Everyday I am blamed for things that are not my responsibility. Things like the weather ruining our plans. Things like dinner being burnt. Things like stores being closed or possessions being misplaced. I’ve tried defending myself, but it makes things worse, so I’ve learned to swallow my words and try to block out the venom. I’m in an abusive relationship, and I can’t get out.
I know the cycle. The cycle that starts out joyful and loving, fun-filled and joking, playful and sweet. The cycle that starts to build a sense of vibrating energy in the room. The cycle of building and building and building tension until finally . . . BOOM! It explodes! I know the cycle. I’ve tried to stop it. I can’t. I’m in an abusive relationship, and I can’t get out.
I’ve been called horrible names. I’ve been told I’m a bitch, an awful person, a bad mom. I’ve been told to fuck off. I’ve been told that I’m hated, unloved, unwanted. I’ve been called lazy and horrible and that I don’t do anything right. I’ve learned to quietly take it, because that is the best strategy to shorten the abuse. Talking back only makes it go on longer. I’m in an abusive relationship and I can’t get out.
I’ve been hit. I’ve been bruised. I’ve had doors slammed on me and crutches kicked out from under me. I’ve had recently healing surgical sites kicked. I’ve been bit so hard my skin has broken and bled. I’ve been scratched, slammed into walls, pushed down stairs. I’m in an abusive relationship and I can’t get out.
I’ve been woken out of a deep slumber to be screamed at, blamed, and physically hurt. I was sleeping. Doing nothing. Waking to rage and fear. I’m in an abusive relationship and I can’t get out.
I’ve been in the same room and shrunk whenever my abuser moves anywhere near me, preconditioned to brace for impact. I’ve felt panic laying down on the floor in child’s pose and immediately covered my head as my instinctual fight or flight takes over even though my abuser has only taken a step across the room. I’m living in a state of hypervigilance and panic as my body has been primed for danger. I’m in an abusive relationship and I can’t get out.
I’ve spent hours trying to do things the right way, appease my abuser, love well enough that the abuse will end. After the abuse I reflect back on what I could have done differently, what I did wrong, how I can do it differently next time and spare my family the terrifying, rageful episode, but it doesn’t matter. It still happens again. And even if I can understand why it happened, it doesn’t take away the psychological and physical trauma my family and I have endured. I’m in an abusive relationship and I can’t get out.
I’m distanced from many of my friends and family. It just feels too hard sometimes. My energy is taken up with this relationship. I know that if I stay out too late or go someplace wrong there will be consequences, and often I just don’t want to face them. So I avoid them. I’m in an abusive relationship and I can’t get out.
I’ve had to take anti-anxiety medications when I’ve never needed them before. I’ve experienced panic attacks when I never have before. I know all the tricks and tools to calm anxiety, but when I’m in the middle of the abuse, breathing and a calming mindset aren’t always going to keep my limbic system from firing into overdrive. Years of abuse consumes you from the inside out. I’m in an abusive relationship and I can’t get out.
I have the physical means to get out.
I know all the numbers and resources.
I do have friends and family, even though I can be distanced from them.
I have places to go.
I can bring my children and leave in the middle of the day.
But I can’t get out.
Some days I’m ready to go. Some days I fantasize about going. But, I can’t. I love my abuser too much. I see the good. I see the love. I see the attempts to do it better. I see the pain behind the rage.
I can’t get out.
My abuser is not one I can leave. My abuser is autism. My abuser lives inside my daughter.
If anyone else treated me the same, I’d be gone. I wouldn’t tolerate it. But, what do you do when it’s your daughter. Your baby girl who is struggling so hard. You provide tools. You separate the aggressive outbursts from the daughter you know. But, you still have to live with it.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, panicked, terrified, anxious, depressed, nauseous, seek help. Talk to people. Find a therapist. Talk to you doctor. Take meds. Take breaks. But, most of all, take it easy on yourself. Be kind. Be compassionate to you. Of course you feel downtrodden and stuck. You might be in an abusive relationship and, like me, you can’t get out.