I write for purpose and my main purpose is sharing knowledge. Most of the time it’s really silly and tongue in cheek, but this won’t be, not really (well maybe a little). It’s hard to talk about being mistreated. It’s even harder to talk about being abused. But as a grown up person, it is imperative that we share lessons learned so maybe one someone can heed the the words without experiencing the reality.
So here we go:
I lived in a two family flat as a kid. My grandparents lived downstairs. I’d go down on Friday and Saturday nights to have ice cream or graham crackers and milk while watching Johnny Carson. During a commercial, when I was about eight, my Grandmother told me to come sit on her lap. At that age I was almost her height, and maybe just thirty pounds lighter than her 110 pounds. I sat down in the big green chair, her boney knees in my chubby thigh, and she said “Now get on up you little elephant.” I knew she wasn’t calling me cute… even though there’s few things cuter than a baby elephant
… and in response, I got up and went back up to my house. No unnecessary criticism happened up there! I didn’t tell anyone, at the time, but I knew in that moment that she would be as verbally and emotionally abusive to me as she was to my Grandfather, and attempted with my mom and aunt.
She continued throughout my life to attempt to corner me into some discussion that was sure to hurt my feelings or make me feel bad on purpose. I would challenge her at times, and at others just retreat upstairs to my room. I wasn’t sure why she thought it appropriate to speak to me in that way. However, I heard her tell stories about how fun, secure, and social her sisters were in comparison and how they made fun of her, accepted socially only because she was attractive. It wasn’t lost on me that my mom and I, the targets of most of her negativity, looked much more like her sisters than we did like her. Lighter skinned, curly haired, and thicker than a snicker. I realized she wanted to thwart my own security in an effort to find the voice her sisters silenced.
Both of my Grandmothers were similar in that way. The other a self inflicted victim who sought to chop down those of us who found and sought success, finding some way to attempt to make you feel like that success made you responsible for the happiness of others. Both quick change artists. Wearing teddy bear suits over their snakeskin. It was best to grab your keys at their first hiss, because you were sure to get bit if you lingered.
I eventually retreated from those two. I went off to college and started to feel really comfortable in my own skin. I met a boy who thought I was as fine as I thought I was…and who hearted😍 me. He moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor, I thought to be near me. He supported me in school. He worked and ensured we had the things we needed. However being in a space where I had roots and he didn’t started to weigh on him. Turns out he didn’t join me but he followed me. If that sounds like stalker shit…
but at that time I didn’t get it. I was all lollipops and unicorns and didn’t have a clue what he called love was really possession. He didn’t want to be with me, he wanted to have me. Now as smart as I’d like to believe I was, I wasn’t aware of this at 19. I was bossy, ballsy, and braggadocious, and certainly didn’t plan on taking any shit from him. But with the shits he came. First, his small comments turned into full on criticisms. Again, at first I wasn’t aware of how what he was saying correlated to his attempt to possess me… but much more quickly this time, it made sense. He wanted me to himself, didn’t trust anyone I had around (really a distrust of me), tried to micromanage me, control how I spent my time, and push my buttons when none of that worked. I realized that he wanted to break me down to build me back up as he wanted to see me, not accept me as I came. He also wanted me to believe my friends simply didn’t want to see us together, as he could see in their eyes they despised him. Alienation, control, and subjugation. He pushed so hard, I walked away.
I never saw those experiences as abuse, not until this last go round. I ended up in a MCL 551.2 soured by poor choices. As I reacted to those poor choices, he reacted physically. It escalated from a loud voice to hands going through the walls. The pristine apartment we lived in went from looking like a showplace to looking like The Price is Right Punch A Bunch game. These macro aggressions the result of me saying No, failing to respond to his foolishness, or any other set of actions on my part, none of which gave him license to hit or feign hitting me. Also a result of scenes he’d seen before, causing conflict in his head about whether the dart or the bullseye causes the hit.
It culminated with a trip to a bespoke store, where he had to give some brief information to get into the then exclusive tailor. As he stood at the door, he looked back at me, expecting me to speak for him, and I remained silent. Use your words… But he didn’t and was rejected entry. We went to the car and he got hysterical about being embarrassed. I informed him that while I frequented the business, I couldn’t sponsor him and had given him the necessary information, it was on him and not me. I pulled out of the lot and he grabbed my seatbelt that I had just fastened, and pulled it. I yanked back for him to let it go. He then pulled tighter. It moved from over my shoulder to around my neck and cut me. I pulled over and demanded he get out of the car, and he refused. Yet as the police road by, he got out, afraid I’d make a scene… and he was CORRECT. I left him standing there and drove myself home. Later that evening, when he arrived home, smelling like ten thousand years of equatorial war, I informed him that his things were in the basement until he found a place to dwell. Love don’t live here anymore and I won’t be sleeping with the enemy. I also told him I’d bash his head in and think about Heaven later, if he so much as looked at me wrong. Otherwise everybody would be Kung Fu fighting up in that bungalow.
“Hit em with the left, hit em with the right…”
And we ain’t talking about cats or pocketbooks.
Not all abuse is physical, although we may experience the hell of that as well. Whether one has experienced verbal castigation or cruelty, physical assault or aggressions , or that Color Purple “climb on top and do his business” sexual violation… it all feels like violence and leaves psychological scar tissue. Sometimes it appears only in context to the abused and the observer, but guarantee that it will escalate to suffocation. Whether domestic, financial, or ritualistic, it’s a powerless persons attempt to gain power over you, because they see what they want to be in you. Influence, status, wealth, self-worth, health are all targets.
What is generally believed is that abusers target the weak, and while that may be true in child and elder abuse, the fact is that they tend to see a strength in you they want to conquer to feel more powerful themselves. Whatever the case, whether it comes from family as a child, partners as adults, caregivers as elders, or employers as an employee… an abuser gets his or her kicks by preying on people that aren’t necessary weak but who represent an opportunity to strengthen a weakness in themselves.
Other people don’t get to take out their failure to heal themselves out on you. But their attempts to, are often abusive manipulation of attention, favor, finances, companionship, or worse love. Love doesn’t operate in the same sphere as hate, fear, violence, or abuse. Love doesn’t makes you feel bad, ever. Love is kind, and fuck any people that attempt to make you believe otherwise.
In closing, heal your shit so you don’t become the very thing that caused your pain!