Guest Post: Existing

December 4, 2012 at 7:24 am | Posted in Life and Living, Relationship Woes | 2 Comments
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Something I’ve learned while growing up that I didn’t expect was seeing how we adapt to situations, simply to survive.  These situations may not be violent, but they are wrong just the same, and somehow we sometimes feel ashamed and fearful to talk about them, to confront them, and so we deny them or hide from them.  What follows is the condensed story from a dear friend of mine — a survivor of domestic violence.  I hope that her words, her courage to come forward, inspires others to recognize mistreatment and find a way to come back to life.

Existing, that’s what I was doing.  I existed.  I wasn’t living.  Living would mean livelihood, being alive.  I only existed.  Inside I was dead.  I was a robot.  I had no opinion, no confidence, no voice.  For six years I existed in an abusive relationship.  They say bruises heal but words scar forever.  I could always survive the slap, the choke, the push, the hair pull.  Your body heals, you can survive that.  The name calling, the put downs, that has stuck.  If you’re called a bad mother one too many times, you start believing it.  If you’re told you talk too loud, you start quieting down.  When you’ve been told you’re helpless and worthless, your self-esteem starts to collapse.  Until one day you’re in hell, just existing.

In therapy I learned the idiom walking on eggshells.  This is a popular phrase in domestic violence, it sums up how the victim lives.  I have pictured myself literally walking on eggshells before.  I can see my face while I’m trying this impossible task.  My eyes are wide and lips are pursed.  I’m scared and nervous, because I don’t want to mess up, or the eggs will explode.  It’s like when I used to come home from work.  My stomach turned to knots.  My heart would start to pound.  I would open the door and begin to walk on eggshells.  I was careful about what to say.  An easy conversation like, what’s for dinner, could turn into cracking the eggs.  Daring to ask about a past due bill has resulted in him choking me, pushing me to the floor, and kicking me.  I was forced to walk on eggshells being fearful of the explosions.  I was trained never to raise my voice and ask him questions politely.  But, walking on eggshells is damn near impossible, this isn’t a way of life.  The eggs will always explode.

Only existing was the easy part, I adapted to it.  The hard part was when I left him and was forced to live again, and this time live on my own.   Live without someone telling me what to do, how to act, and supporting my children and me, that was the challenge.  Even though he was gone, I still walked on eggshells for quite some time.  The eggs don’t go away that fast.  After being abused for years you keep walking on those eggshells, at work, at a bar, at a restaurant, in fear that a man may snap at you again and an egg will break.  These anxious feelings take time to go away.  Thankfully, with lots of therapy, I’ve been able to speak up a little more.  Now, I’m at a point where I am just walking.  I’m no longer walking on egg shells.  I guess you can say I’m alive.  I just don’t exist.  No longer a robot, I speak, probably way too much, I laugh, I smile, I get angry and I don’t internalize everything.  Because I’m not scared of cracking eggs anymore, my body healed and slowly my mind has too.

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  1. Men who are this abusive and disgustingly disrespectful to women usually either had no mother or seriously disliked her growing up. To help weed these men out, I’d probably find a Mama’s boy a refreshing change. A break even. Congratulations not only on being a survivor, but not being a bitter one. Domestic abusers get off on their power. Not defining yourself by this experience is important…he’s obviously not worthy of that.

  2. Inspiring post. Something I can attest to, but without as much violence. The scariest thing to do, is to make the first step (to leave) to the rest of your life. Thank you for sharing your words and your story. You are a magnificent person.


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