I’m never going to give up: Because I’m a woman and because I can (be dangerous)
It isn’t an easy thing realizing that you’ve been taken advantage of by someone you love.
Some people say nice people get used all the time because they’re nice, and they let it happen. They believe the best in people.
Maybe. But for me it goes far deeper than that.
As a girl I was manipulated from the age of four onward. It was a form of bullying that taught me I was never enough. Whatever I did, whoever I was it was never good enough. I was always wrong somehow. Either too much or too little.
Growing up with that taught me to be a chameleon to survive. Because when you’re four you still need things. You can’t look after yourself, you need other people, people who are supposed to love and care for you, to feed you, clothe you, take you to the doctor, nurse you when you’re sick. Yes, you are caught, beholden.
So how do you ensure that someone who abuses you and devalues you takes care of you? Well, at first you capitulate. You give in. You placate them. When they’re in the room you become what they seem to want you to be at that moment.
This never came naturally to me. I have a very strong personality. And my willfulness often came out. And I paid for it.
But I did often give in to survive. To be fed and have clothes I liked and toys to play with. To get some love, sometimes.
It sounds pretty sad writing it now. And I often wonder how the four-year-old me handled it. I always knew it was wrong, the way I was being treated. But at the same time that little me felt responsible for the abuse too.
So fast forward to me in my forties and looking back on my relationships, I see the pattern of being taken advantage of very clearly. Of being used and manipulated for other people’s lives. And yes, I was a woman when I “let” it happen, but I was programmed from a young age to believe I would never be worthy.
For me, my adult years have been stepping stones to healing my abuser’s transgressions.
To learning that I do have choices and I can say No!
That’s the really big one. I can say No!
And I’ve really only just fully learned that one very recently. I’ve only really had the strength to say No! in the last few months and mean it and act on it.
I looked into the face of someone I loved, someone who I thought loved me, and said, “You can’t talk to me this way. It’s not acceptable. You don’t know what you’re talking about and have no right to judge me the way you are right now.”
And the look on their face was priceless. They were stunned. Of course that didn’t stop them from belittling me further, but it was at that moment that I knew it was over. That I had to leave.
And I did. That’s THE most important part. The next morning I packed up my essentials, my animals and I left.
It was very frightening. The person blamed me for giving up. Not seeing our relationship through. I left anyway. And I never went back.
And that is how I ended up here. In this apartment on my own, writing this right now.
And I realize how important this is for me to write about. For me to talk about. For me to share. Because I’m sure I’m not the only one. Abuse is in the media a lot these days. Harvey Weinstein and the countless number of women he preyed upon over the years. And this morning, Roman Polanski was accused of sexually assaulting a ten-year-old girl in 1975, and this is the fifth such accusation made against him.
It happens all the time. I suppose I could list all the people who’ve abused me over the years. Who’ve unloaded their shit onto me and thought I should take it.
But that’s not why I’m here. I know who they are, and they know who they are.
No, I’m here now to document my journey. To let people know it’s been very hard and totally worth it.
And to let people know that things can and do get better. It happens in moments, in situations, gradually over time, but it does happen.
No one needs to ever give up on themselves.