If I have one regret in my life it’s my inability to stand up to bullies. I’ve allowed men to emotionally abuse me, manipulate me, put me down and make me feel like less of a person for reasons that they decided, reasons that were grounded in my deepest insecurities.
I don’t often talk about it so candidly, I’ve never described myself as being bullied. I didn’t recognise what I was going through as any kind of abuse. I heard other people’s stories and saw things in films and on TV that were far more extreme that what I was experiencing so I felt I shouldn’t complain and that I couldn’t compare. However unhappy I was with the situation I was in, I genuinely thought that it was my fault and that I deserved what I got.
I’ve been made to feel like I should be grateful to them for being with me, I should be grateful for someone showing an interest in me at all. That I should put up with anything that was thrown at me. Me being overweight was used against me no matter what the discussion or argument this was generally what ended it “Well you never lose weight so…..”. During the height of my illness after I had lost a massive 6 stone in weight I was told I would look better and sex with me would be easier if I was thinner still. I put up with this because I had always been paranoid about my weight and it was a part of me I detested and it was reinforced by the people that loved me. I brought this up with them when they were trying to win me back they said they loved me despite my weight.
But that’s just it. I don’t want someone to love me despite my weight. I want them to love me. All of me, not despite anything, I just want them to love me and respect me and want to be with me for everything that I am. This feels like too much to ask for me, still, even after everything I’ve been through.
I’m not sure why I let this happen to me. Why was I not strong enough to stand up for myself? Why did I let myself become invisible, rubbed out of my own life. I grew up in a house hold that was totally equal. My parents completely shared their roles within the family. They both worked, they both took an equal share of the household chores and an equal share of the parenting. I feel that a healthy relationship should be an equal partnership, with each person pulling their weight both physically and emotionally.
I feel my problems have occurred when I’ve entered into these relationships with people who weren’t brought up in a similar environment. The men I’ve been with got the majority of love and support from their mums, which they then expected from me. I put in the majority of love and support into the relationships, without them really having to do anything.
I have a great example of me being rubbed out. We were trying to think of a middle name for my daughter. We wanted to choose a name which related to her mixed heritage. We talked about this with his parents; my mother-in-law liked the idea. My father in law said he didn’t like it and we weren’t allowed to use it. My mother-in-law changed her opinion then, and in turn my ex-husband also now said we couldn’t use it. I was lost for words but felt ganged up on and didn’t argue. I love my ex-mother in law but I couldn’t understand why she’d changed her mind and everyone was agreeing when surely it was what me and my ex-husband wanted that was the most important. It hurt, it felt like I wasn’t good enough to name my own child, I wasn’t important enough in their or the babies life have enough of a say to name the baby that was growing inside me and I just kept quiet and let it happen.
When I look back at some of the things I put up with it doesn’t seem real. I was ignored for days sometimes weeks over tiny arguments, even when we were out socialising with friends. I remember them noticing and asking what was going on, I was too ashamed to say. I always felt like I was in the wrong it was my fault things were this way.
These are some of the more extreme examples. I in turn was not perfect in our relationship, I always say it takes two to tango and there is always fault on both sides.
But bashing my ex’s isn’t the reason I’m writing this, I’m writing it because if someone sees this and see’s similarities in their relationship to know that it doesn’t have to be like that. Each person’s opinion in a relationship matters. I was strong enough to end a relationship with a bully not once but twice. Anyone can when they recognise that it is not only one person’s fault when relationships turn toxic. It is not their fault when one person is a bully and needs the power and control.
I was so scared that having HIV would lessen my value to someone even more. I was so scared that this new condition would be my future partner’s trump card. Thankfully contracting HIV has made me a stronger person, someone who is not willing to be rubbed out. Someone who is willing to stand up to people that may try to put me down. I’m hoping that this stronger person will not enter into a relationship with a bully. But if I do, I hope I’m strong enough to stand up to the bully, stand up for myself and not become invisible again.
~If you have any questions about this post or any post I’ve written please don’t hesitate to comment and ask.