return by claycameras

return

I remember standing in the kitchen at Idlewood, in the dark, cowering on the other side of the island. I remember the way you yelled, the anger in your eyes, the fear I felt. I don’t remember what started the fight - taking a shower, going to bed, some dumb comment - but I know in my heart that was the moment things changed. That was when my dreams died.

I promised myself that my children would never feel that way. And I realized that I couldn’t bring children into the world with you, angry and menacing, as their father. We would never have children. I would never be a real mother. I cried and cried; you had no idea why. You thought it was just the fight, my overreaction, my ridiculous fear of you. But it wasn’t. It was the first time I felt like I had no choice, like the future was decided for me and I had no say in it. Like now that I knew, that was it. My life was about trying to avoid that fear, that anger.

For ten years I made every single decision based on you. On being with you, on not losing you, on making you happy, on letting your dreams come true. I followed you blindly like a lost dog… I would have followed you anywhere. I followed your mother, because I couldn’t follow you, and ended up stuck in a horrible cycle of abuse not all that different from the childhood I so desperately fled. Every day I was berated for not magically having a job, not going to school, and yet I was never shown how. I had no idea where to start. And she knew this! She knew the entire time! I told her! But that didn’t matter.

I never mattered. I had a pair of boots too small that fucked up my feet for life; and even after we knew, I wasn’t allowed to get new boots. I had nothing but paper thin pants, not even denim. My coat was a laughingstock, completely unsuitable for Idaho winters. I had no layers, no wool socks, no thermals, nothing. When I started to get winter clothes, proper winter clothes, it was after living here for literal years. And they were always provided by someone else - Granny, Erica, Michelle, Erica’s mom, me. It took almost seven years for me to have a coat with any chance of protecting me. While she gorged on sweets and World of Warcraft, I couldn’t leave the house because I had nothing that would actually protect me. I was a prisoner.

She berated me for seven years. She never apologized for any of it. She dictated when I was allowed to be awake because she didn’t want to see me. She threatened to kick me out for not loading the dishwasher at the exact, unspecified time she wanted. She never missed an opportunity to poke fun at my hatred of winter, even after I was diagnosed with SAD. She still pointed it out and laughed and laughed, delighting in how upset it made me. No matter how many times I asked her to stop, no matter how politely I worded it, no matter how much I reminded... she refused.

And you expected me to just magically forget, because of her addiction. It’s not her fault, she’s just an addict! It’s not really her, it’s the addiction! But it was her! It was always her! And she never cared, never apologized, never owned up to her abhorrent behavior, even after recovering from her ridiculous addiction to WoW. She’s never going to accept how horribly she acted and how badly she treated me, not ever.

Neither will you, if we’re being honest. You’ll never be able to accept that what we had wasn’t love. The way you treated me wasn’t love. Yelling and screaming, grabbing and yanking my arm so hard it leaves a bruise, berating me while I cower in a corner sobbing… that’s not love. That was never love. Me desperately begging you not to go, not to leave me, not to kick me out because I didn’t know a world beyond you wasn’t love. It was fear and control. It was abuse. You abused me. I never thought I would say those words but its hecking true.

I was never your first priority. Maybe in high school when you had any desire to have a girlfriend, sure, but after Max it all went downhill. You downright refused to spend time with my family no matter how much I begged. Spending one Christmas with my aunt and uncle instead of your grandma and uncle was completely unacceptable. Heck, spending any time with my family instead of drinking with your friends was far too much to ask. That’s hecking ridiculous. That’s completely unacceptable. You claimed to love me, you even claimed to love these family members of mine, and yet you’d pull this stuff every time we went to visit! Just dump me with them and run off to drink and play games with your friends.

That’s just who you are, I guess, since it never stopped. You chose video games and drinking over me so many times. I would beg to spend even just half an hour with you before bed for days, weeks, and you wouldn’t. I would beg for your time and unless I reminded you all night long, you wouldn’t. And even if I reminded you constantly I was just nagging. We made plans to hang out and instead you’d drink! Instead you’d play another game! Nothing I did worked; I was like a hecking ghost to you. My sole purpose was to take care of you, to feed you and wash your clothes and clean the house and put away all of your hecking laundry because you simply couldn’t bear to turn off the video games and do it yourself.

You treated me like a hecking slave! I was nothing but a husk, a shell of a person! And once I finally started to crawl out of rock bottom, to fight through all the layers of bullstuff and depression and sorrow, you couldn't stand it! Because I stood up to you! I disagreed and I had my own opinions. Suddenly I had my own separate interests and started to explore things I never thought to try before, I got back into old hobbies, and I started to overcome. But you hated it! You just couldn’t stand to be proud of me! I worked my hecking butt off for a year and a half learning how to be an actual human being again and what did you do about it? You hecking gaslighted me at every opportunity about anxiety that didn’t exist!

You yelled and screamed and threw a hecking temper tantrum about my out of control anxiety and how it was controlling your life, how you couldn’t take it, how it was ruining you. And not a goddamn bit of it was even hecking real! YOU blew every little thing out of proportion, YOU took even the slightest question as a sign of my uncontrollable anxiety, YOU took every single hecking opportunity you could to put me down. I felt like I was hecking crazy when I never did anything wrong! You would threaten me, threaten us, and storm out then act like it never happened. Why?!

And then once I made it over the biggest hurdle I’ve ever had, talking to strangers and making friends, you hecking lost it. You threw a goddamn fit because I didn’t bring you some hecking pizza immediately, despite there being food in the house that I already made! Do you want to know why I didn’t bring the pizza by first? Because I was sick and hecking tired of putting your childish needs above myself! I was sick of babying you, of taking care of you, of being your hecking Mom 2.0. I told you my plans and if you were too hecking stupid to eat food, that was on you! You’re a hecking adult! You’re way too hecking old to keep using “I was playing video games so I forgot to eat” as a hecking excuse every goddamn day!!!

It was always a fight with video games, all hecking day long. You’d play them before work and burn breakfast or be physically hecking incapable of turning them off so we could leave in time. You’d turn on your computer the second we got home and that was it, you were gone. I would sit in the living room alone for hours, listening to you scream and yell and slam things because you’re not even hecking good at the games you play. Sometimes you’d offer to make dinner but you almost always hecked it up. Burned it because you couldn’t stay off your goddamn computer for ten hecking minutes, taken hours to even start because you were so hecking busy playing League… heck, it wasn’t rare for me to give up on the dinner you promised and throw something together for myself. Which always made you upset because I didn’t offer to make you some too. Such hecking bullstuff!

I thought taking the next step and moving forward with our lives for the first time in seven years would help. Just like I thought you getting out of Mississippi would help, just like I thought you getting therapy would help, just like I thought escaping your mother would help, just like I thought living alone would help. But nothing ever hecking helped! The problems just changed and morphed on the outside, staying the exact same at their core. I thought I could fix it, I thought I could fix you, I thought that if I just did better it would be okay.

I was so excited to be a wife, to be married, to be yours. I believed that if I was the perfect wife you’d change, that things would get better. That maybe if we were married the commitment would be real to you, that I would be real to you. But I never truly mattered, my needs never mattered, my interests never mattered. Asking for a few hours a week to edit photos was far, far too much for you to handle. Even when I begged you in tears because I was losing this thing that meant so, so much to me! Having to spend three or four hours per week off the goddamn computer was incomprehensible to you. Even when I was your wife!

You asked me if those vows meant nothing to me, but what did they mean to you? Do you really think cherishing your wife means absolutely refusing to spend time with her? Do you think it means choosing video games over her, each and every single day? You were so hung up on being cherished that you never bothered to cherish me. It was all just empty, hollow words. Words without meaning. Words you just tossed out because you should. I love you, I appreciate you, I cherish you. On what planet?!

If you cherish someone you don’t threaten to hit them! You don’t make them cower in fear! You don’t force them to walk on eggshells in a desperate attempt to stay on your good side! That’s abuse! Its abusive!

I thought my life was over, that this was it. I was so bored every single day I just wanted it to end. I talked myself out of suicide more times in the last two years than I ever had before. Every fight left me terrified, wondering how I could keep living like this. I would go over options, ways to do it, but I always chickened out… mostly because I promised Max, but a little bit because I knew you would never believe the reason why. You’d imagine yourself the innocent victim, eternally suffering, so shocked by my death. You would blame anything and everything but the actual cause, the real reason.

And you know what? I’m hecking glad I didn’t do it. I’m so thankful I was able to hold on and live another day because in the end it brought me here to him. I’ve never felt this way before, not even a little bit. I’ve never felt so completely at ease with another person. I don’t have anxiety because I’m not constantly on edge trying not to get in trouble. I can be who I am without fear. In a single month I’ve met more people than I’ve spoken to in literally six years. Most of them completely randomly! And you know what? I was fine! Aside from being a bit shy it hasn’t been an issue because all this time, YOU were the issue!

I never thought I could be happy. I thought my life would always be in limbo, a strange state of insecurity and worry and fear. I never thought I could be loved because you convinced me that it was impossible. That I was too fat and broken and used and damaged and hecking crazy for anyone to ever care about me at all. For seven years I felt like my only options were to die or to spend the rest of my life with you, unfulfilled and unimportant and completely unloved. But that’s not true. It’s not true at all. It couldn’t be further from the truth and I’m so angry it took so many stolen years for me to finally realize it.

I don’t deserve to be treated like this, like a hecking object. Like a slave. I’m no longer a punching bag whose sole purpose in life is to sit there and take your abuse, your threats, your insults. I never should have been in the first place. I don’t exist to feed you, to bathe you, to make sure you brush your teeth, to wash your clothes, to clean your house, to make your bed, to pack your lunch. I deserve more than sitting in a room completely alone, staring at a screen, wishing I would die just so I wouldn’t have to hurt so much anymore.

I want to live. For the first time since I was five years old, I want to live. I want to wake up in the morning, I want to go to sleep at night, I want to explore the world, I want to experience everything I missed out on for so many years. I deserve it! I deserve it all! I deserve to be happy, to be loved, to be desired, to be wanted, to be cherished. I don’t deserve to suffer in silence. I don’t deserve to be alone even when I’m in the same room as my husband. I deserve the chance to be my own person, to find my own dreams, to chase my own star.

I honestly don’t know if I would have ever gotten to this point without him. He sees something in me that you never did, something I may never see myself. He sees someone worthy of love, of happiness, of respect, of basic human hecking decency. At no point has he ever tried to control me, to influence my actions or thoughts. All he ever wanted was for me to be happy, whatever that meant, and to figure out my own way. He would have supported me no matter what happened, no matter what I chose, but I chose happiness.

When I sat next to him, watching him sob, watching him so desperately try not to tell me he loved me it broke my hecking heart. I had decided to work on my marriage, but at what cost? What would I be giving up? I would be giving up everything. I knew as I sat there that this was a moment that would change my life forever. Either I would choose him or I would spend the rest of my life regretting that I hadn’t. I knew without a doubt that in a few years I’d be trapped in Mississippi with a child, wondering why I passed up this chance and why I let the last choice I’d ever have slip by. So you know what? I made my choice and I stand by it. I will always stand by it, no matter what happens. Even if we don’t work out, I’ll survive. I’ll move on. I’ll live. Because my worth doesn’t depend on what he thinks of me, and it never should have depended on what you thought of me.

He may have been the catalyst, the final straw, but this was a long time coming. Far, far too long a time. I never should have let it get to this point but I didn’t know anything else. How could I? My entire childhood was controlled by my mother’s abuse, my teenage years were controlled by you, my early 20s by your mother… how could I have known? I was like hecking Rapunzel locked up in a tower. I had no human interaction outside of you and your mom for years! Literal years!

Nothing about us was ever healthy. It was never good. I loved you so much, but that love turned to desperation. I depended on you for far too much and in turn, you did the same. It was a toxic dance that was never destined to end well. Our relationship was only good because I gave myself up for it. I forgot what it was like to be a person, to have a personality, to have interests, to hecking go outside… all for you. All because you were my first. All because I was so desperate for a love story, for a high school sweetheart, to beat Grams and Papa’s record.

I gave you ten years of my life and that was far too long. I lost so much time, so many years, with absolutely nothing to show for it. I don’t have memories or experiences or stories. But that changes now. It ends now. I’m taking control of my life for the first time literally ever and nothing will ever change that. I’m not going back to being a punching bag, not for you or my mother or any partner ever again. I deserve love and I won’t settle for anything less ever again. I won’t let fear control me. I won’t ever let a partner control my life so deeply that I would die without their disgusting excuse for love. I am my own person and I can stand on my own two feet. I’ll be okay, no matter what, and there’s not a single doubt in my mind about that.

I know you’ll never read this. Even if you did, you’d never believe it. You’d scream and yell and threaten me. You’d try to pin me as some evil abusive psycho the same way you always do. But I’m not afraid of that any more. I’m not afraid of your reactions. I’m not afraid of the lies you’ll tell or the lies that you’ve already told. I deserve to be happy so I’ll chase it, forever, no matter what happiness comes to mean for me.

I deserve better and I finally hecking found it.

Screw you.
Just to be clear, I'm divorced now. I wrote this back in late March or early April shortly after leaving my ex husband. Since then I've been living with my boyfriend, Ray, and just... everything about my life has changed. Everything about me has changed. I'm finally getting a chance to just be myself and its amazing.
September 18th, 2019  
Good for you I'm glad things have changed for the better for you :)
September 18th, 2019  
From across an ocean I wish you well. X
September 18th, 2019  
lovely to see "you"! praying your new life is filled with all good things!
September 18th, 2019  
@claycameras oh my word! Girl I cannot tell you what a powerful story this is to me, how proud i am of you moving out of the FOG, you are courageous and i wish you all the happy endings.x
September 18th, 2019  
time for a new profile pic, i want to see this new Carissa!
September 18th, 2019  
This was a hard read but I'm so pleased that you've reached a turning point in your life... and so pleased to see you posting - welcome back.
September 18th, 2019  
Such painful words for you to have to write. You are so brave!!! I hope that the granite that you discovered inside of yourself continues to give you the strength, happiness and fulfillment that you so richly deserve. Welcome back!
September 19th, 2019  
Carissa, you have made the right decision! Now enjoy your life with someone who appreciates you - no regrets! Big hug
September 19th, 2019  
So pleased you are back and as your own person.

I have followed you for a long time and could see from the very start that you were in an abusive relationship. I hoped you would one day see the light and I am so pleased you now have. Don't ever be angry about your past, it has made you into the person you are now. People in any kind of abusive relationship have to reach the bottom before they finally find the courage to leave and learn to climb. Enjoy your new journey, I wish you every happiness. There will be times in the future when you will occasionally slip backwards, but because you now know where the bottom is you will never go that far down again. You must be so proud of yourself. Well done and welcome back to the world. May every day be bright.
September 19th, 2019  
@rjb71 Thank you! I'm glad too :)

@30pics4jackiesdiamond Thanks Jackie.

@jackies365 Thank you so much! Things are going wonderfully.

@kali66 Thank you thank you Kali!!! It was so hard to pull myself out but I'm so grateful I finally did. New profile picture just for you too! Its not the best but I don't have anything better right now haha.

@vignouse Thanks so much Richard. Its really nice to finally be back.

@joysabin Thank you! I think its doing well. I feel so at peace and secure with myself for the first time.

@lyndamcg No regrets at all! This was the best choice I've ever made and I'm so thankful that I had the courage to leave.

@onewing Thank you so much for your kind words, Babs. They mean a lot to me. Sometimes I'm still upset that I gave him so much of myself, so many years and everything, but I'm doing a lot better with it now. I'm much more at peace. Going through all of that made me who I am and brought me here. I wouldn't trade the love, life, and friends I have now for anything. Even in just a few short months I've changed so much and come so far. I wouldn't change that.

Its so crazy to hear that you figured it out! How did you know? Basically everyone I've talked to outside of my very close group of co-workers had no idea it was happening.
September 19th, 2019  
carissa, i am so glad you found your courage this early in your life. as bad an experience as it was, remember the valuable lesson. you have so much good things ahead of you and you have so much talent that will carry you through. love freely, but love yourself above else for you can not love one truly if you cannot love yourself first. i am very proud of you.

welcome back, kiddo!
September 19th, 2019  
@claycameras You have given clues along the way in your writings without actually saying the words. I am a retired psychologist and during my long career I have covered a variety of positions including addiction, child abuse, drug and alcohol counselling and domestic violence. I can pick the patterns of behaviour.
You must feel so proud of yourself to have broken the cycle. You will now go from strength to strength and there will be no turning back. Be so thankful you are one of the lucky ones, not everyone has your strength. Take care xx
September 19th, 2019  
I wondered how Babs figured it out also, i have been living this stuff for 30 years and didnt pick it up from things you said. Hiding it, from everyone is par for the course. One day it dawns on you that it is abuse, until you frame it that way you make excuses for it, believe its your fault, that you are not trying hard enough, unfortunately it was 5 kids later and a whole lot of life gone before i got information through the internet about toxic relationships that helped me understand how i settled for this... still dont see a way out, but in understanding things are shifting, that's why I feel so glad for you my dear, and a little jealous lol .

the new profile pic is a world away from the last, so happy, and firmly embraced in loving arms.
September 19th, 2019  
@kali66 Oh Kali, I feel so sad, I do hope you can find a way out. Please trust in yourself, you are an amazing person and always believe that. You have strengths you haven't realized yet but they are there. I do hope you can find the help you need to find your dream. Take care xx
September 19th, 2019  
Cool picture.
September 20th, 2019  
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