By Kristin Diversi
He was a whirlwind.
A terribly beautiful hurricane of chaos, drawing from the strength of the sea and moving swiftly through lives, taking what he needed and leaving meager gifts in turn.
We all just felt blessed to receive a visit. People like that—charismatic, manipulative, powerful—will make you feel that way. Their critical, discerning gaze falls on you, and—if they decide—you become more beautiful, more special, than you ever dared to dream.
I was ready to be shaken. To be rocked. To be swept up in something bigger than me, bigger than the life I was living practically by rote: work, school, study, party, repeat. Always the same conversations at the same bars with the same people.
Yes, I like music. No, I didn’t see that movie yet. Word, whiskey is a bitch of a hangover.
I wanted something more. I didn’t know.
Emotional abuse is seductive. It doesn’t walk in with big fists and short tempers.
Many times, the warning signs come slowly. It would be different, perhaps better, if abusers struck like flash floods, quickly, without warning. Early on, if they screamed Bitch! during a discussion. Maybe then we wouldn’t have lost so much of ourselves already. Maybe we would be able to grab on to a tree branch before we were swept under.
He lifted me off my feet, literally and figuratively, charming and exciting and everything that suburban Jersey lacked. In one afternoon, I became fascinating, gorgeous, irresistible. Necessary to this man that had a reputation for being a player, a heartbreaker, and every bit a bad boy.
It was intoxicating.
The storm swept in and I let myself be carried.
We had sex the first night. We were a thing within the weekend. He asked me to move to his city in two weeks. He loved me, madly, in a month.
I was lost in him. I wanted so badly to be loved, desired, respected, by someone like him—someone special.
I wasn’t full, so I let him fill me. I couldn’t see the good in myself, so I let him project himself onto me. And just like that, one day, he started to take it away.
The cycle isn’t new, and it’s not glamorous. It was a pattern of me saying something irrational or being crazy, and he would explode at me, raging hours, reducing me to blubbering apologies and desperate pleas for a second chance.
Anything to keep his love, his regard.
If my words weren’t carefully thought out, delivered in the right tone of voice, at the right moment, he lost it. From telling him I struggled with an eating disorder to not wanting to pick the restaurant for dinner to doing the dishes incorrectly, if it wasn’t what and how he wanted to hear, his temper blew.
I went from being a cool, groovy yoga teacher and promising in my academic field to being scorned: Yoga was stupid. Those people are crazy. You need to get a better job. You need to work more. Your dreams are less than. You have problems, you know that, right? You’re lucky that I love you enough to stay with you.
He withheld physical affection and would shove me across the bed if I accidentally touched him in the night.
I’d work up my nerve to end things and be met with cold indifference or a temper tantrum. Always followed by apologies and tears once I began to pack.
I knew it wasn’t right; but was it abuse? A boyfriend had punched me during a drunk fight years ago, and I knew that was wrong. But this? Maybe he was right.
He certainly structured his arguments so that I would see it that way: I wasn’t doing enough, I wasn’t good enough, I had personality problems, emotional issues, I was too sensitive, and if I just did what he said, he wouldn’t have to get so upset with me.
Maybe it was all my fault.
I’d like to say that I had some miraculous breakthrough, that one day I stood up for myself and didn’t let him bully me.
In honesty, it was another night of him ignoring me and refusing to acknowledge anything I did or said. A pattern I would try to break, repeatedly, by crying, screaming, and throwing bottles of lotion at the wall.
Yes. I am a human. I didn’t always act in a way that was becoming. But I didn’t abuse. Anything to get him to just pay attention to me.
I called my father, crying. “Why are you still with him?” he asked. “He’s not your guy. It’s that simple. He’s just not your guy.”
Just like that, I saw my life. What it had become. I was living with a man who, it seemed, hated me. And truthfully, I had grown to despise him.
The part of me that had been bullied into silence for so long woke up and said, “Life’s too short for this. It’s going to be okay. Get out. Now.”
And it wasn’t okay. Not for a long time. The break up was messy, and, of course, it was all my fault: we had something, and I wrecked it.
What did I learn, from that messy year?
Anyone that calls their ex a crazy fucking bitch whenever they are mentioned is not a nice person. And will call you a crazy fucking bitch as soon as they are done with you.
My soul is not for sale.
My self-worth doesn’t have a price.
Love—real love—doesn’t demand one.
Kristin Diversi is a star-child. She is convinced that she has control over the space time continuum, but she has a hard time remembering to eat breakfast. A unicorn/monkey hybrid, she spends her days hopscotching dreams and moonbeams. After graduating magna cum laude with a BA in History and an MS in Nutrition, she delighted her parents and the student loan companies by deciding to follow her heart and do absolutely nothing related to any of her degrees. Currently pursuing a 500-hour certification, she was a yogini before Yoga was cool. She invented the low back tattoo, as well as second lunch. She is deeply flawed and terribly whimsical. During her downtime, she enjoys slow and juicy Yoga, discovering new worlds in the words, traveling to wild places on whims, and stirring the world awake. Dream big. Be bigger. Find her on Facebook or email her.
Editor: Dana Gornall