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  • Noisy Glamour

Until The Next Time

Mental Health and Trauma Blog | Noisy

TW: Violence // Domestic Violence Does an apology really mean anything if you repeat the behaviour? What if you really meant the words "I'm sorry." at the time, but minutes, hours, days later, you do the very same thing? We're allowed to make mistakes if we learn from them, that's what I believe, or at least what I used to believe. Growing up I was taught that mistakes were part of growing as a person, they were life lessons we learned from and remembered, they were important to help turn us into well rounded individuals. Yet as I grew older, making many mistakes along the way, I noticed not every apology was genuine. It isn't much of a surprise, growing up in the environment I did, that my first relationship was a violent one. I knew violence was wrong, I knew that a man shouldn't hit a woman, but even with that knowledge I stayed in that violent relationship for four years. Why? Because growing up I was taught it's okay to make mistakes if you learn from them, they were part of growing as a person.

I'd be pinned up against the wall for simply saying something in the wrong tone. I'd be punched repeatedly. When he was finished I'd be sat in the corner of the room crying, my face bleeding, but that didn't matter because I was taught it's okay to make mistakes if you learn from them. And learn he did. Quite quickly it became apparent to him I wouldn't fight back, that no matter how bad he hurt me I wouldn't report it to the police. No matter how many times I was hospitalised I'd always tell the doctors I fell down the stairs or walked into a door. He learned my loyalty was stronger than my self-worth.

But if you knew violence was wrong Noisy, why didn't you leave? I guess it was the mixed messages growing up. I watched as my dad beat up my mum, he'd scream and shout at her, she'd then flee from him as she cried. I knew that was wrong. But I also knew people were allowed to make mistakes if they learned from them, that's what I was taught. When he apologised to my mum, she'd forgive him. He promised he'd change, that he'd never do it again. As a child I saw someone commit violent acts, learn from them, apologise, and do them again. Granted what he learned was that my mum would never leave no matter how bad things got, but he still learned something. So it's easy to see how I followed the same pattern growing up. I didn't learn that it's not a lesson at all if you keep repeating it, if you're repeatedly forgiven, all it becomes then is a toxic behaviour. But I was never taught a cutoff point, the allowance you give for someone's mistakes. Growing up all I saw was forgiveness, and then the vicious cycle would start again. I wasn't taught self-worth, I was taught blind loyalty, I was taught to endure those repeated mistakes no matter the consequences. Black eyes, broken noses, fractured bones, cuts, bruises, stab wounds, burns, choke marks, broken ribs. I was never taught when enough was enough. At first I'd be given what seemed like heart felt apologies. Tears would run down his cheeks as he promised he'd never do it again. But as the years passed the apologies turned to blame. I'd be told I was the one to blame, I made him do those awful things, so they weren't his mistakes, they were mine. It was me that had to learn and grow from the mistakes I was making, the mistakes that caused him to do what he did. So that's what I did, or at least I tried to. I quickly learned it was futile. Every time I was blamed for his violence towards me he'd tell me what I'd done to deserve it. Dinner wasn't ready for when he got home from work, he couldn't find the TV remote, I didn't smile enough, I was underweight, I wasn't dressed appropriately, a stranger smiled at me while we were out shopping so I must have been cheating on him. After every excuse he'd give for his behaviour, I'd be sure to never repeat the same mistake again. I'd always make sure the TV remote was on the table so he could see it, I'd always put on a smile no matter how bad the depression got, I'd eat more food so he wouldn't complain that I was underweight, when we went out I looked down at the floor so nobody could look at me and smile, I always made sure his dinner was ready and waiting for him when he arrived home from work. I tried my best, I lost myself trying to learn from what I believed were my own mistakes, but then I learned I'd never be able to because he'd always come up with another excuse, another alleged mistake that I'd made. He'd come home from work early but he wouldn't tell me he was on his way so his dinner wouldn't be ready in time. I got beaten half to death because of that. Of course I was blamed, the fault was mine and I needed to make sure I didn't do it again. I wasn't a fucking mind reader, how was I to know he'd be home early? It became impossible. No matter how hard I tried it wasn't enough, and it never would be enough. He'd find excuses, he'd make them up to rationalise his behaviour. There was nothing I could do. And because I'd been so badly conditioned I didn't know how to make it stop. I lost all my fight, I lost who I was, I accepted that this was what I deserved. I was never taught when enough was enough. I watched my mum repeatedly forgive my dad for what he did to her, so I did the same. I never questioned it because as a child, my voice, my thoughts, my enthusiasm to learn was taken from me and I wasn't allowed to ask questions. It wasn't acceptable to go against the grain and fight back, compliance was the only acceptable behaviour. As the years went by in this violent relationship, resentment grew and so did a fire. A lifetime of going with the grain caused friction. Arguments became heated as sparks flew inside me and as I finally went against the grain a fire blazed within. "I'm sorry, please forgive me, I won't do it again, I'm sorry!"

"Until the next time." That one sentence I spoke would have probably resulted in my death if I hadn't fought back the way I did. He threw the punches, and I threw them back, he kept hitting me, but I didn't back down. I took every hit, and not a single tear fell because I saw it as a lesson, a hard one granted, but a lesson that I could fight back. I learned he feared this day, the day I finally stood up to him. The day I stood there and took every hit, I didn't cower or scream, I stayed silent. I learned from my past mistakes, this lesson wasn't futile. I didn't know at the time, but this lesson was the making of me. I learned from my past mistakes, not standing up to him, fearing him, the pain, the worry, the mental torture. I learned my lesson. Days later when he beat me up again, I wasn't surprised.

As he hit me I told myself "Until the next time."

The blows didn't seem to hurt as much anymore, they were with just as much force but because it was expected, the sting wasn't as piercing. His strength weakened as mine grew. The night I finally left was the night he tried to kill me. As he strangled me with both his hands I used all my strength to try and loosen his grip. As he repeatedly hit my head against a brick wall I told myself no matter what, I needed to stay conscious. As I struggled to stay conscious I saw flashbacks of my life, my toxic childhood, the few happy memories I had, the times I went against the grain. Those memories acted as a match being struck against a matchbox, and as my head was hit against the brick wall for the last time I gained the strength to get free, push him against the wall behind him, and run out the door. I ran out into the cold night with just the stars for company, but from that day I knew there wouldn't be a next time. That's what got me through the recovery of those horrendous four years. This is the fight of your life. - Noisy If you find my posts helpful and would like to support me, and this blog, you can do so here.


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