I was always me, I just stopped believing it.

"He stripped away my self-worth, layer by layer until there was nothing left of my personality.  Yet I never forgot about the girl who I used to be.  She lived inside, my caged soul, waiting for the day I would set her free.  Casting her light into my dark mind, hoping that I would see, flashes of a better life, glimpses of possibility.  I was never alone because she believed in me." - Christy Ann Martine

This is how it happened.  It was not sudden or obvious.  He worked his games and manipulations right under the surface.  Changing me, controlling me, taking little pieces of who I was, until I looked in the mirror and only saw a shadow of myself.  I actually have used the words "I cannot breathe without him" and meant it.

He would bring me a gift, clothing I would never have picked for myself, but still a gift right?!  So I he changed my style.

He didn't like me working (financially dependent) so he belittled my job.  He created tension with people I worked with.  He made me feel like I was not being a good mom or doing enough at home, because I was gone, working, all day.  Until I lost it, and then I was shamed because I did.

He would say things like, "you know, a size six isn't terrible, but imagine how good you would look as a size two."  Off to the gym I went, for the third time that day.
Or "Your hair is nice, but if you had curls it would really frame your face, why don't you take this money and go to the hair salon".

Abusers are enabled by isolating their victims, so my friends were next to go.  If I had no one to tell, he could get away with everything he did.

He egged on my mental health issues, telling me I was just crazy, and everything was all in my head... like a hotel receipt that fell out of the laundry... ya know stuff you just make up like that.  Or the middle of the night text messages, from his "clients" I was always "over thinking it".  When my panic would leave me unable to get up with him, I was "lazy and a waste of a human."

Diet was of principle importance to keep me in a size two (or smaller), unless it was one of his grocery requests.  I often tried to rush home and unload groceries to avoid his bag inspections of my purchases.  Kids wanted poptarts, trashed.  I bought lowfat, because the no fat was out of stock, trashed.  Oh but that million gram sugar cereal he likes on the weekends is okay.

And of course, since I lost my job, there was no cleaning over the weekends, it needed to be done daily.  There was always something I should have done better, or more of.  He would tell me what a pig I was for things looking like they did.  Of course, in reality, if you had gone in the house you would have been hard pressed to find anything not taken care of.

When it came to the kids, I rarely got a say.  And when I stepped in for my child, I got "what I deserved, and hopefully I would remember it next time."

After every physical attack, or getting caught with other women, he was the most amazing man ever.  His promises always more grandiose than the last.  A few weeks of bliss was all this junkie needed of his drug to sign up for the chaos all over again.

The first thing out of his mouth when he was abusive, "why do you make me do this to you?"

These things are a few of so so many.  And they are things that will always be with me.  I get asked here and there, if I really think writing all of this is good for me.  I answer with an absolutely, fuck yes!  And here is why, the more I talk about it, the less hold it has over me.  Is it fun rehashing?  Of course not, but I am better now, and I know that I am safe.  My coping skills have taken me from, "this will take three days to recover from" to "yes, it was awful, but I survived, and I want to help others".

There under that damage, always was, and still is, me.  The gal who tells people what she thinks, and is honest and loyal to a fault.  The chick that knew pain when she should have been playing with Barbies (although, transformers were more my style).  The same girl that endured a lifetime of harshness and unreal hardships before the abusive relationship ever started.  I pulled myself, and my son, out of the depths of hell, slowly, surely.  The light in me refused to be extinguished even when it was so dim I didn't believe it was left there at all.

I still have triggers, reminders, set backs, and pain.  I always will.  To forget those times, would take away from who I have become.  Some days are better than others.  But my light shines, and that is enough to keep me going on the worst of days.

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Sending out an enormous amount of love to all those who need it.