The Face of Abuse: One Year Later

Author’s Note:  Almost one year ago I wrote this article, never thinking it would be published or find the spotlight of recognition for other survivors.  For nearly a year, I have placed my hospital bracelet near my bed to remind me of a place I once visited and never wish to see again.  Sometimes in life, love does hurt—but love should never be the cause of deep, emotional suffering—that’s not love.  Looking back a year later, I am reminded of the pain my ex caused and his complete disregard for my heart, my feelings and my dignity.  It’s as one survivor said, “A Narcissist is missing the gene of humanity.”  I am also reminded, however, that I am okay… that a Narcissist can never change, can never better himself, but I can and I did.  I will never forget the time spent behind those hospital walls.  I will remember that while I suffered in that hospital, my ex took another girl to the movies…that I was continually disregarded and underestimated.  But behind those walls, beautiful lessons were learned, amazing people were met and a new person was born.  I’m so proud of who I am and how far I have come in just one year.  Happy one year anniversary to me and to any abuse survivors out there—and remember, as Maya Angelou wrote, “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”  

(Photo Courtesy of Tumblr)


         Like a caged circus animal, I was pacing.  Celled in a creepy sterile room of pasty grey walls, I was plotting my escape like a deranged prisoner.  Standing behind the barred windows, I was haunted by smells of past memories, past inmates.  I could hear ghosts of past prisoners of room 24 pleading for their release.  Maybe I am just going crazy, I thought.  Crazy–a fitting word for such a situation. 

            I was in shock.  How had I gotten here?  It was the week of mid-terms and while my friends were partying and enjoying the drunken festivities of St. Patrick’s Day, I was holed away like a prisoner in solitary confinement.  I buried my head in the hard, sterilized cotton pillow, hiding my face in shame.  Thoughts of hate were swirling around my head so fast I could barely keep up: He put me here, how could he do this to me?  But the truth, the real story was that I had put myself in the hospital.  I had allowed this love, this deranged sense of comfort and intimacy to trip me down a spiraling staircase of dangerous emotions.  I was where I needed to be: the mental health wing.

            How does this happen, you ask?  How does a bright, vibrant young girl who dreamt big and loved wholeheartedly end up in a mental institution?  It has taken me nearly a year of self discovery and ongoing battles with inner demons to even attempt to answer such a taboo question.  Recently I came across a Kanye West/Jay-Z song.  While they may not be the most effective references in speaking of relationships and abuse, a line resonated with me: “What is my Achilles’ heel?  Love—I don’t get enough of it.”

            Love, that overwhelming feeling of devotion, was my own Achilles’ heel, perhaps my greatest strength and ultimate downfall.  It was such a strong misunderstanding of the concept of love that had landed me in my lowest point in life.  At 16, I was starry-eyed and struck by this charmer—this amazing man who put the world in my pocket.  Six years my senior, he handed me everything I could imagine but could never touch: expensive trips, exotic foods, fun dates, and gifts, always gifts.  I had been hit by a force with which I could not compete and I never saw coming. 

            But by 17, only one year into the blissful romance, friends and family could already feel me, the real me, slipping away and as hard as I fought to admit it, I felt it too.  All my life I felt this light, a bright exuberance, follow me as I walked into a room.  As my dad said, I had a glow.  But that glow was flickering and slowly dying, overcast by the shadow of a Narcissist, an abuser.  At 22 I had given my all—my self-worth, happiness and ambition—in exchange for his ego boost.  I was a fresh target, easy to slam down and pick up again later when my presence was needed for appearances. 

            Deteriorating, I grew tired.  It was one evening when I felt the thump of a sharp kitchen fork hit the back of my head that I knew this wasn’t love.  It never had been.  I picked up the shadow of my former self and left our apartment, but the mind games and abuse ensued.  It was when I found out about his affairs that I checked into a hospital.  That was it, the final, painful blow—my Achilles’ had snapped.

            During the beginning of my hospital visit, I had my feet firmly planted in the denial stage.  I was in disbelief that my ex could ever really impose these abusive acts and words onto me.  It was not until the third visit with my doctor that I had succumbed to the reality of the situation.  “You’re battered,” he said.  Like the remnants of an archaic building, slowly I crumbled.  While it was the most devastating and embarrassing thing to face, I had no choice.  I had to face my greatest fear: I was abused.  I wept for days and stayed secluded from other patients as I was fearful of their mental disorders.  I mean, these people were all crazy, right?

            Wrong.  The kindest, most sincere people are sometimes those that are suffering right along with you.  Once I finally broke through my own ignorance, I joined group sessions and was embarrassed by my judgments.  I had received more support from “crazy” people in three days than I ever had in six years with my ex. 

            Upon checking myself out, I received advice from the unlikeliest of sources: Larry, the Schizophrenic.  “Jordan,” he called after me.  I looked back, scared.  “Treat yourself well,” he said with a smile.  The best advice I have ever received, Larry’s words continue to stay close to me.  With one year abuse-free, I am slowly beginning the climb to heal the scars and take back what I had wrongly given my ex-N.  At 23, I am saving my own life and learning to “treat myself well.”

3 Responses to “The Face of Abuse: One Year Later”
  1. Marytherese says:

    I for one am so proud of you and so glad you are fighting your way back to be the happy fun-loving girl I remember. Don’t ever let ANYONE do this to you. You are so much more than that. As Larry said ‘treat yourself well” you deserve only the best.
    You are on your way to places I can’t even imagine, and your career is going to be just as amazing.
    Take hold of life because yours is going to be one hell of a ride, if you let it!!!

    always and forever,

  2. Tiarah says:

    I love this. I was abused by many men growing up, but the final straw was my 23 year old boyfriend who hooked me on meth when I was 16. Getting away from him saved my life. My last few boyfriends weren’t that great either, but I’ve learned not to settle. I am 22 now and the healthiest mentally and emotionally I’ve ever been. Thanks for sharing.

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