What It's Like To Love Someone After An Abusive Relationship
Dear New Boyfriend,
There are some things I want you to know. It’s important you know.
Dating after an abusive relationship is hard. Its uncomfortable and rigid. My muscles get tense when you surpise me with physical touch because I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I take your words at face value because I haven’t accepted that I’m allowed to question things yet. I’m learning all over again, and it is going to be slow.
I love you.
This one is hard for me to say, and it is really difficult for me to accept as well. I have been hurt before, and I’m still reeling from that whole experience. It’s so scary, but I want you to know; I love you so damn much. I don’t think I fell in love with you — I stopped myself from falling even though I started to so many times. Instead, I cautiously stepped out of my comfort zone to let myself see how it could be. I may have started to fall, but I have grown in love with you, and that is so much sweeter. I choose to love you every day.
The patience you have with me as I figure out the best way for me to be me has been a blessing. You have reminded me that I am good enough as I am — anxiety and uncertainty and all. Thank you for hugging me even when I’m not sure I know how to hug back, and letting me cry without judgment and without shame. Even though I don’t want to, I know it helps. You acknowledge when I’m pulling away and call me out on it, asking me not to run away, and if I do, to come back soon. I don’t always see myself leaving, and the gentle nudge from you brings me back, and I’m so thankful. I’m so thankful you keep asking me to stay; I want to stay.
I want to be with you.
I like being in your calming presence. I know I pull away and I know I push you away; but I want you in my life. I’m slowly coming to terms with that. My life is better with you in it. I want to let you in, to give you the key to come through the wall I have built up so high. But there is no key. I have to very carefully, very slowly, take the wall down, one brick at a time and put each one to the side. I’ll peek through the cracks and see you there, waiting to come through. Then I’ll be able to feel you reaching through and together we will make space for us, for the wall to fall down around us.
I am still testing the waters, so I understand that you sense I have been uncertain about trusting you. I’m waiting for you to get angry, so I know what to expect when it happens again, and it escalates. I know you are not my past, but learning to move forward into the future is taking me more time than I thought it would. I want to do this right; I want to do it right with you. I want to be able to leave everything from before behind, but it isn’t possible. You will be exposed to it. I will need you to help me through it from time to time and it won’t be pretty and it won’t be easy.
I watch you from bed and thank you politely for the coffee you bring me, the blankets you cover me with, and the safety you continue to provide. You see my smiles and laugh a little, telling me you’re not doing anything special. And that’s the best part — you are just being you. You take my small gestures of intimacy, and know they are so much bigger, a hand slipping into yours, an unexpected kiss just because, and you accept me.
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