To the women who had my back,
I miss laughing with you, dancing with you, sharing secrets with you, growing with you. I watch the endless news come in of the business ventures, engagements, births, moves, triumphs… And I wish I was there. But when life bulldozed by, and everyone kept striding forward all those years ago, I was held back by a force so strong it changed my life. It changed all I could imagine. And it changed me.
At the time it didn’t dawn on me that anything was wrong. I had been in a strange place for a while and so when he came along and made promises he vowed to keep, I fell. Hard. I couldn’t see that things weren’t right. And I certainly couldn’t admit that I had become one of ‘them’. Someone weak, with no voice or clear vision. Not me. I was strong willed, and intelligent and aware of the signs…
It took me two years of entrapment and another of reflection to finally admit that I was a survivor of a domestic abuser. I had allowed myself to continually be emotionally, psychologically, and occasionally (dare I admit to it) physically abused. Yet I ignored it and excused it. I ignored the voice in the back of my mind questioning what I had got myself in. I ignored the deafening silence and void I found when looked beyond the walls of that relationship. It all sounds a little cliché, doesn’t it?
For over two years I was spat at, sworn at, used for money, manipulated, made to cancel plans, pushed around, had things thrown at me, was locked in, trapped, shouted at, insulted and ridiculed. And to this day I cannot tell you why I allowed it. It didn’t happen all at once. At first he was sorry. But the warning signs soon became the norm and the excuses kept rolling in. There is no way to explain the feeling, the dependency and the fear of it all.
I never had the strength to leave for my own wellbeing. But when the news that it wasn’t just me anymore and I had my baby boy to consider too, the glaring reality of what I had become and what I was a part of became too much to ignore or excuse anymore.
Almost 9 years later and my life is transformed.
I am in a happy and LOVING relationship. I have two wonderful children. A great home and am forever growing and ploughing forward in a career I love. My life is great! Genuinely.
Yet I can’t ignore this gaping hole where you used to be.
The women I loved and cherished and called at 3 in the morning for a drunken natter! It is one thing recovering from a relationship of domestic abuse but it is another to recover the friendships that were lost along the way.
It wasn’t that you turned your back on me. I hold my hands up there. I turned my back on you. And I know that there are questions. You didn’t deserve my silence or excuses. I realise that now. I was made to feel that you didn’t have my best interests at heart, that you were just trying to cause problems, that you didn’t truly want me around, that a small misunderstanding warranted the end of valued friendship. A handful of friends knew my abuser well. You didn’t know of course. You had no idea. But I couldn’t stand any reminders of what I had been a part of. I couldn’t be near anyone with a connection to him anymore. And when things were finally over, I was too ashamed to explain what really happened. And so, I lost you too.
I love the friends I do have furiously. They don’t know the whole truth about what happened; only that he made me miserable and things were dire. They don’t push; they are there and for that I am eternally and incredibly grateful. So I have moved through life, with them by my side, and immersed myself in my family and tried to ignore the loneliness that often comes knocking at my door. But lockdown made it impossible and the door has fallen through.
As the news and the updates and the statuses roll in, I can’t help but miss the women who I was made to leave behind; the school friends, dancing queens and university gems. There have been glimmers of rekindling. But nothing like it was. And so I want you to know that I am sorry.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wish things were different; that I don’t miss the friendship we had. I will forever be here, in the background, routing and cheering for you. And I write this in the hope that eventually I can do that stood by your side.