonizingly stressful. The anticipation was almost too much to bear. Though I’d known him for years. Though he chased my ex out of the state for me, because she had been abusive, I still expected it, I waited in stressed and terrifying anticipation that, now that we were in a relationship, he would turn into what a partner should be, based on my past experiences. It never did happen, and it never has happened. It’s not terrifying, and mostly not stressful anymore, but the past has left it’s mark on the present.
I don’t talk to R like I used to, and holy shit do I miss those conversations. I’m not entirely certain all the reasons, but I do know that part of it is the what should be’s. If I tell him my fears, I give him ammo to use against me, and he will, because that’s what should be. If I share my successes, he will tear them down like shreds of hell confetti, then subsequently throw my inevitable failure in my face, because that’s what should be. If I get excitable about what I’m saying, I’ll be admonished as being childish, and if I get depressed about something, I just need to quit whining. Because that’s how it should be.
I know this to be wrong, I’m absolutely certain of it, and yet, there it lurks, always in the background, always hiding, eroding our communication.
It took about six months of dating before we had sex, and it was an intimidating first encounter. He took it very slowly, he continually asked if I was okay, and if I wanted to do it. He was caring and reassuring, and while it was wanted, I was afraid.
The first time I was with her was consensual, in fact it was for the first month or so it was consensual, but see… I’m trans, I don’t always enjoy sex, and sometimes I will go long stretches really not wanting to have sex. My dysphoria is just way too bad. This is where I first got into trouble with her.
I won’t go into the details here, but for her own reasons, she decided that we had to continue to have sex, and I really had no choice in it, so, for the next year and a half, that’s what we did. When she wanted it, regardless of how I felt. After the first couple of non-consensual times, I never wanted to do anything with her again. I never consented again, and it never mattered.
Flash forward to now. Sometimes, when I hit a low point in my dysphoria, or just libido in general, I start getting scared. I’m afraid that R is going to want to have sex, and he won’t take into consideration if I will or not, because that’s how it should be. It’s really hard to tell him I don’t want to have sex if he wants it, and sometimes (by no fault of his) I feel obligated, since I typically have a libido that rivals the combined sex rate of at least 20 people. So, when that disappears, I feel like it should be expected, because that’s what I normally do. This has lead to… issues.
See… I used to be able to clearly define when I wanted sex and when I didn’t. I had been physically abused by other partners, but I’d never been raped before. After the time with my ex, it’s changed that. I can’t clearly define myself, and, it doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes I say yes when what I want is to scream is no… because, that’s how it’s supposed to be right?
I explode in arguments, and I strike where it hurts. It’s not that I hadn’t done that before, but it got a lot worse after her. It was the best defense I had. If I struck back hard with my words, she would stay away from me for a little while. I’d get some respite. It wasn’t much, but it was something, and unfortunately, that defense mechanism carried over to this relationship. I’m getting better, slowly but surely, but… I’ve hurt him so many times, trying to defend myself from something that’s not there, and I feel horrible.
I hate thinking like that, I hate the supposed to be’s, and on a logical level, I absolutely know that they are incorrect, but they still won’t go away. I’m getting better at it, but it still won’t go away. I know the way I act because of those supposed to be’s ends up hurting him. I know I shouldn’t say yes when I mean no. I know I shouldn’t be afraid of him hitting me. I know I shouldn’t use my words as weapons toward him. I fucking know this and yet I can’t get it out of my head.
She still controls me, through my reactions in relationships, even though I haven’t heard or seen her in almost 5 years and it scares me.
New relationships are hard. Healthy relationships after abusive ones are harder. It doesn’t feel right, especially at first. It’s hard not to run from it, because all these bad things aren’t happening, and they are supposed to. That’s what my past says. Healthy relationships are new, strange and uncomfortable. I’m not used to it. My “area of comfort” so to speak, is an abusive relationship. That’s not to say that I want to be in another one, but it is really hard to stay out of one, because a healthy relationship is outside of my comfort zone. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true.
I’m getting better, but it’s taken a lot of work, and I don’t know if it will ever go completely away.
Now that I’ve made you sad, I really truly hope you have a beautiful day sunshine. Thank you for reading.