March 28

Dear Diary,

Well, you’ll be delighted to know that Mercury is coming out of retrograde. I know. I know. That’s just some hippie shit that you don’t care about because it has no impact on your life, but it’s a thing. Ok? Seriously though it’s been a rough few weeks even without the cosmic “help”. But you know I like to skirt the issue with a little small talk first. Don’t act like you don’t know, Diary. Sitting here with your blank pages full of hope and promise.

It’s been a little over a week since it happened. The bruises are significantly lighter now and my range of motion has mostly recovered so that’s nice. Looking forward to maybe being able to wear a dress again in this warm weather. It’s astonishing that I even have to say that or think that. Every day he comes home like nothing happened. No new information. No attempts to repair anything. Just expectation that I will be there. Property. A fixture in the home.

I guess I find it most astonishing that I find myself here because I can see now how it happened. How he chipped away at me and my life until all that was left was him. It wasn’t always easy for him. In some ways, it was. I was estranged from most of my family already with a small circle of friends. He managed to pick most of them off one by one and win the others over so that no one was safe. Anyone who threatened his dominance in my life was immediately stricken from it in one way or another. That’s the thing about abuse. It doesn’t start that way.

He was charming and delightful and wounded in ways that made him easy to love. He exploited my vulnerabilities and then crawled inside of them to keep me warm. He joked with me constantly and made me feel special. He convinced me he was a safe place, and I entered willingly. From there, it was so hard to see clearly how I was creating my own prison. I gave him everything he needed, and then all of my control was lost. Any time I tried to take it back, I was berated or belittled for thinking I could be anything, do anything, have anything without him. Conversely, if that method didn’t soften me, he would threaten to end his life.

Eventually he had constant access to everything. All of my accounts, devices, everything. He would monitor everything in real time and punish me for anything he saw as an indiscretion. It came to a point that every male was someone I was cheating with no matter who they were or what the manner of contact. Because of the way I’ve always kind of kept to myself, no one really questioned that I wasn’t around. They just assume I’m busy. Kids, life, etc. I wish. I so so wish.

In the last week, I’ve come to realize that I’ve left myself nowhere to turn. I gave him everything he needed to keep me captive. I’ve hesitantly reached out to people who I thought would be there no matter what. Who I thought would at least offer some helpful tools or guidance only to be ignored completely. I’ve blatantly said things like, “He threw me on the ground. I have bruises all down the left side of my body.” to people and watched them not know what to do or how to react. They just stare. Stuck. I get it. Me too. I know my neighbors heard me screaming for him to get off of me. I know my kids heard us fighting. He took my phone so I couldn’t call the police. Everyone acts like nothing happened. It’s the weirdest thing, and it makes it feel like everything he built is true.

There is no one to help. There is nowhere to turn. I even see now how I helped him do it. How when I’d confided in someone about the gaslighting ages ago and they’d mentioned it to someone in my family. I dismissed my family members and made it seem like I was just using the term loosely not like he was actually gaslighting me. “You know, just tries to convince me that I agreed to something I know I didn’t or that he told me something or I didn’t tell him something. No big deal.” Holding my breath the entire time waiting to see if they’d buy it. They did. Sigh of relief. Relief? Yep. Relief. That’s how it happens. You lie to yourself, and then everyone around you, and then you’re relieved when they believe it because if they believe it, then maybe it’s not a lie. It is a lie. It’s not just your depression or anxiety (which are likely being exacerbated by the situation as a whole) talking. It’s a lie you’re telling yourself because you can’t see the way out.

I read a quote one time about looking through rose colored glasses and how it makes red flags just look like flags and it hit me hard. Then, I read another quote about how no one talks about sex as self harm and that hit me harder. I realized what my life has become. A state of constant anxiety and feelings of inadequacy leading up to pretending that I feel loved, appreciated, comforted, and wanted. From the moment he opens the door in the evening, I consciously monitor my face for signs that I’m unhappy. I make sure we have sex at least once a night so he won’t be angry that we didn’t or think anything is wrong. I’m certain he only has sex with me so that I won’t ask questions about all of the other women he is also having sex with.

I’ve asked him to get help. To go to rehab. I’ve sent him phone numbers to multiple places and every time there’s some reason it can’t be that place. The hours don’t work, they don’t offer the service he’s looking for, always something. I know next time will be worse. I know there will be a next time. I know that I live in fear now of what will happen next. I know that I’m afraid that I will not survive. I know that it has to stop.

I don’t know what to do, Diary. I don’t know how to move forward.

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