Dating : And then my therapist asks:

h2>Dating : And then my therapist asks:

“What’s was the worst moment, or feeling, or both, that stands out the most about your experience with this abuse?”

She’s saying “this,” because she’s not referring to my child abuse — she’s referring to my abusive relationship with my now ex.

My eyes are downcast, to the left corner of the small room.

If my eyes dart upwards, I’m thinking, remembering, searching. If they dart to the right, I’m questioning myself, but only for a second. If I’m avoiding your face, your eyes, the windows into your soul, I’m nervous for reasons depending on the situation at hand. If I’m looking into your iris’, I’m searching for something deeper, listening with my soul, ambitious to connect. If my eyes are focused straight down (probably on my fiddling hands), I’m unsafe, and I’m scared and I want out. I am also likely feeling…

“…Shame.” I reply bluntly. “Feeling ashamed stands out the most.”

“Ah, you’re old friend,” my Therapist says with a small smile, eyebrows arched.

I return her gesture with a half-assed smile of my own, nodding in agreement.

The next question is predicable.

“Why, ashamed?”

My eyes are downcast, to the left corner of the small room.

I’m pushing twenty-nine this year. And it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this gravity of shame. A long, long time. It’s a familiar yet alien feeling. Familiar and formal all at once. Comforting and unsettling. Warm and cold.

And confusing. Confusing as hell.

My eyes are downcast, to the left corner of the small room.

“…Because,” I barely choke out. I clear my throat, try again. “Because I don’t know how I let myself get into that mess to begin with. It doesn’t compute when I think back on it.
“It’s like, after forever of carefully and meticulously having finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together, I look at the final product and don’t see it. I don’t see the picture. It’s just a blob of bull shit that makes no sense. All the pieces fit and they’re perfectly in place, and yet I’m looking at the result and have no idea what I just put together. No idea what I’m looking at.”

I’m beating around the bush with my analogy. I know it. She knows it.

I dig my teeth into my bottom lip. It itches.

My eyes are downcast, to the left corner of the small room.

A vivid memory flutters by — it’s of my ex… he’s drunk (again) and watching me sleep. Not in an endearing way though. I see that now. He’s watching me sleep like predator does to pray; calculatingly. I’m half asleep. I’m exhausted. I haven’t slept in almost three days. I’ve been holed up in a hospital for the entire New Year’s weekend waiting for a close family member to give birth. I’m exhausted. This is the first moment I have to actually sleep. He knows this, because it’s all I’ve been wanting, and I’ve been voicing it repeatedly. Sleep. I try to open my eyes but they won’t let me. In the small moments that I do, he’s there, facing me, watching intently. I’m falling in and out of sleep, in and out of sleep. Finally, I am able to force my eyes open. I ask him what he’s doing. He laughs. His infamous unsettling laugh. I see that now. My eyes close without my command. I let them. I feel a finger poke my ribs and I jolt awake, heart in my throat. He laughs again, but it’s more like a triumphant snicker. Like… a researcher does to some newfound species after prodding it with a stick for a reaction. I’m asleep. Another finger to the ribs, this time, I’m almost wide awake after. With the little adrenaline that kicks in, I ask him what he’s doing rhetorically, to please let me sleep. He doesn’t. He keeps poking as I fall back asleep. Poke, awake, asleep, poke, awake, asleep, poke, until finally, I sit up, groggily, head spinning, eyes on fire. He looks at me curiously. The researcher is intrigued with the results. “I wasn’t expecting you to spend the night,” he says to me, still staring with that bird-like curiosity. There is a microscopic smile on his mouth; look away and you’ll miss it. I only notice it, because it’s a smile I eventually learn to hate; a warning sign. Confused and discombobulated, I grab my things. I blink and I’m at my car door. He’s apologizing. I can’t recall if I stayed or I left… but knowing myself, I probably accepted his apology and stayed. Likely even rewarded him with tired sex, just so he could let me sleep…

I cast the memory away. My stomach hurts. My old friend shame gives me a nice, big hug. I’m having trouble breathing.

Shaking it off, like a dog does its fur after a bath, I say to my Therapist, “I just don’t fucking get it.”

A few small moments go by. The ticking of the clock becomes louder, right behind her head; right in front of my face.


“You know, this is not unheard of. People with — ”

“ — people with a history of child abuse (or any form of abuse for that matter) will oftentimes find themselves in abusive relationships, cycle cycle blah blah,” I offer coldly. “Yeah, I get that. I get all that, and I understand it 100%. My question is… knowing my history, why the hell did I let myself fall into an abusive relationship?” I pause, rub my hands together, suddenly cold.

“Better yet, help me understand how? How? After all the work I’ve put into myself. After all this time of busting my ass every waking moment. After dragging myself to our sessions year after year no matter how fucking hard it was each time… How? How did I let myself get here?”

The room has fallen silent.

I hear something… methodic, rhythmic. My breathing? I’m looking down at my hands again. It takes me a while to notice, but I’m crying. Hard. Deeply. That horrendous weeping that makes your ribs expand and contract so intensely, that you wonder if at any moment they’ll rip your skin open to say Hello world! or implode and impale all of your major organs to shreds.

“Why do you think you attracted an abusive partner?”

I sniffle, scoff, “If I knew, I’d say so.”

“Try,” she presses.

I click my tongue aggressively, pinch the arch of my nose.

“I don’t — I don’t know. Okay?”

Silence. Pure deafening silence swallows the room.

I start talking out of desperation to fill the air with some sort of sound other than the stupid white noise machine outside the door.

“I don’t know. Because he was a huge part of my past? Unrequited love that years later turned out to be not-so-unrequited?”

My eyes dart to the right, then back to the left corner of the small room.

“He was that guy that every girl wanted for some reason. So I guess when he finally told me he loved me, and that he’s always loved me, even after all this time, I felt… special. Unique. Like I had somehow cracked the code or some shit.”

My Therapist stares at me. “Does that seem like enough for you to understand the why and the how you attracted this abusive experience to yourself?”

No. I say to myself.

“Yes.” I reply out loud.

My eyes are downcast, to the left corner of the small room.

Session ends.

Shame walks me out holding my hand tight, like a child does to its parent for security.

When I get to my car, I scream until I can’t feel my throat.

Read also  Dating : The True College Love Story.

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