I broke up with a partner recently. We were monogamous. It was awful. Not because we were monogamous, but because – hell I don’t really know, yet, I’m still numb and still and gummed up.
I feel broken.
I’ve been knowing that I need to break up with this partner for months, perhaps years. I’ve been knowing that she has a wildly different reality about things that happen between us than I do. I’ve been knowing that she wasn’t able to make me a priority, even to the extent of having a reliable weekly date night. We’ve gone for long periods without sex. There were reasons and excuses for everything, but it was still what it was.
I’d get really fed up and get ready to break up with her and she’d talk, or cry me out of it.
There may have been some gaslighting. Or manipulation. Or something.
Hell, my parents gaslit me continually throughout my childhood. Nothing is wrong. You’re not living with an abusive psychopath, just a cranky alcoholic. You didn’t go for long periods without food, we would never do that to you. You’re just sensitive.
Thankfully, we went to couples therapy, and the therapist was competent. She validated that it was really okay to need what I needed – reliability, to be a high priority, designated time together. In particular, she validated that my ex jumped to wild conclusions that weren’t based in fact when I was describing my experience or asking for what I need. She’d get all worked up and upset whenever I talked about something she did that hurt me, rather than just apologizing and trying to find a constructive solution.
That last part was what was probably the gaslighting.
Early in our relationship, she would reinforce the unspoken ‘don’t tell me about things that I do that upset you’ rule by getting angry with me, and saying mean things I couldn’t even remember later because I dissociated.
She got mad at me for having a flashback. I should have waited till her kid was not around. I left the room and didn’t see the comfort I needed before having the flashback, and she got mad at me for not staying around to do the dishes.
I’m out, it’s over, and I don’t even want to look at it. I’m numb. And my throat is closed up which is affecting my singing.
Really, all I want is for it all to be over with and for my throat to feel open. Be open. I want to feel safe again. Feeling numb is almost like feeling safe. I don’t have this desperate need to be held and comforted. I don’t have any needs really. It feels all very detached and sane.
Except my throat, tight. And sometimes I cry, for about 60 seconds. And then I feel nothing again.
Like this moment, when I wrote that. I had misty eyes and a couple of silent sobs, and then done.
One thing I do know she did was try and talk me out of how I feel. Which is, technically, gaslighting. I did figure out how to recognize and call her on this, and she would stop when I did. She recognized it was a problem. But she kept doing it.
I felt so much empathy for how hard her life is, provided so much support, and she provided me with some support too, in limited areas, but still useful support. I got numb, so I didn’t even feel unhappy. It felt better because when she thought she was going to lose me, she behaved better. But it was untrustworthy.
I told her what I wanted and she said she couldn’t do it. That’s clear. Some she would like to but couldn’t, some she didn’t think I should even need. And that was what the therapist was so good in validating. It helped me to re-know in my bones that it was okay to need what I need.
It’s okay to feel what I feel too. Even if today, it’s numb. I’ll feel when it feels safe to feel I guess.
I promise I won’t get back together with her, even if I have feelings of longing or need. She’s not the store to get that from, and the price is too high if she were.
I want to scream and wail and rant and cry and have it all come rushing out of me, like I usually do when something big is up. But this is like a repetitive strain injury of the soul, to be repaired with rest and slow careful exercise. This is like a mind fuck that I might not get unfucked.
It’s messing up my singing and I have a gig, a paid gig, a big gig with my new band. And I want this throat block, now that I know it’s there, gone yesterday.
And that’s not a very helpful attitude to have with the inner child that is holding my emotions here, who is mad and doesn’t trust me because I let myself get lied to again, and I let myself be hurt, and I didn’t protect her.
I had freaking flashbacks and she had no compassion.
Oh yeah, that’s the other thing blocking my throat, I had a flashback (Trigger warning, childhood sexual assault description).
This is a little space so you can stop reading if youwant to.
My father forced me to give him blowjobs. I don’t think I actively gave them to him, but there was some sort of forcing and me choking and my jaw hurting, and the fluids and me saying I don’t wannna. I think it happened a lot more than once.
That evil fucker.
Now at a certain level I knew this happened. But I only had small pieces of visceral memory and I thought it could have been part of the sexual assault I did remember more completely. This recent flashback was a contextual piece and contained a location (the living room), a related activity (playing the piano or near the piano) and the emotional reality (I don’t wanna, no).
I’m sorry, little one, that I fell for her lies. That I didn’t get you out. That I didn’t trust my body, or even my mind. I’m sorry. I’m still learning how to step around these kinds of things. Some lies still fool me.
You were brave and strong. I’m so glad you said no. And I’m glad you kept telling me no, that you need to leave. I got confused and made mistakes. I will be careful. I will do my best. I will not lie to you.