Sunday, February 5, 2012

Trapped No More

The following story is a verity, not balderdash. The last several months I spent with my ex-boyfriend, Chris, were miserable. On the one hand, I craved his companionship and attention. I loved having someone to go places with, a pal to hang around with who liked to do mundane shit like going to Target together, to hold hands with and walk around the Lake. Someone to cuddle and watch Doctor Who with. Some place to go that wasn't home a few times a week where he admittedly did keep my favorite seltzer water or whatever I was drinking (non-alcoholic, of course) at the time, and snacks I liked. Someone who would, by virtue of him being unemployed at the time, could accompany me for tests and procedures at the hospital, though it wasn't *his* face I wanted to see when I woke up from anesthesia. When I was a "good girl," I was richly rewarded materialistically. When I was, in his opinion, a "bad girl," I was punished. Badly.

On the other hand, I was tired of being one of many women in his life, tired of his verbal abuse, his blaming me for any emotional issues I'd had before I became sober, which he took credit for, or before I was medicated for bipolar, when he said I was literally acting "crazy," emotional mindfucking, massive control issues, and physical and sexual abuse and manipulation. I felt like I was being used. Rather, I *knew* I was being used, yet I kept going back. I can't say why I put up with it all as long as I did, but it was obvious to literally everyone else I knew that I HAD to get out of that relationship. The first person who told me to get out was Craig when I told Craig that Chris had slapped me in the face. Yet, I couldn't break away. Intellectually, I knew it was grossly unhealthy. So did Chris. But he kept me strung along as long as he could, which I can only chalk up to the fact that he had a steady supply of getting laid whenever he wanted, which in my psychological opinion, was something *he* was addicted to.

If you look at pictures of the two of us together for the last year of our relationship, we both look uncomfortable. I look apprehensive and he looks obligatory and distant. We didn't look like a couple in love, because, as per a previous blog, Chris said that never was "in love" with me.

I had a fervent hope that he'd change his mind, change his ways, and treat me the way I deserved to be treated and would decide to love only me. I was stupid enough to want to marry the guy. I prayed that he'd leave the other women behind (all of whom I knew about without even having to ask him, and he eventually did tell me). He tried dating other women on the nights he wasn't with me, but after a while, that "wasn't working" for him anymore. I was becoming a dating liability to him, not a loved one.

I remember one memorable night out to dinner when he told me he wanted to see this particular woman on a regular basis, and that they were close to being "in a relationship." (That poor, clueless woman.) I asked what that meant for me, where I stood. "Am I still your best girl?" I asked Chris. And the answer was no. I looked up at him with hollow eyes and what he described, if memory serves, the saddest look on my face he'd ever seen. Even with that reality facing me, I wasn't ready to let go. Even with everything he was putting me through--mentally and physically (I was frequently hospitalized for pancreatitis and GI issues that several doctors believe was my body's response to the abuse I was enduring), I still wanted to be his girlfriend. But I wasn't anymore. I was no longer the most important person in his life. I'd been replaced, abruptly and rudely.

At that point, I'd decided I'd had enough of it all. When I was in the hospital and Aliya (a friend who's a psychiatrist) and her cousin (who's also a doctor), came to visit me, we talked about me finding the strength to walk away from Chris for good, for cutting him and his toxicity out of my life. I wasn't sure I could do it. Aliya knew what Chris had done to me and offered practical advice that was similar if not equal to what other friends and family had told me, but she finally got through to me. Not sure why other than to attribute it to divine intervention. (She had, after all, given me 2 get-well gifts: a Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Awareness hoodie that said "Kindness rocks" on it and a mug that said "With God, all things are possible.")

Soon thereafter, I packed up what I had left at Chris' house (which wasn't much, some clothes, and then he packed that scary box full of unmentionables in polite conversation that he wanted me to keep, that I mentioned in a previous blog, that I had to have a friend dispose of for me, because it sat in my truck for 4 months and I was afraid to even touch it) and we parted company for the last time some time in March or April of 2011, I don't even remember. With lofty ambition to "stay friends," I finally saw the reality of what kind of man he truly is, and wanted nothing to do with him. Nasty, malicious emails were being exchanged. He'd been nitpicking my personal life, asking me questions about my separation and divorce from Craig, and generally harassing me.

I started telling my doctors, closest friends and family what he was doing to me, which is old news to those of you who read my blog regularly, which was when I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result by my psychiatrist and primary care physician, with the help of my psychotherapist.

Why do I drudge this story out of the archives yet again? Because I heard a song on Pandora today. A Bruce Springsteen song that reminded me of the latter part of my relationship with Chris, for about the last year and a half we were together, after he "broke up" with me and told me he wanted to date other women. It's a rather rare song, that I first heard, of all places, on the "We Are The World" album from 1985. It's called "Trapped." It conveys exactly how I felt with Chris all that time. Hearing this song gave me literal chills. I think it's a valid song for anyone who finds herself (or himself) in an abusive relationship.

Today, I'm free. I got away and I'm lucky. I no longer have bite marks and bruises and burns all over my body. He had taken a shitload of pictures of me, that I wanted put on a disc and sent to me, and erased from his computer forever. He claimed that his computer at the apartment in the Loop crashed during a storm and the hard drive fried and he couldn't retrieve the pictures. I'm not sure I believe him, for he's a photo collector. It sickens me that he could verily still have hundreds of photographs of me in his possession. That's one of his idiosyncracies, to put it nicely.

I'm learning not to be so scared of Chris and retaliation and that he'll harm me ever again. The PTSD is still there; it doesn't just go away. I still have no desire to date anyone and am afraid of strange men I don't know. At least the list of men I'll allow to hug me is expanding, though I have virtually no desire to be intimate with anyone at this point. I am too damaged. Hopefully, someday that'll change and I'll be capable of being in an actually healthy relationship with a man. Not in the foreseeable future, though. Thanks, Chris.

Bruce Springsteen

Well it seems like I'm caught up in your trap again
And it seems like I'll be wearin' the same ol' chains
Good will conquer evil and the truth will set you free
Then I know someday I'll find the key
Then I know somewhere I'll find the key
Well it seem like I've been playin' the game way too long
And it seems the game I played has made you strong
Well when the game is over, I won't walk out a loser
And I know that I'll walk out of here again
And I know that someday I'll walk out of here again

But now I'm trapped...oh yeah!
Trapped...oh yeah yeah!
Trapped...oh yeah!
Trapped...oh yeah!

Now it seems like I've been sleepin' in your bed too long
And it seems like you've been meanin' to do me harm
But I'll teach my eyes to see beyond these walls in front of me
And someday I'll walk out of here again
Yeah I know someday I'll walk out of here again

Well it seem like I've been playin' the game way too long
And it seems the game I played has made you strong

Because I'm trapped...oh yeah!
Trapped...oh yeah yeah!
Trapped...oh yeah yeah!
Trapped...oh yeah!

I'm trapped...oh yeah yeah!
Trapped...oh yeah yeah
Trapped...oh yeahhhhhh
Trapped....oh yeahhhh
I'm trapped.

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