It is a difficult thing to believe with every fiber of your being that you are another person’s property, and not knowing how, if it is even possible, to escape the amount of control they hold above your head is enough to drive anyone crazy. For a good two years I was in a sort of relationship with a guy who claimed he loved me, but in retrospect it appears as if he liked the idea of what I could be or maybe even the way I did things for him (like buying him the new iPod he wanted or making a lavish dinner for him when he got off work every night even though it meant he had to drive to my house…and believe me, he complained about that drive every chance he got, but didn’t bat an eye when I had to drive the thirty-five miles in snow, rain, or at one in the morning.) it wore me down giving ten-fold of what I received, but I could never even hint at the fact without suffering some sort of major repercussion that typically ended with everything being my fault or the idea of his suicide floating about.
In attempt to keep the peace with him, I would do what he asked of me and “cut him some slack because he is only human” when he was late for church every Sunday, and basically everywhere we went. I would accept the hurtful and hate filled treatment his family showed towards me when, if even, they acknowledged my existence at all; crying myself to sleep in silence every night as I attempted to determine why I was so disliked or why I couldn’t just be accepted. When he discovered my hurt, he didn’t empathize with anything I felt. Instead he would stand up for them and justify what they did, claiming if I only did this or perhaps if I said more they would come to accept me. Everything was always my fault, even when it clearly shouldn’t have been, for how could I control how others treated me? But instead of comforting me and taking my side, he sided against me and told me exactly what I needed to change if I wanted his family’s acceptance in the slightest.
He would attempt with all his power to mold and shape me into exactly what he wanted, but being the strong-willed and stubborn girl I am, it didn’t work. Instead it erased my identity to the outside world and eventually myself as I became nothing at all. I was lifeless, for surely it hurt less when they hated me for being nothing than having them hate me for being myself. I lost who I was to his control, and whenever the opportunity presented itself for him to shape me according to his desires he would cease the moment with little thought or hesitation.
Like the way I dressed. He played in an orchestra and I was excited to support him for the very first time ever hearing him perform in concert. I drove myself to the concert an hour away and walked in alone as I wasn’t welcome to join his family that day. I was just the annoying girl who tagged along, and despite their efforts they couldn’t seem to shake me. Clothed in a new black and white sweater dress that twirled ever-so-perfectly, I walked in feeling confident and beautiful as I strolled down the aisle and looked for someone to sit with. Thankfully, I spotted a friend in the crowd, because I didn’t want to join his family either, or be ignored by them, at that moment. I sat down beside him and we enjoyed the concert together. Free the show, I met up with my performer boyfriend to congratulate him, and I was surprised to see the way he looked at me; did I do something wrong again? He was silent for a while, until finally he broke the silence when we both got in my car and headed towards home. “What are you wearing? I thought you didn’t wear things like that?it is way too low-cut, and that is too short to even be acceptable! The sweater dress ended at my knee, and the neckline was not even cut low enough to show cleavage. The sleeves ended at the elbow, and I saw nothing wrong with the dress. “Who are you even wearing that for? I can’t even believe you bought that, because you told me that you dressed modestly.” My sense of confidence and beauty the dress brought me moments before faded in an instant, instead making me feel ashamed and dirty for what I wore. “I’m sorry, I just really liked it… I didn’t think there as nothing wrong with it, and neither did my mom when I showed her….” I was silent the rest of the drive home, my already low self-esteem dwindling down to E. I wore pants all summer long and I wasn’t allowed to wear sleeveless shirts. I had to wear yoga pants under my dresses, and heaven forbid if I wore yoga pants as actual pants. Jeans with holes? No way in hell. Heels or any shoe beyond confers or sandals? Nope, forget it. I was his Barbie in essence, dressing me only in what he thought appropriate.
Or how about my weight? We joined a group of friends on a trip to a hot springs pool last summer, and thankfully I had a swimsuit that met his approval. We were soaking in the hot pool as we watched a couple of friends doing an obstacle course in the cooler pool next to us. “Why don’t you go join them?” He asked. I looked down and quietly said, “I don’t really want to. Plus, I like staying in the water when I am in my bathing suit because I feel fat sometimes. And this top isn’t the best for obstacle courses…” He laughed at me and smugly remarked, “well since you’re so fat, why don’t you just stop eating?” He then tried to force me out there, so I swam over to a friend who I knew would stand up for me should he try something. He couldn’t figure out why I wouldn’t talk to him the rest of that trip, and I can’t count the times he asked me how much I weighed. He was always questioning if I was heavier than him or not,and he asked on a weekly basis. I am about 135 lbs and 5’6″; is that too heavy for you? I’m sorry you have such issues with my body…I wish you’d look at my heart. I struggle enough with my appearance, please don’t tear me down further.
And what I ate was a region he wanted to control, forcing me to eat things I didn’t like and change what I did like. Sushi was where I drew the line, no boy did that tick him off.
To what entertainment I was allowed to watch or read, he always had an extremely strong opinion about everything. I have morals; I don’t indulge in things I find inappropriate. I don’t usually watch anything beyond PG-13 and I am 21 years old. But everything had to be approved by him and he always had a lecture to follow. A majority of my favorite books, movies, and shows were mindless, worthless, and a foolish waste of time to him while he enjoyed movies in black and white.
Or what I had to do to be worth something, because I didn’t go to college. He said I had such potential and could be so great, I just had absolutely no drive to get me anywhere in life, a stats why I was trying to marry him to get a free ride. That was also the reason his parents hated me; I never went to college. Well here’s a news flash: college doesn’t make you someone or something. No, it’s more than that. You make yourself something, and you can be great with or without college as I have seen it many times first hand. I wanted to go to college and I was planning to right out of high school, but things fell through. Weeks before classes started, I dropped out because I feared for my safety when my RA sexually harassed me via text and social media. He claimed he’d let himself in my room at night and lay beside me as I sleep, and I better be wearing nothing more than underwear because he surely wouldn’t be clothed. He asked me for pictures, thankfully I hated myself too much to even think about taking one. He wanted to know things no RA would want to know, and I will leave it t that. He sent many pictures that I never opened, as I was too afraid to see what was inside. The next two years, I attempted to line things up for school but the finances always fell through. I tried to move two thousand miles away to follow my boyfriend to college, and when I couldn’t figure out the finances in time he blew his lid and broke up with me in a library in Lubbock, TX. We were on a tri helping with camp our youth group attended ever summer. Who was there to pick up my broken heart? None other than his best friend who happened to be my best friend as well. My “boyfriend” walked around alleys and ghettos looking to get shot or arrested, and slept on a bench at the edge of the LCU campus that night.
To the people I was allowed to see, he always needed control. His friends, for a while, invited me places all the time until he told them that no one except him could invite me places. If I spoke to none, he had to listen and add his opinion. If I received a text, he wanted to read it and compose my reply. While he was two thousand miles away, we broke up several times and I hung out with my best friend Josh. He scolded me excessively during a coffee and lunch meeting, so I asked if I could text him after I was done as I felt I was being rude. He agreed and the hours passed as Josh and I became lost in conversation. When I didn’t answer his call, he instead called Josh in an uproar as he told Josh to put me on the phone. He yelled at me for ten minutes, instructed me to put Josh back on the line, then had a word with Josh to express his disgust with the two of us. I never felt so embarrassed and humiliated in my life as I continually apologized to Josh for Patrick’s behavior. Another time we attended a concert and Patrick drew a crowd s he scolded me loudly in front of everyone because I wanted fries but lost my spot in line when I went to follow him to another area of the park. He also yelled at me earlier for not following him close enough, so I didn’t know how to please him. All the while, I was being watched from a distance by none other than Josh who was always ready to pick me up when I needed him. So I stayed with him the remainder of the afternoon, and that night I got rebuked for agreeing to hold Josh’s stuff when Josh ran to meet his brother, because Patrick was offended his best friend asked me rather than him.
There were even times he would attempt to control the simplest thoughts ad opinions I had. Even the silliest remarks I’d make. One day we were walking around a college campus and I saw a red hammock strung in a tree that I’d recognize anywhere. “Look, it’s Josh! Let’s go say hi!” I suggested to which he reluctantly agreed. We stayed and talked for a bit when I mentioned I had always wanted a hammock. Patrick and I then promised we’d get each other a hammock for our birthdays. He got his, but I never received mine, needles to say, so I bought my own. When Josh heard I had never been in hammock, he jumped out and offered his for me to try. Being substantially shorter than he is, I couldn’t pull myself into the hammock so Josh gave me a hand. He then ran off to grab a drink and told Patrick and I to wait there. As I lay in the hammock rocking back and forth in the slight breeze, the wind blew part of the hammock over my face. Thinking I was speaking in my head I softly said, “Mmm, this hammock smells really good…” And then removed it from my face. In an angry tone, I heard Patrick’s response and realized I had spoken that thought aloud. “What does it smell like, because with it being Josh’s hammock, I assume it smells like him! Why would you say that, let alone even think he smells good!?!” He then swung the hammock hard and fast, nearly flipping me out of the hammock in his anger. The smallest thing ignited his envy.
In any way that presented itself, his goal was to control me. It was when he said I could no longer be friends with the one friend that had always been there for me, Josh, that I knew I was over it. That was the last straw, and I had had enough of everything he did and said. I was tired of being controlled by him, and I was tired of being owned by him. I left him that day and never looked back. It was hard, but mostly because of the way he said I was hurting him. Regardless of all the ways he hurt me, it still hurt my heart to know I was inflicting some sort of pain on my abuser. But I couldn’t keep losing myself to him. I couldn’t keep dying on the inside and cutting him slack for his abuse. And if you are In that place I want you to know that you are strong enough to get out. You don’t need or deserve the drawn they are dealing you. It may be scary but it is worth it. I stayed mainly because I didn’t want to be alone and I believed I was getting what I deserved and there was nothing better for me. But I was wrong, because these months I have been free have been the happiest months in years,. Yes it was hard at first, but I have never felt so alive, so free, and so myself. I am not alone, for I still have friends, family, and the Almighty Gos woo pulled me through my darkest days. I want to hear from you, and reach out if you need it. There is a way out, you have a choice and you deserve so much better, because controlling someone….well, honey, that’s just not love.