If You Don’t Stand Up for Yourself, Nobody Will

| by Desarae |

It’s been a period of time, but I am still unable to overlook these memories even though I have forgiven. There is something strangely surreal about writing clinically, nonchalantly, all the depressing memories and I have to halt for a moment, as my throat tightens while trying to wrestle it down, and then swallow.

I would sit in the bathroom, with my head buried between my knees, as tears streamed down my face. I sat there, struggling with the interminable flow of questions and reservations beating inside my head; I was all at once so full of thoughts and yet so undeniably empty. I would repeatedly ask myself: why did I even allow him to mistreat me, why did I keep returning to his side after he taunted me with words like slut, whore, flirt when I failed to reply his texts within the first few minutes that was sent out, why did I even withstand the verbal abuse, constantly forgive and go back to him causing myself yet another unfathomable trouble and winter of discontent.

He was intelligent and that was what attracted me to him. Definitely he did seem perfectly fine on some occasions but most of the time he was not. You know that you once loved the person so much when all you did was place those abusive, scolding words behind you and go back to him, thinking that maybe one day he would change for the better. I was absolutely wrong. I realized, after a long two years, that he manipulated me into thinking that I was the cause for the verbal and emotional abuse.

He was completely alright and wonderful when things went his way. However, when things were up against his will, he snapped and threw spiteful words at me regardless of the situation and whether I was at fault. If I became upset at his words or argued with him, he would throw hurtful words and long passages of texts till I backed down. I gave up as I soon realized that trying to convince him otherwise was a useless proposition.

I learned to retreat to silence, and brush it off whenever he did or said something that hurt. He would bring me down and make it sound as though I was the cause of all his troubles and sadness. I remained silent, for fear of incurring his wrath. By doing so, it lifted his spirits and he was back to a happy self, while on the other end of the phone, I was in tears completely thinking that the situation was beyond my grasp and that it was indeed my problem.

It was a season in purgatory. He was so unpredictable. One moment he could be getting down on his knees and begging me not to leave him while the very next moment he would be throwing harsh words and degrading me. However much I tried to salvage the situation, to him, I would always be wrong or not good enough or fast enough and that just triggered more tirades.

Regardless of the situation I was in, be it hanging out with my girl friends, or having lectures in school, he would call me a slut, whore, thinking that I was flirting behind his back. It would be from hours to days of scolding with more than a hundred messages flooding in within a short span of thirty minutes. As ridiculous as it sounds, he would threaten to shame me in front of my friends or to ‘tell my parents’. But I believed every single word he said.

All the feelings inside me that were kept locked up came screaming out, and I realized that I could no longer suppress it and could no longer take it. I made a brief decision, the decision to leave him once and for all. It was a demanding decision. As usual he begged for forgiveness and the very next second he realized that pleading was futile, he hurled harsh words and again, tried to bring me down to a nobody, hoping that I would once again retreat to silence. But I did not. I was determined to break free from this vicious cycle of verbal and emotional abuse, so I stood firm, for once, on my stand to end the toxic relationship. He was very persistent with the cycle of incessantly sending long messages to apologize followed by those nasty words. He eventually stopped texting after months.

The recovery was a tough and long. I had entirely failed to recall what it was like to be treated normally after being overruled and ridiculed. I was at a loss and depressed. It felt like I was being challenged with too many changes too soon. There were many times that I felt like hiding back in my shell so that I did not have to face them all. Many tears have been wasted, but I definitely did not regret the decision made at that point in time.

It’s been quite a period of time, and I do think of him. I don’t hope for any apologies whatsoever, but instead all I wish for is that he won’t do the same thing again to others. However hard I try to leave these memories behind me, it will forever be a part of me. It will always be there to remind me to stand up for myself and to be strong. I hope that people will get some inspiration and support from discovering that not only is it possible to go on to lead a happy and normal life, but that you can actually turn all that misery into something positive.

If you don’t stand up for yourself, nobody will.

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