When most relationships end, you move on with your life.  I have stayed friends with many ex-boyfriends.  As couples, we just outgrew one another and took different paths.

When dealing with someone who emotionally abuses you, things are much different.

If I would have had healthy boundaries set in place many of the things that happened in the beginning of our relationship would have been deal breakers and it would have been over before it began.

I wouldn’t have taken on his adult responsibilities.  I wouldn’t have tried to fix things in his failing life.  I saw the good and denied just about everything else even compromising my own safety, morals and values.

“So, when did I stop feeling I wasn’t worthy of my own love and compassion?”

How much more was I willing to accept before I finally went no-contact?

Emotional abusers are so methodical.  They’re cunning and deliberate, testing your boundaries to see how far they can take you down the road to misery and ruin before finally disposing of you while your head is still spinning.

I was blindsided when my emotional abuser used physical violence, my reality changed in an instant.  He had turned into a monster right before my very eyes and I couldn’t understand why.

I soul searched for months trying to figure it out.   Why did he hurt me and lie about it?  Lying seemed so out of character and left me baffled.

Nothing could prepare me for what I was going to experience after the assault.  The awakening of recovery that was just over that last hurdle of fear.  Fear of losing him, fear of being alone and fear of letting go of the relationship that I thought could possibly be healed.

“It was the plain fear that keeps us from obtaining our goals because we don’t feel deserving enough.”

I hadn’t realized how much emotional wreckage had built up over the years.  The questions that were left unanswered.  The feelings of isolation, abandonment, and betrayal were so deeply ingrained inside of me.

I had lost my sense of balance, I lived in a world of confusion with a disarrayed belief of myself.  I would evaluate and re-evaluate every word that he used to describe me.

Recovery is difficult when you’re still with your abuser and mine was right by my side every chance he got.  Working with two therapists and trying to get a small grasp on healing while he was still trying to talk me back into his truth.

He was incensed that I was working with licensed professionals and verbalized it every time he opened his mouth.  He had beat cocaine abuse on his own and was stronger for it.  I didn’t need a therapist!

I couldn’t understand why he was like this.  He had complained about everything I was for years!

Any progress I would make would fall the to the wayside as he would turn up the volume with his repulsive remarks.  I even turned to him on one of his tirades and asked him why he was trying to build something with me if I was such a horrible person and couldn’t do anything right.  I asked why he loved me and I saw him stumble.  I asked where he saw us in the future and he would change the subject.

“None of this was making sense and I was getting more jumbled with every conversation that we had.”

I was embarrassed being seen with him after the assault.   I felt shame and humiliation because I was supposed to be done with him.  Any man who puts his hands on a woman is ostracized among his peers and a woman who stays with him is just as bad.

Being frightened to the core and listening to my instinct I crossed the last hurdle and landed smack dab in the lap of recovery!

“I missed him terribly at first and secretly hoped he missed me too.”

He didn’t, he had been covertly dating someone else as he was getting me ready for the discard pile.  He was with another just hours before our final hearing for the protection order.  It hurt but not as much as I would have thought.  I was still in shock and numb from all the previous events.

I was in a shelter and the people who worked there were holding me upright and helping me through the process.  I felt strength, I don’t know where it came from because I was emotionally spent.  I had given my all and lost myself in the progression. I had been through the ringer this time and I knew it.

Talking a mile-a-minute and absorbing as much information and counseling as I could I would forge on.  Blind as a bat and dumb as a stump not understanding at the time what I had truly been through.

I knew about abuse because this wasn’t the first time I had been down this road.  I had peeked into my past before, medicated on anti-depressants.  This time around things would be different.

No numbing meds, no games, this was it!  This was my world now, I had chosen my path.

I no longer wanted to repeat this blunder, I didn’t want to be conned by his kind again.  I felt like I had just come back in the country from a war zone!

Did I have a neon sign above my head saying target?

This is one of the questions that resonates in the hallways of recovery.  The answer is complicated at the least.

First, I don’t have a sign!  I am a very sensitive, companionate and understanding person.  I will give you a listening ear, you can talk to me about anything.  I also believed that many people are just like me.  It would have never occurred to me before this happened that some people are predatory in nature and would want to hurt me.  This concept was so foreign to me.

Second, because trust comes easily I stumble over the fundamental boundaries of safety.  I would ignore that “gut instinct” or it wouldn’t even be there.  I missed red flags because I always expected them to be grandiose.

“So, I’m a too trusting, have a big heart that I wear it on my sleeve kind of person.”

This makes me or any person like me a great target for any predator!  I lived my life with blinders on!  I always thought it was because I had come from sheltered beginnings but I would find out later this was not the case.

Third, and most importantly, you have been assessed before you even knew it!  They are the lion and you are the gazelle.  If you have ever been with one of their kind you will even notice they have a certain type of stare.

“Before they even make contact, you have been weighed and measured!”

While you are talking away they are working on their next move.  They are 10 steps ahead in how they can use you up and spit you out!

When I had fallen head over heels for my abuser, he started testing my boundary’s almost immediately.  This enabled him to see how far he could push me without leaving him.

When you love someone, there is trust in who they are.  You want to share everything with them and I did.  Every intimate detail of my life, my past, my goals, and interests.  These are the things he would use to abuse me to further his desired result.

It wasn’t until I could put a name to it that I could start healing.  This wasn’t just abuse.  I had always related abuse with someone who beat another and he wasn’t fitting into the neat package.

“He fit into different criteria, and what I suffered from was Narcissistic Abuse.”

Why was I just hearing about this?  Why is this not a mainstream topic?  The more I researched the more articles I found of both men and women who had been through the exact same thing as I had.

The predictability, the serial nature of this crime and the screaming victims telling the same stories with little variation.  Websites, blogs, and twitter just filled with victims that lived through their experiences.

Many have not been so lucky.  The nightly news is littered with stories of men killing their families or exes because they feel slighted.  We all gasp and can’t imagine how these things happen.  What causes someone to break that badly?  This isn’t a break in mental faculties, this is revenge!  This is raw out in the open narcissism.

“Even while posting on my blog, using my own name has put me in danger for his reprisal!”

I have outed him, given a name to who he truly is and this is someone who makes his living and gets his supply from other people.  Revenge is something they thrive on!  These people want to destroy you!

Only months into our relationship he was already controlling the narrative about me.  He was telling his friends that I was bat shit crazy!  Anytime I tried to hold him accountable for any of his insidious indiscretions he would run to his friends to find comfort and affirmation because I was the bad guy!

So, now you ask why am I doing this?  This is for me, this is part of my healing and self-discovery.  I have been a writer most of my life.  I can be a more expressive communicator through my stories and I want to educate people and help them find the strength and courage to deal with this subject head on.

Although I’m still recovering from my own abuse I feel it necessary to go through the gritty details.  I am still finding my voice, my words and coming out of an unbelievable brain fog.

The first story I wrote “Monster Do Have Faces” was almost unemotional and didn’t even begin to touch what I had endured, but I had to start somewhere.

The pain that I felt then was unimaginable!  Being able to share that with you in my writing will come with time.  When I was with him I couldn’t grasp the words, what, where, how or others of a simplistic nature.  They would get lost in my brain because of the trauma that I suffered.

Trauma…..I used to work on trauma patients, their broken bodies lying on a gurney as the trauma surgeon would assess their brokenness.  I looked the same way on the inside when I left.

I am broken!  I am healing and every day is an unforeseen journey of possibilities and growth, sadness, and fear.  I’m doing the rehabilitation that will change my life!

It’s in no way an easy feat.  I have plenty of razor wire that needs to be cut out of my body.  Each piece is as painful as the next!  Putting on the fake smile and hiding the pain of my trauma is over!