Wherever You Go, There You Are

I used to be one of those people who couldn’t understand why her life was like a minefield. Wherever I went, chaos exploded all around me. I couldn’t figure out why I was the only person I knew who existed with so much anarchy around her. When things are that fucked up, there are two options:

• Confront the problem by facing the truth.
• Run.

I ran. I ran to a new city, but then my new life turned into my old life, only with different scenery and players so I ran to another city. There are many cities on this planet, so I wasn’t going to run out of them anytime soon. The alternative, to look inward, was too terrifying to contemplate. I had a sense that what I’d have to admit to myself was worth running away from.

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There was something inherently wrong with the way I was living, but I was too wound up in denial to see it clearly. There are consequences to everything, and that minefield was the result of my own behaviour.

Wherever you go, there you are.

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The Terrible Irony of the Friend Zone

I’ve never cut a man off for the despicable sin of friend-zoning me. I’ve had enough friend-crushes to start a cult, but I don’t see “The Friend Zone” as a prison. People’s sexualities are not possessions I’m owed.

My friendship doesn’t entitle me to free access to your body. What I get in exchange for the friend zone is your friendship, and that’s enough for me because I’m not buying you for sex using the currency of entitlement. I’ll take the platonic dinners and poker evenings happily because my friends have real value. I cherish them even if they won’t have sex with me. I don’t roll around on the floor wailing if I don’t get to kiss who I want at the end of the night.

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This works both ways. I automatically friend zone men who see the friend zone as a legitimate and intolerable entity. I understand a no contact rule after a romantic relationship has ended, but before? Just no.

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I’m Not a Princess. So Bite Me.

I’ll never be one of those women who swans around wearing stilettos and a pedicure painted by Dali. I’ve never even had a professional mani-pedi (just typing those words made me hurl). You’ll never see me wearing a belt as a skirt at a winter party because I prefer not turning into an icicle.

I will, however, be sure to drag my coat through a puddle and get icing in my hair. I will slip in the doorway and trip over the snack table. I don’t even have to drink to achieve all that. It’s a natural talent.

I’m not willing to pay someone perfectly good chocolate money to paint my nails. Do I want to look hot? Yes. Do I want to be comfy, too? Does answering that question in the affirmative get me kicked out of the female community forever? Because R300 is enough to buy about a thousand jars of Nutella, so why would I spend it on nails that will be chipped before I even get out the door?

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I take care of myself well enough. I primp and preen to within an inch of my life even if I’m single. You will not find is a single stray hair on my body. I’m OCD that way. What I’m not OCD about is prancing around in six inch heels while my feet die a thousand deaths.

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Too Smart to be Abused

I’ve always known I was too damn smart to get stuck in a toxic relationship. If I spotted the manipulation, it couldn’t affect me. I was too perceptive to be controlled, too aware to let someone get the better of me, and yet I spent several months having my self-worth chipped away one piece at a time, and trying to leave was a struggle that I still barely understand.

I knew what was happening. His psychological abuse was not exactly covert, and yet I kept trying to fix it, kept taking all the blame onto my own shoulders. Every time I managed to leave, I went back. I told my friends how many mistakes I made. I developed a hundred ways of taking on all the blame. I knew all my flaws, and if I could just become perfect, it would mend every bridge. I could earn love if I could just change enough.

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I was told that no man would ever be good enough for my impossible standards. I believed him even though many men had been good enough for my “impossible” standards.

I existed in his world according to his rules. My identity went onto the pile alongside my dignity and self-esteem. I was trained to behave like a good rescue dog: never bark, always sit when told, greet every cruelty with loyalty and obedience. What I struggled to learn was how to be silenced. For the longest time, I used my voice, even when I was scared to. That was my greatest downfall. You don’t speak your truth unless you’re willing to accept the rage that follows, and so ultimately I lost the courage to speak up.

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Myths About Abuse

The victim needs to find their part in the abuse.

Abuse victims already blame themselves. That’s precisely why they’re still with their abusers. They’ve been told repeatedly how worthless they are, that they push the abuser’s buttons, and that’s why they rage. If they think the abuser’s behaviour is all their fault, why would they leave? All they need to do is fix themselves, and the abuse will stop. It’s only when victims realise that the abuse won’t change regardless of what they do that they can set themselves free.

It’s only when victims see that they’re not to blame that they become empowered enough to leave.

The victim keeps going back so it can’t be abuse.

Psychological abuse is sneaky. It doesn’t stand on a soapbox and announce what it is, otherwise victims wouldn’t tolerate it. Abusers are rarely all bad. They have masks of awesomeness, which give way to gaslighting, rage, and other forms of abuse. Their faux “compassion” rescues victims from the harm they, themselves, have caused, which causes trauma bonds that become stronger with every abuse cycle.

Victims try to leave an average of seven times before they manage to stick to their decisions.

Abuse is a defence against hurt feelings

People put up defensive barriers to protect themselves from attack. The action of someone on the defence is to build a wall to protect themselves. They don’t open fire. Abusers go well beyond that. They attack their victims. This is not a defensive manoeuvre, but an offensive one. It’s an attempt to control, manipulate, and harm.

Abusers don’t abuse because their feelings are hurt. They do it to control their partners.

Couples Counselling or therapy will work

Abuse specialists advise against psychotherapy and couples counselling almost universally. Abusers use the extra vulnerability their victims offer up during therapy sessions to gather information and ammunition for future attacks. Their abuse often escalates when counselling begins.

Abusers also tend to manipulate therapists in one-on-one psychotherapy, so only specialised programs for abusers are suggested. Here, victims are the primary clients, and they participate in the process to prevent the abuser from avoiding accountability through dishonesty. Even so, it takes years and plenty of active participation to bring change, and a lifetime of work to maintain that change. Very few abusers manage to achieve that. Those with personality disorders cannot be cured.

The abuse is mutual

Abusers use crazymaking behaviour and gaslighting to unsettle their victims, so they aren’t going to be the picture of sanity and serenity. They’ve been systematically pulled apart in a hundred different ways over months or years. Trauma, depression, suicidal ideation, and even PTSD are normal reactions to an abnormal situation. If the victim is happy, sane, and free, there is very likely no abuse because cruelty causes symptoms, and they aren’t pretty.

There is no such thing as abnormal behaviour in a combat situation.

Abuse is a problem of self-control and anger

Usually, when an abuser rages, it’s not a symptom of anger, but a desire to control. If abusers are so bad at controlling their tempers, why are they not throwing hissy fits at armed musclemen who are 6 ft.6 tall? Why aren’t they raging in front of the police? Abusers have control when they rage and they rage in order to gain control over their victims.

“Your abusive partner doesn’t have a problem with his anger. He has a problem with your anger.” Lundy Bancroft


Trying to Get Over an Abusive Relationship is Like Trying to Stop Being a Ghost

Trying to get over an abusive relationship is like swimming through mud. It’s sticky and ugly and takes forever to move forward. Making it out isn’t enough because you’re still covered in filth.

Trying to get over abuse is like wearing glasses after having spent a lifetime without them, except they show you a side of the world that’s ugly and hateful, not clear and beautiful. That kind of world—one that’s covered in daisies and light, is long gone. It was just an illusion.

Evolving from anger to acceptance is not enough. You must begin the process of reclaiming your self-worth. You must live with your new awareness that there is that much cruelty in the world, but you must evolve beyond your cynicism. You must trust a man again one day.

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You must start talking in ‘I’ instead of ‘you’ statements because it didn’t happen to someone else. It happened to you, and talking in the second person is just your way of pretending you feel free.

It didn’t happen to you. It happened to me. It was real even though it seems like a dream. You know it was real because… No, I know it was real because… because… It wasn’t real. It was a dream.

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Depression Doesn’t Make You Stupid

(Trigger warning: suicide)

Of all the idiocy around common thinking about suicide, nothing annoys me more than this little gem:

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Depression is not simple enough to be fixed by a clichéd trope. Mental illness never is, but I hate that line primarily because being suicidal doesn’t make you stupid. It doesn’t make you think death is impermanent for god sakes.

Suicide is kind of a major decision </understatement>, so by the time someone starts asking how to die instead of why, they’ve already taken a long, hard look at all the awfulness involved. They know it’s permanent. They’re comfortable with that fact. Its permanence is soothing when you’re in that much pain, so please put your cute saying away somewhere muggy and dark where nobody needs to see it again.

I’ll never understand what makes lay people think they can explain suicide to a suicidal person when they’ve never been there. By ‘been there’, I don’t mean one of those miserable whims that arrives for five minutes after you break up with your girlfriend. If you think you understand what kind of darkness lies behind suicidal ideation and have never been depressed, you’re probably wrong.

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If someone you know is suicidal, they need the best help possible. That isn’t you. You might play a part in bridging the gap between the present tense and the time when the patient gets real help, but counselling them out of it using rhymey phrases is as useless as it is condescending.

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