I have an abusive past. Every day, I work on putting it away. But just as how a recovering alcoholic needs to constantly stay away from the booze, I have to constantly work on myself. Some of the damage is permanent, some I work on every day, day-in and day-out tirelessly – To rebuild and redefine myself.
I have changed. Into a better, more confident person. I no longer feel so much fear as before, panic attacks and terror that paralyses me. I look forward, and try everyday not to look behind.
So, what then is making me look at my painful past today?
A blast from the past…
The man who tried destroying me decided that he wants to show his authority. Decided that he could threaten and abuse my father and get his way. In the past, I would shake with fear. Now, I felt anger. Red-hot, boiling rage. I don’t feel cowed or submissive now. “Bring it on..I will not only take you for all you are worth, but I will sweep the floor off with you!!” is what I felt.
For, I am a changed person now. And he is the same. And that is a difference. A very, very big difference!!
I was married to a passive-aggressive, physically and emotionally abusive man for twelve years. I used to be slapped and verbally abused in public places and in front of strangers, friends and relatives. Emotionally tortured day and night. I used to be even shaken awake from deep sleep and questioned on what I was thinking or dreaming of in my sleep! I used to be called names, and made to grovel physically in front of him. Lick his feet. Unspeakable, humiliating things which I try my best to forget, to bury deep inside somewhere.
He used to make me call myself names, make me say that I was a bitch, that I did not deserve to live, that I was worse than a parasite. He used to make me stand and tell speeches about his virtues and my faults; and then he used to beat me up. I used to be told day and night that I was worth nothing, was repulsive, made anyone want to puke, that I would die a dog’s death. I had a job, but was not financially independent. All the money was drained out by him and his family. I was isolated, and not allowed to make friends or have contact with my own family. I used to dress up in rags. I used to be left in isolated places at dark, regardless of the weather; kicked out of moving vehicles, punished in different ways by the entire family, for various things.
That his family was greedy for money, hated me, and helped him in torturing me and watched it with delight is another matter in itself.
To the outside world, they looked different. Sophisticated, well-dressed, tall, fair-skinned, charming, quick to joke… “No smoking, no drinking, no non-vegetarian food. Lots of prayer, rituals, customs… Saints”.
But I have not seen Sinners worse than these.
Greed, gluttony, cruelty, no ethics, no humanity.. a dark, filthy, repulsive soul is what every one of them had inside that facade.
People ask me often, why I stayed for twelve years.. I was too scared, too much destroyed, too much damaged. I had told myself so much that I was useless, that I really believed it. That there was no hope, no life for me. That this was all it was.
How I built the courage to make the decision to come out of that place, how this one person helped me understand that I did have other options to live and that nobody could take away my baby from me, how my tirelessly, supportive parents stood by me and took me out of that place, along with my little one is not for today.
What I want to tell you today is that I am no longer cowed, no longer scared, no longer anxious, of what that monster will do! Yes, I felt a pang, a twinge of anxiety shoot up and down, when the incident happened. That’s the remnant of the permanent damage that I have. But then I felt anger, amusement and my sarcastic self asserted itself!!
He does not know this new me. But I still know him and his family – in and out. More than they know themselves. I know how their minds work, their intentions, their actions, their tactics. I can read their dirty minds like a book.
He has no longer any hold on me. He can never get inside my head again. He cannot terrorize or scare me. He cannot threaten my little girl’s life and future. He is just a reminder of how strong I am now. How I have built myself up. How I have left my damaged self behind.
He is neither a part of my memories, nor a part of my dreams. He is no longer significant to be even a part of my nightmares. He is the character, who appears and re-appears in some chapters of my life, to present his charades and to play his part, to remind me again and again, that I am not what I was, that I live my life today with pride, respect, courage and confidence, that I live a life looking ahead not behind.
That like a Phoenix, I have risen – from my ashes, to live a new life, in a world of my own.