It’s unexpected. You had a wall up because you were trying not to let anyone hurt you again. But the persistent questions began, hidden as kindness. The queries were really there to get all the information they could to eventually use against you.
Don’t give in.
You baulk at first. Are these questions too personal? But they put you at ease, opening up themselves first. You think it’s normal. After all, if they can be so upfront and transparent, why shouldn’t you?
You give in. But you’re giving in to their lies.
And then the compliments start. It’s intense. It’s called love bombing for a reason. It doesn’t stop. Maybe you’re used to compliments. Maybe you’re not. It doesn’t matter. You’re made to feel special and loved, and cared for in a way you never felt before.
They are setting you up for the kill.
But then, it slowly begins. Something you have done is ‘wrong’. It’s not the way they want it to be. You feel bad. Perhaps you’re an empath, perhaps your nature is such that you just want to make other people happy. You don’t want to hurt them so you try and fix that ‘mistake’.
Don’t change yourself.
They follow that up with intense compliments – so you think everything is okay again. It’s not. The ‘mistakes’ continue. But this time you are told with raised voices, with being ignored, with slammed doors, with being asked to leave their presence – because you’ve done something absolutely heinous.
You’re not sure when, but the gaslighting started. You aren’t sure about your view of reality anymore. Whether they deny your reading of a situation as you ‘overreacting’, whether they invalidate your feelings and tell you that you ‘don’t deserve to feel that way’, or whether they twist your concerns around to make it seem like you are causing them pain. By the end of the conversation you are always the one apologizing.
The intense love bombing is now sharing equal space with bouts of rage. You have to do things their way, you just have to. “I will ruin you,” they say. “You might lose yourself because everything has to be my way,” and you think, “They’re joking.”
You keep going; after all, this could be your failure. Because you’ve been told for so long that it is. And oh, look, it’s that dollop of intense caring. So obviously you are the problem, because if something was wrong with them then they wouldn’t care about you. How do you know they care about you? Because they tell you, again and again and again, how grateful you should be to them, how you should be thankful for their presence in your life, so they can fix everything that’s wrong.
There’s nothing wrong with you.
You notice things. There are always inconsistencies and your gut notices them… these tiny, inconspicuous details that they have no idea you ever saw. You don’t question them because by now you are petrified of what will happen if they lose their temper. You just cannot deal with the volcano erupting again; it’s an emotional drain. There were times when you were scared… scared that you would be at the receiving end of physical pain. One time, they said, “Do you think I’m a monster? I would never hit you.”
Abuse isn’t always physical.
They push you and push you and push you to the point where you burst and then they turn around and say, “Look, you’re the crazy one.” Because you finally broke, and reacted.
You never were crazy.
One day, the final straw – the infidelity – lands in your lap. And that, somehow, is what makes you walk out – not the emotional, mental and verbal abuse, not the manipulation, not the gaslighting, not the love bombing, not the devaluation.
Whatever the reason, I’m glad you did.