I remember hearing my own heartbeat as I rose out of bed and stood in the shower. The water was not hot, but lukewarm. I had not been able to take a hot shower for months. The heat from the water made me ill and lately, that's all that I ever felt: ill. My stomach was constantly upset, I slept about 10 hours a night and took several naps throughout the day. I either ate huge portions of food or none at all. I woke every morning, anticipating that I would feel better. I had been in and out of the doctor's office for months and my doctor could not figure out what was wrong with me. I couldn't figure out what was causing my illnesses either, but with him by side, everything would be fine... Right?
Showers never eased the pain in my fatigued muscles. Probably because I could never take one in peace... *Bing!* .. "Oh lord," I thought to myself. "is that my phone? Again? What does he want now?" this was a frequent thought throughout my daily, morning routine. I would always step out of the shower to answer my phone, despite my being reluctant to do so. The water from my long, black hair would always drip right on to the screen of my cellphone. I secretly wished that the phone would break from water damage, because that would offer me some liberty... Right?
I always felt so silly standing in a lukewarm shower, responding to his text or e-mail. But I felt compelled to do so anyway and despite numerous attempts to ignore his message(s), the guilt always became too much for me to bear. "If I don't respond, he will just text me again and he will accuse me of not caring." Those were usually my thoughts when I contemplated just not picking up my phone. Stupid cellphone. He communicated with me via. every outlet; facebook, e-mail, text messages, phone calls. He used every outlet, every day without fail. It was exhausting. But he was amazing... Right?
"You're lucky you found me," that is one of the first things that he said to me after we had been together for a few days. Back then, I did feel lucky. He paid attention to me. He cared about me. He asked me about my day and about my feelings. He made me laugh and he gave me the best hugs that I had ever felt. His scent was sweet and mysterious.. His hands were large and despite their calluses, they used to trace secret messages across my back so perfectly. It was a trick.. Soon, I found myself at the mercy of his mouth, his temper and his desires. His words became my command, his mood became my own, his happiness was more important than mine, his desires became my wants and his needs were all that I cared about. I found myself anxious. I found myself walking on eggshells, constantly aiming to please him. "This is not me... What am I doing?" this thought was frequent too. But I didn't have time to worry. I had to work harder because if I worked harder he would finally realize that I was a good girl that would never cheat on him, as his previous girlfriend had. He would accept me then.
"Why do you wear heels? You know that I hate when you're taller than me. I won't go out with you in public if you wear those. Take them off and put on some flat shoes," I laughed. He said the same thing every time I put on a heel. Laugh. That's all that I could do. His insecurities were humorous to me and at the time, kind of flattering. He always questioned me about everything. Everything was a question and he had the answer; the right answer. We would get into arguments and my feelings would quickly be dismissed because "I misunderstood" something that he said. Or I was "immature" and therefore upset by his actions or comments. He never yelled at me. That was a trick... A trick that made me believe that he was a decent man. He never hit me or yelled at me.
If he got mad at me, he would just stop speaking to me. I felt pathetic as I would beg for his forgiveness - the phone calls, text messages and dedication of songs were never enough. I was non-existent to him for several hours. But I deserved it. I made him mad. The silent treatment was my punishment... Just as I felt compelled to answer his messages in the shower, I felt compelled to beg him for his forgiveness. I felt the urge, the lust for forgiveness. I could not stand the thought of him being angry at me. He was my daily life, my world. And I was his... Right?
Soon, I stopped wearing heels altogether. I stopped wearing dresses too. My usually fancy, fashionable wardrobe was replaced with fake ugg boots and sweatpants - a wardrobe that he approved of. I started lying to him about my workouts just so he would stop talking down to me about my "lack of activities." but the gym was not the same without my (former) best friend, who I used to work out with. I couldn't go the gym without her! But he had informed me that she was a "shitty" friend and to stop talking to her. So I did... But nothing was good enough. I began lying about where I was and what I was doing, just because I feared making him angry. He couldn't know that I had male friends because he would just accuse me of trying to make him jealous. All of my friends (girlfriends included) were "idiots, immature and not worth his company" according to him. He was right, I really did have some lousy friends. Or so I thought... My family was "crazy" he said. This was his reasoning for refusing to meet any of my family members despite the fact that I had met every single member of his. He said that he seriously considered not seeing me anymore because of my family. He called these thoughts "red flags." And according to him, there were "many red flags." these red flags made me anxious.. "Oh my God, I can't raise anymore flags... He'll dump me." these thoughts kept me so scared...
My illnesses all but disappeared. Attending class became a daily struggle. My muscles hurt, my mind hurt. I was glued to my cell phone, at all times. I even began texting while in class just so he wouldn't accuse me of not caring. My grades slipped, my relationships suffered. I began isolating myself because my time was simply dedicated to him. I couldn't see any of this, at the time, of course and reflecting on it now, I still can not fully understand how I allowed for all of it to take place...
He made me laugh. He offered me so much. He was fun, handsome, caring. His family was wonderful. This is truly what I believed while I was with him and on the rare occasion that I thought differently, he made sure to remind me of what he had to "offer me" and how "lucky" I was. I had to support him and I had to admire him. I made sure I laughed when we talked, smiled when we were silent and despite the fact that my desperate attempts at pleasing him were taking over my entire life, I felt as though it was worth it. But it was all an illusion..
"He's abusing you, Kaitee." I was paralyzed in bed, when a friend of mine told me this. My friend is highly educated and one of the most intelligent people that I know. I felt disgusted. That was the first feeling that I had felt in days... Our relationship had finally ended. It had ended before, but I really thought that it was over this time. I had finally decided to let go simply because I could no longer entertain the thought of pleasing him. I was suffering. I was completely distraught and now this? How dare this woman sit at the foot of my bed and tell me that the man that I care for so deeply, is abusing me? I thought to myself, "but he didn't hit me... Is she stupid!? He is not abusive." my friend handed me a printout. On this printout was a wheel and in this wheel were the characteristics of an abusive partner. The following characteristics were included:
-The other person places unreasonable demands on you and wants you to put everything else aside to tend to their needs.
-It could be a demand for constant attention, or a requirement that you spend all your free time with the person.
-But no matter how much you give, it's never enough.
-You are subjected to constant criticism, and you are constantly berated because you don't fulfill all this person's needs.
-Denying a person's emotional needs, especially when they feel that need the most, and done with the intent of hurting, punishing or humiliating (Examples)
-The other person may deny that certain events occurred or that certain things were said. confronts the abuser about an incident of name calling, the abuser may insist, "I never said that," "I don't know what you're talking about," etc. You know differently.
-The other person may deny your perceptions, memory and very sanity.
Withholding is another form of denying. Withholding includes refusing to listen, refusing to communicate, and emotionally withdrawing as punishment. This is sometimes called the "silent treatment."
I had enough of that list and threw it back at her. *Bing!* it was him again, I smiled. "He needs me," I thought. Much to the dismay of my friend, I answered. I talked to him for the rest of the day.
The following day, my friend returned with the list. I looked at it again and I thought that I might faint. I felt my heart beat again and my stomach grew uneasy... "How could I not have seen this? He does ALL of this and more!" I sobbed and I only left my bed to go to the restroom for the remainder of the week. I cut all contact with him that day and I have not spoken to him since.
I am no longer ill. I can take the hottest showers, my stomach is fine. I can sleep and I no longer feel fatigued. I suspect that the stress from constantly worrying about him caused my immune system to shut down. After I got over the initial shock of realizing the abuse, I stopped feeling ill. I have recovered physically, however, I have not recovered mentally. I now suffer from extreme insecurities. I am no longer a confident person and I suspect that is why I have my days where I miss him and sometimes I even wonder if he was indeed abusive. But most days, I wake up and I feel liberated. I feel free. He took a lot from me. More than I could have ever imagined. But a lot of my girlfriends have been supportive. And surprisingly enough, a majority of them have survived this type of abusive themselves.
I used to think that I was above abuse. I am 5'10'' tall. I have lived all over the world. I am a former model, I have been on TV, I have friends who are celebrities. I am intelligent, powerful and strong. No man was ever going to make me feel lesser or tell me how to feel, what to wear and who to hang out with. I was above abuse. And I would never be weak enough to put up with that type of behavior... Or so I thought.
This situation humbled me and it has shaken me to my core. I lost friends, grades and almost my very life to this man. I am currently rebuilding the life that I lost and I realized that a man does not need to hit you in order to be abusive towards you. I am telling my story on here because had I known about Emotional Abuse, I might have been able to avoid it myself. I am determined to fight back. This is just the beginning..
For more information regarding Emotional Abuse, please visit the following websites:
Kaitlyn V. Chadbourne