Here’s a list of things I’ve learned in the past two years. After reading C’s post, I thought it might be useful for us both.
The feeling of dread and pain whenever you see him will not go away. It begins to numb, but it becomes something you get used to. That goes for far away encounters, pictures online, and people who sort of look similar to him.
As for online life goes, sometimes it’s easier to just kind of drift away. I know in the aftermath of my abuse, I spent years offline. At first it was out of fear that he’d find me, but then it became kind of nice to breathe. I stopped having to worry that every post I made on facebook or every time I uploaded to instagram or twitter, he might see. I didn’t have to think about his reaction anymore. It came to a point where I would defensively post about how “okay” I was and how great things were just to spite him. This was not the case. No matter how beautiful I looked in each picture or how witty my status update was, I was certainly not okay. So I took a break. I think I should still be on that break, but I’m sick of escaping.
The most important thing I’ve had to learn is honestly so obvious. Always, ALWAYS, take the time to listen. To everything and everyone. Always. Nothing is unimportant. I’ve always wanted to be heard, but in that I decided not to take in the world around me. I’m still working on this. I suppose it’s because I spent so much time wanting someone to know that the abuse was happening. I never want anyone to feel unheard by me. No matter what.
As for what to do when you see him, because no matter how much you hide or avoid it, the world is just that kind of place. At first, I would be afraid. Every time I saw him he wanted something from me. Usually sex, sometimes to yell, sometimes to apologize. I associated fear with the chance of seeing him so strongly that the idea of it still makes me nauseous. Now I’ve become a little stronger. It’s not him that I fear, but the memory of him. As if he doesn’t even exist outside of my flashbacks and nightmares. Which is strange, because when I see him it’s like seeing someone you were sure was just in your imagination. Not so much fear, but confusion and disillusionment. Even a little bit of annoyance.
I’m not past that step yet. When I get there I’ll let you know. I hope this helps a little, C.