I just Can’t Do This

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

It has taken years for me to come to terms with the fact, I have been emotionally abused. I am now in a place where I can talk about it. In my past, I had relationships that were on the surface wonderful and deep at the core, not good. Friendships with women and relationships with men who used me for what I could do for them. Many of us have experienced the I did this for you now what are you going to do for me mentality from others we thought cared for us but surprise! They liked themselves more. It wasn’t apparent at the start of the relationships. My past relationships were filled with things I did not really see as abuse. I thought it was just how I had to deal with the other person’s personality. I spent my days feeling insulted and wounded, never measuring up, walking on eggshells. The behavior of the other person was sometimes subtle and often manipulative.

I experienced from my spouses (yes, I have had more than one) and my so-called, best girlfriends: accusations, verbal abuse, name-calling, criticisms, and gaslighting. Gaslighting is a cleaver term, new to me, that means to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. Over time, these experiences eroded my sense of self so much that I could no longer see who I really was and to the point that I agreed with them. Maybe I was self-centered, fat and inconsiderate. I was accustomed to living with a certain amount of emotional abuse, so it did not occur to me that I have a right to be loved and treated with respect, especially by the people who claimed to love me the most. Nor did I think that maybe they were wrong.

I was one of the lucky ones. I got out.

Now, years later, I am in a truly loving relationship. I have leftover slime in my head from the past. In my marriage, a normal and healthy one, I am looking for the “but…” that never comes. He loves me but… He wants me but…The conditions that come with his goodness do not exist. He loves me unconditionally. He does not just say the words he shows me with actions. I have trouble when my husband says something sweet or does something loving. My scarred self-esteem can’t handle all the good. It breaks my brain.

Sometimes it is a simple as, “Hey, I think you are beautiful.” I look at him like he has spontaneously begun speaking in an alien language. I am overweight and according to my doctor, obese. That is the word she used in a language I understand. Leftover physical damage from years of stress eating. When he said that I am beautiful, my brain says “but…” Then I say to him, “No. I have ugly flabby squishy bits.” He responds with, “I love your ugly flabby squishy bits. You are beautiful.” I can’t get my head around the fact that he loves me, all of me, just the way I am.

I just can’t….

Often a brain break is followed by tears or astonishment. I am certainly speechless. He doesn’t do these things to brag later to his friends, “Look what I did.” Actually, he never talks about it. Sometimes even to me. It has taken me years to accept the damage of the past. It took my husband a matter of moments to see it and begin to help me heal it.

I have read articles that say there is no such thing as unconditional love. I would have agreed with that statement once. Now having lived it, I understand it is real.

Love, true love only exists without conditions.

Love is freedom. It is not binding your loved one in expectations that they may or may not reach. Give them the freedom to be themselves. Love does not judge. Period. Love every unique thing about your person, tell them, show them and do it for no other reason except because you love them.

If you put any conditions on your love then it is a contract, not love. Marriage vows are a contract, the love behind them is not. Do not confuse the two. Love is a choice without perimeters.

Every time my husband breaks my brain I wonder if I will ever get used to the way he loves me. I hope not. I do not ever want to take his unconditional love for granted.

Believe in love. You deserve it.

~Lori O’Gara

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