It is amazingly easy to deceive oneself. Sometimes we just don’t want to accept the reality in front of us, because the truth is too difficult to bear and appears incomprehensible to us. This is where I found myself last spring, after the horrible night my abuser first became physically aggressive with me. I still wanted to believe that we stood a chance: that he wasn’t really a bad guy; that his aggression was a just result of heavy liquor and drugs; that the previous charges against him were completely false; that his need to control me was actually him trying to protect me; and that despite whatever he did or said, he still loved me. And that was all that mattered.

He cut back on the drinking and promised to never get as drunk as he did that horrible night. I convinced myself that this was enough and I pushed every nagging thought or hesitation out of my mind. Then came the issue of our parents. I told both of my parents everything, about the horrible night, his constant putting me down, his control and manipulation. They of course didn’t want us to stay together. I don’t exactly know what he told his mom, he wasn’t very close with her. But one very odd memory I have is that he told me that his mother thought that he, her son, was abusing me. To this day, I still cannot comprehend this: did his own mother truly suspect something and believe that her own son was capable of hurting a woman? I am sure his mother had been abused at one point or another based on the descriptions he gave me of his childhood, so she was most likely very familiar with domestic violence and abuse. Maybe she actually believed that the previous allegations against him were true. But more importantly, why did he tell me this? Did he expect me to immediately refute this idea, which I did, and so he could gain reassurance? Was this another one of his manipulation tactics? Probably. But like so many things, it remains a mystery.

Despite whatever our parents thought, things did suddenly appear to go back to that blissful, honeymoon phase, in some ways at least. We went exploring in the city, for walks in the park, and got way too much ice cream on warm summer nights. I thought we could make it through this. Perhaps, this hope was due to the intoxication of freedom that summer always brings, even in grad school (well, sort of). Nevertheless, we became almost addicted to each other, and spent all of our time together, even more than we did before the horrible night. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but it became like we couldn’t eat, sleep, or breathe without each other. I have of course experienced that need to be with someone in the early stages of relationships, but this was different. Maybe it was our attempt to move past that horrible night (which we started to refer to as “the incident”) and replace that memory with new memories. Maybe I was just trying to make sure he wasn’t drinking heavily. Maybe it was another attempt of his to control me and my life by ensuring I had nothing else besides him, which I know is the typical situation of abusive relationships. Either way, the threats were still there and became worse and more frequent; about other guys mostly, him checking my texts, telling me over and over that I could not talk to a guy he didn’t know, that this was for my protection because I was just naïve. These threats expanded to what I was wearing: that it needed to be fashionable and stylish, but also couldn’t be too revealing. I was his after all. I once didn’t have a top button done on my shirt and he told me he would be “fucking furious” if he came up to my lab and the button was undone again. But it didn’t matter how much these threats started to scare me or keep me up at night. I used all my energy to ignore them and made believe in my mind that everything was going to be all right.

Looking back, I think I tried to believe this illusion because I never thought that I could end up with an abusive man, or than an abusive man could also be a highly intelligent medical student. I refused to acknowledge that I too could be fooled. But abuse does not discriminate. It can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone, even me.

Here is a poem I wrote describing this.

Not Me

I thought it would never be me.
I was too smart
I would surely see
I could not be fooled
No, not me.

I thought it was obvious
How to spot a man like you
I mean really,
How hard could it be?
I could not be so blind.
No, not me.

But you were charming
And you knew what to say.
Mesmerized, you had me under your spell
And so, like the girls before me,
I fell.

I fell so hard and I fell so deep.
For those first few months
Everything was just a dream.
They told me don’t rush
Things are not always what they seem.
But I knew what I was doing
I would not be deceived.
No, not me.

Then day-by-day,
You started to change.
You had a dark side
I saw it in the things you said to me
The things you did
I saw it in your eyes.
Still I tried to ignore
when you were angry
when you were mean.
It would go away, I was sure.

But it never disappeared
It got worse and worse.
I could no longer play pretend
Though it killed me, it had to end.

If there’s one thing I learned,
It’s that it’s not so easy
To spot a man like you.
There’s no warning on your face
Saying “I abuse.”
But there were always signs
Things I saw but didn’t want to believe
But I am no longer blind.
And I am NOT weak.
And this will never happen again.
Not to me.



4 thoughts on “Illusions

  1. I’ve was once a magnet for verbally abusive men, so your poem and analysis resonated with me. Glad you are writing about it. The world needs to know we deserve better but we’re just as lost, sometimes, and we need someone to say, “There, there, it will be ok…”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Many women do not realize that the repeated shift between the honeymoon and abuse phases is typical of domestic violence. The honeymoon phase gives them false hope.

    Women mistakenly assume that a man’s “insecurities” (supposedly the reason for his excessive control) or stress (supposedly the reason for his violence) will eventually decrease. But domestic violence only increases in severity. Too often, it ends in death.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are completely right. It can be very difficult to recognize the signs and that constant shift in his behavior can make it even harder to know what’s real. it’s so confusing and not black and white, like many people think it is. Thank you for reading and commenting. Wish you all the best.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.