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“There’a a phrase, “the elephant in the living room”, which purports to describe what it’s like to live with a drug addict, an alcoholic, an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, “How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn’t you see the elephant in the living room?” And it’s so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth; “I’m sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn’t know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.” There comes an aha-moment for some folks – the lucky ones – when they suddenly recognize the difference.” ― Stephen King

Continuing my recap of last year, here is April and May. I will focus on my relationship with B., which was the main theme of those months. (to read in detail, go to Archives)

Towards the end of March and beginning of April, B. and I met several times. He was kind and had flowers for me every time we saw each other. But there were times where we weren’t really in tune. He kept pushing to see me more often.  He was showing a possessive and insecure side.

In April I went to Brazil to see my family and bring my mom to the US for her biannual visit.

While in Brazil, I spoke to B. every night.  I wanted to pacify him. We grew closer and couldn’t wait to see each other.  This relationship was looking more and more like the love story I have been looking for.  He was again acting insecure and possessive on the phone, but I was blinded by the potential.

He would frame some outbursts as done out of loving me so much and didn’t want to get hurt if I was not as serious about the relationship as he was.

When I returned to the US, on April 19, things didn’t go as I had hoped.  I had mentioned to B. that my time was going to be limited because of my mom’s visit.  He said he understood it, but he kept complaining about not seeing me enough.

When we were together, he would say the right things, give me flowers and apologize for being demanding of my time.  When we were apart, he would fire off texts showing a possessive and insecure side that was not attractive at all.

There was one date, for our 2-month anniversary, that I acted like a baby.  I think it was already my gut, my instincts rebelling against this relationship.

Twice I had said to him that some of the texts he sent while angry were not acceptable. I told him that this push-pull behavior made me feel like I was being emotionally abused. He was shocked to hear that, apologized and promised to be more thoughtful before sending another one of those texts.

 “I am stuffing your mouth with your
promises and watching
you vomit them out upon my face.”
 Anne Sexton

Then, the day before I was to leave to Brazil to take my mom back, he got upset.  We had already said good bye with a dinner, but he wanted to see me one more time.  I changed my schedule a couple of times to see him again, but when there was another change, I said I couldn’t make it.  He then sent me a text calling me an a-hole.  Shock is not even the word to describe my feelings when I read that. He sent a couple of apologies in messenger and WhatsApp.  I didn’t reply and blocked him on both.

I will not be called names, specially by someone that supposedly loves me.  It is unacceptable to me.   I feel I dodged a bullet.  His demanding behavior and possessiveness kept getting worse.  His insecurity and fear of getting hurt always got the best of him. But that is no excuse.  A grown man should know how to behave, or seek help.

Had he not called me an a-hole, I would probably still be in that relationship.  Still trying to make it work, because it seemed so right sometimes.  I fell for the flowers and the potential.

I am glad I was leaving for Brazil the following day.  Being far away made it easier to not be tempted to give him yet another chance.  I was too busy with my family to think about him.  Well, I did think about him, but it made it easier to distract my mind.

Now, almost a year later, I am happy that I got out of that relationship relatively fast.  Had I stayed in it longer I can only imagine how it would destroy my mind and well-being.  Looking back there were so many issues, signs, offensive words disguised as “loving too much”.  There were so many things I ignored because it seemed so promising.

I remember when I wrote about it last year. I was embarrassed, and still in doubt about using the word “abuse”.  But it felt in my gut, it was in all the little words that hit me like a knife, and also in the beautiful flowers that made me smile.  At the end of conversations I was spent and questioning my sanity.  Yes, it was abuse and I am glad to be far from it, and to now be better able to recognize it.  Abuse comes in all forms.

My sister had already recognized it.  I would tell her about the dates. There were a couple of times that I remember her saying: “I am afraid of you going to his house.  He is unstable.” I thought she was overreacting.  I pacified her, and said that he would never physically hurt me.

Lesson learned:  Don’t ignore the red flags and your gut.  If someone is acting in a way that you think it is harmful to our mental health, don’t hang around.  Situations and actions escalate.  If you wonder if you are being mentally abused, you are! Run!

“The scars from mental cruelty can be as deep and long-lasting as wounds from punches or slaps but are often not as obvious. In fact, even among women who have experienced violence from a partner, half or more report that the man’s emotional abuse is what is causing them the greatest harm.” ― Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men