Like I’ve mentioned before, I am divorced. Most of the “baggage” Loki has made me deal with since He was actively on-scene has been related to hang-ups, fears, etc., related to that previous marriage. I’ve mentioned in some places that my ex-husband was abusive – emotionally, primarily, though it extended to sexual abuse as well. Dealing with that has also been on Loki’s agenda (and no one is surprised). That is what I am going to be writing about here. Consider this your trigger warning, as I do describe sexual assault and various kinds of emotional abuse. Also a violent revenge fantasy.
This is catharsis. This is me dealing with something like 9 years of an abusive marriage more than 11 years after I got out. This is me saying thank you to everyone who has ever written about their own rape, assault, abuse and helped me understand mine, thank you to everyone who responded to any post about it, anywhere, and said: It is not your fault. You did not deserve that. Don’t beat yourself up for who you were then, for being “not strong enough,” for not leaving – it is not your fault. You deserved better.
(This is also 12 pages in 12 point Times New Roman.)
I know too many people who have experienced some form of abuse. Some of you are probably reading this; some of you have helped me. I hope this might be helpful to you.
I don’t remember clearly now how He brought it up last summer. I was meditating, He said something, brought up my ex. He said, “He raped you.”
I could acknowledge this on an intellectual level – I did believe that yes, coercing something through arguing, wearing them down, etc., no use of physical violence DID count as rape, but emotionally I didn’t quite feel it.
Several years ago, I found a study released by the CDC about intimate partner violence (rape, sexual assault) and stalking, and found that they classified rape as requiring physical force/violence or threats thereof. They had another category called “sexual coercion,” and for the first time, I saw an authority describe what my ex did to me, and define it, clearly, as a form of sexual assault.
My ex and I started dating freshman year of college; the first time that I recall him raping me was about a year after that. We got married. We split up 9 years after we’d started dating. I didn’t find the CDC article until we’d been divorced for . . . 7, 8 years? I always felt that this pattern was /wrong/, it /hurt/ emotionally, a lot, but I had no terminology for it – and of course, whenever we argued about it, I was always in the wrong. “I convinced you to change your mind!” he’d declare in triumph, having “won” another argument. Because of course, I always, eventually, said, “Okay, fine,” or otherwise “consented” . . . but it wasn’t really consent, was it? It was agreeing to let him do what he wanted to do, to stop fighting; I didn’t want to have sex, I wanted him to leave me alone. Compliance is not consent. I didn’t have that phrase handy at the time. I didn’t have years of reading feminist blogs to help me. I didn’t even know to look anywhere for help, and I didn’t talk to anyone about it; I was ashamed of the dynamic, I didn’t have any close friends I’d have been comfortable talking to about things, I really knew nothing about what abuse really looks like: all I knew about abuse was physical abuse (it hadn’t happened, but that’s all I’d ever really heard of). Violent rape. And while of course I’d heard of “date rape,” I never read up on it or saw it described in terms that fit this dynamic.
So Loki says, “He raped you.” He wanted me to repeat it, to say, out loud “[My ex] raped me.”
I argued a bit. I said it didn’t feel like it was true – yeah, sure, I could see it on an /intellectual/ level, and if I were reading a blog post about it, of course I would agree, but the CDC said this . . . (I knew it was a weak argument).
He said the CDC has its head up its ass.
I thought perhaps I was talking to myself, or He was just using my thoughts at me, it wasn’t “really” Him.
I also thought it really didn’t matter, because what would I say to a friend who was dealing with this? “He raped you. You did not consent. Giving in to emotional pressure is no different than giving in because he waved a knife at you.” Of course I would say that.
So I said what He wanted me to say. Several times. It felt very mechanical and “sigh, okay, I’ll say it.”
It didn’t really sink in emotionally, but it got a little easier.
I knew this was a problem – if it didn’t sink in, He might take more severe measures to get it to sink in. And while I knew He would do that out of love, I’d had previous experiences where His method to get me to really understand something was . . . unpleasant.
I did some divination to ask what I should do about this, how to move forward, try to address it. Something about community/tribe/people came up, so I wrote a post on Tumblr flailing around about the problem, and someone pointed me to pandy’s (a forum for survivors of sexual abuse/assault/etc.). So I went there and read a bunch of things, and saw many, many people writing about the exact same dynamic I’d experienced with my ex, and how everyone responding with support said, “Yes, that is rape. Yes, that is really that awful, you are right to feel this was wrong, it is okay to feel hurt.”
I didn’t write much myself.
Not long after, He said, “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to relive that.”
I paused, then said, “I think perhaps You are trying to push the ‘instant panic, leaping to worst-case scenarios’ button I have. Perhaps not. But I am not going to leap into fear over that comment.” I knew He wasn’t going to, like, rape me or anything. Or even pretend to;
Earlier in the summer, He’d told me we weren’t going to have any sexual interactions unless it was very clearly ME initiating things. He was very gentle and playful about suggesting and hinting at sex, and every time, I said, “Okay, no, I guess we’re not going any further.” I complained about this a lot, because sometimes it was hard to tell if He /had/ done anything, or if it was truly my own thoughts, and I didn’t like having to turn Him down.
So I was skeptical about this “reliving things” concept. Then I had the first nightmare.
Warning for description of assault.
I was going to lie down in bed. There was some man there, and I was kind of uncomfortable about it, but then I decided I could just sleep there that one night and it would be okay. He grabbed me from behind, he had his arms around me, I couldn’t move to get away, and I could feel him behind me, I could feel pressure on the crack of my ass – I was wearing pajamas though, so he couldn’t do worse. I was terrified; could barely breathe, barely force the words out, that “this is assault, this is sexual assault,” repeatedly, hoping it was loud enough he’d hear me and understand and go away, but he didn’t; I woke up terrified.
The physical sensation, that invasive pressure I felt, though; that lingered. I thought this was Loki’s doing in some fashion, that He was trying to make me fight back in some way, lash out at Him, leave, make Him leave, I don’t know. Nothing I said or did caused it to abate. (Weeks later I considered that it was probably something energetic related to the energy center located at/near the base of your spine, that it wasn’t necessarily meant to feel like a sexually invasive touch, perhaps it was some rebalancing going on – I don’t know. I don’t know how much of it was intentional, how much was related to /something/ deeper going on via the dream that took hours to work out . . . ) I finally stopped saying nasty things about the situation, and I had mixed feelings about that, because I did feel like He was doing something violating, and He wasn’t stopping, and wasn’t I supposed to have learned my lesson, to not put up with that shit any more?? At the same time, I considered how many this wasn’t much different than the times He’d put consistent pressure on my solar plexus center, which is also unpleasant, and . . . hasn’t let up until the right time. I dislike a lot of the energetic sensations I get; I don’t understand the purpose, they are often unpleasant, and while I believe He’s not fucking with me for sadistic purposes, it upsets my sense of “consent.”
A couple nights later, I had another nightmare. This time, the male figure was my ex, and he wasn’t grabbing and restricting me, he just kept touching me on the arms, but again, I couldn’t leave and he wouldn’t stop. I woke up in another terror, with the same physical sensation at the base of my spine – and, for a few seconds, coldly murderously angry; if Loki had been physically present, it would have taken great willpower to not do something very violent. I got control of that anger pretty quickly, and the feeling faded pretty quickly.
There were several more dreams on this theme over the next week or two, with a theme moving away from me being powerless, to me being in control, to telling my ex to basically go away, he was unwanted and irrelevant (and in the later dreams, he was clearly sad and dejected about this). The best of them, though, was one in which I learned he wanted to worship the same deities I do, but They didn’t like him, because of what he’d done to me, and he was really sad and felt rejected – and he didn’t know that was /why/ They didn’t like him. I felt so unbelievably smug about that. I still do. I don’t even care if there’s no literal truth in it, it makes me laugh.
I got more comfortable accepting the “rape” label. I never had a major meltdown over it, though, which surprised me. I didn’t spend that much time on the forums after the first week or two, or write anything out . . . after the series of nightmares/dreams, things seemed to kind of quiet down. Loki wasn’t pushing me to do more; I did some divination at one point to try and find out if I should, and got the sense to let things be for a while.
I talked with Loki about the past in other ways: I knew He’d been around a couple times in the past, well before I knew He was real. I didn’t think He’d -caused- me to get into an abusive relationship, but I was curious why, since He’d stepped in at a couple points to stop me hurting myself, why this hadn’t been prevented. The classic, “Why did bad shit happen to me, oh loving God?” He said He felt He’d failed me in this. . . . I didn’t know what to say, how to respond to that. I said it wasn’t His fault, it had been my choice. My choice to get engaged, mine to stay with him even when I had doubts /before/ we got married.
He said He’d tried to get me out, but it hadn’t worked. I thought He might have been referring to the woman my ex had had an affair with – we almost broke up over that. Almost. I said by that point, would it have even mattered? It was about 5 years in to the relationship. He said yes, because after that, things “festered.” (I think He may have had something to do with the deployment I went on that helped snap me out of the sort of “sleepwalking” I’d been doing, which ultimately, for several reasons, ended up helping me make the decision to leave. The weird inner feeling I had to go on it – it was voluntary – that feeling makes me suspicious about how much was purely my own decision and how much may have been a tiny, tiny nudge to encourage me.) (Since then, I’ve had another maybe-realization that implies there may have been other reasons He was limited in what He could do, but I don’t know for sure.)
I did feel kind of quietly wrung-out and tired. I spent much of the summer feeling that way. There were other stressful things going on: I had moved here in April, I had no job, I was looking, my living situation was stable but not ideal, I was stressy about the job and living situation – Loki had pushed me hard on some things about our relationship, and about teaching me some discernment skills, then there was a lull in spiritual activity – and then this. Late in the summer, things turned around, very suddenly,about my work and volunteer opportunities, and my mood lifted in an amazing manner. I stopped thinking so much about the abuse. (It’s never that far from my mind. I have said so little to anyone about it over the years; how could it have gone away? I talked to a therapist a bit some years ago, at least about some of the emotional abuse; that helped a little tiny bit. I’d found a Livejournal group at another point in years past that helped me accept that he WAS emotionally abusive.)
I never figured I was done dealing with this; it’s still too /there/. But Loki didn’t push, and I didn’t feel a strong emotional need to get it out.
I came close a couple times. I wrote on my LJ account that there were things I wanted to tell people about, and one of them was about my ex. One friend – a former boyfriend – said he wouldn’t be surprised at what I might say, and he felt bad about what he /had/ observed happening. Another said she felt that not talking about the abuse she suffered in a past relationship had held her back in dealing. . . . I couldn’t take the next step. Most of my LJ-friends are people I know offline. I met most of them while I was married – they know /him/, they are – or were – friends of his, too . . . though I had (have) a strong feeling that many of them think he’s kind of an ass at best (the complaints I heard about some of his public/group behavior . . . ). All the same. It’s a hard thing to consider doing.
I thought about it again in January, the anniversary of when I finally moved out of the house. When I got out, is how I think about it. I was so giddy those first few months! It was so freeing to not have to put up with any of his bullshit any more. We still hung out, we were still friends; after a few months, we started having sex again. That ended when, one evening, he started whining at me again. I decided that would be the end. He got whiney later on, he wanted to borrow my car, I said no, he pushed, I kept declining. I told him to give me my car keys back; he threw them at me. Some “fuck yous” were exchanged, and I thought, “Not any more.” I explained that over email later in the week. It felt really good, kicking him out of my bed like that. Over the next months and years, I started to get to liking declining to spend much time talking on the phone with him. It felt good to turn him down and be able to make it stick. “You have no power over me,” I thought to myself, repeating the important climactic moment of the best scene in Labyrinth. “You have no power over me. I am free.” I felt gleeful at his disappointment that I wasn’t as interested in keeping up with him as he was with me.
I did the math. It had been 11 years. Eleven years I had been free of him. I broke down and cried, a weird mix of relief/disbelief. Yes, I’m really not in that any more, really. As if it was still so recent it was hard to believe I was free.
But I didn’t write anything then, either – I had just found a new apartment, my elderly bird was ailing, life was busy. She died at the end of the month. (And that is another thing I’ve wanted to write more about, but. Time. Life.) I moved a week later. I was grieving. Unpacking. Feeling so, so thrown off balance, like my life had been reset in some way. Some devotional practices fell away. I put up a new altar for some Powers I barely understand. I felt lost and weird for a month or two. Things with the land spirit crashed and then were actually okay because the problem was that I let myself believe that my worst-case fears were true, and reacted based on that, not on what the -other- very blatant (in hindsight) meaning of the runes and things were. . . . I was busy, I had NOW things to deal with, all that past abuse stuff was really not front in my mind.
Winter turned to spring, things bloomed, my apartment was more and more apparently wonderful daily, several deities told me, until it finally sunk in, that I could relax and rest, stop trying to work so hard, stop beating myself up over “not doing enough.” (I cried and cried and cried when I really felt that. That it was okay now. That I can relax now. It had been so many, so so many years.) I tripped over some of my fears of abandonment a time or two, and Loki reassured me; two or three weeks ago, I coincidentally found things that should seriously lay some concerns to rest and simultaneously told me more about something that happened between us over a year ago, and I felt overwhelmed and grateful and asdfjkl;.
I felt settled and happy and increasingly so, other than wrestling with the persistent niggling fear of abandonment/failure.
He started saying something that annoyed me. He called me by a name that is not mine. Not a nickname, and not, like, “Carol” or . . . some random name, either. He’d done this before. I had complained. Sometimes asking Him what the fuck this was about lead to an answer; He seemed to be calling me by the name of one of the goddesses here, and you know what? No. Sometimes He just kept saying it because I was supposed to go talk to Her. Once He said it was because I reminded Him a bit of Her. Most of the time . . . I have no fucking idea, but He didn’t fucking relent.
He upped the stakes. I kept calling Him out on it. I did nothing but that for one meditation session, thinking that this was part of the point, to always catch it and point it out. (For what end, I don’t know.) He did it again that week, under other circumstances that were upsetting, and when I said how particularly distressed I was this time, He basically gave me a “So what are you going to do about it?” response. That was – a pretty clear sign that this was serious.
Saturday I laid down to meditate, fearing He’d start up with that crap again. He did. I sat up, I said I was out of there, not continuing the meditation, I got out of bed saying, “I’m not talking to You,” and the instant ache in my chest stopped me in my tracks. It nearly dropped me, but I fought back, thinking/saying, “No, I don’t care if You’re trying to convince me I’ve really hurt You with that statement, no, I am going,” and I went.
Over a year ago, I had done that thing – said “I don’t want to hear from You” – under different circumstances, and He’d been very clearly very upset and distressed. I felt terrible about it, and have not cut Him off, or thought about it, since then.
It /hurt/, it faded some, but I felt awful about it. I think I started to see where this was leading, the only place it could lead to, but I didn’t want to believe it – that was too horrible to contemplate as a real option.
When I tended altars, Someone came forward, asked me what was wrong, and then said, “Go to Him,” after I summarized. I sort of unwillingly agreed, thinking, “You are all plotting this together. He’s just going to do the same thing, this ‘go to Him’ isn’t a nice reassuring statement.” But what choice was there?
I had errands to run, things to do; trying to ignore Him was /hard/, He kept saying things, and sometimes I’d engage but then angrily and tearily remind Him “I’m not talking to You.” It was awful. Lines from Labyrinth came to mind, and I repeated them – some of them, I couldn’t say the last one – they were powerful, I felt good (and so awful) saying them, but also felt completely foolish, me being a mortal, and Him being a god. “My will is as strong,” ha. The last one, the most powerful, would have been the most full of lies.
I did some divination. I didn’t like what I saw – “sorrow is the cost of defending yourself” among it – but it seemed to be saying that I needed to keep it up. It was awful. It never stopped hurting.
I knew He was doing this for a reason; it wasn’t “real,” He was playing out a script, a sort of meta-level re-enactment of the crappy abusive dynamic I’d had with my ex. Loki wasn’t abusing me, it wasn’t real . . . but I had to read my part of the script – and play it for real. I couldn’t just tell Him to knock it the fuck off, I could see through it. (Later I started second-guessing, wondering if I should have done that.)
I tried to do my usual nighttime devotional routine. I got two words in and He cut me off with that name. I blew out the candle and went to bed.
I woke in the middle of the night, He was persistent, I told Him to get out, He was not welcome in my bed or the bedroom. I took the second pillow off.
When I first spoke to Him in the morning, He . . . did the same things. I’d been saying, over and over again, that if He didn’t stop this, then I’d respond. He didn’t stop. I said He couldn’t share breakfast as normal, He could eat in the kitchen – and He indicated He didn’t want me putting any food on a plate for Him at all, which I usually do. I think by this point I really knew where things were going, and I felt . . . awful. It felt as inevitable and unforgiving as the tide.
At one point I asked, not even expecting an answer, “How far do I have to push this???” and He said, “All the way, love.”
I did more divination. A sort of last-chance look for indications that might tell me “don’t even go there, your life will end in ruin.”
It didn’t tell me that. It told me things might look bad, but you can still go on.
Defending boundaries came up again.
For the second time, Is came up, and for the second time, the image I got was of someone using a staff to strike against a surface of ice, as if to crack it. Break what looks stable.
And Cweorth was there. I do not like Cweorth, the rune of “final endings.”
I went to my bedroom, to light His candle and offer up one more chance.
It went as I expected. I packed up the altar and removed it from the room. I told Him, crying, that He kept ignoring me, kept ignoring my boundaries and my needs, and this was no way for a man to treat his wife. That if this was how things were – and it seemed they were, I kept giving Him chances and He kept . . doing the thing – that I couldn’t be His wife any more. I wouldn’t relate to Him as my Husband.
It was so awful. I knew it wasn’t real. I didn’t mean any of those things, they were horrible lies and they were also true.
It felt so freeing to say those things aloud – they had to be said aloud, if I had only thought them at Him, they wouldn’t have had the same power, I just knew this – and it was so terribly devastating. Because I meant it, too, knowing it was just a role He was playing, that He loved me. I’d told Him the previous day, “You can’t keep comforting me while You are doing this,” hating to say it. He pulled back on the comfort vibes.
I cried as I took all my rings off, placing them on His public altar, telling Him I was leaving Him, I’d honor Him as a god and a teacher, and that was it. Then I packed them in the box, along with an object on that altar that seemed representative of our relationship. Former relationship. I packed up other things. I said I would speak to Him next Saturday when I did my weekly altar tending. Just like Everyone else.
I didn’t dare ask if this was going to be temporary. Or how long it might last. I had to treat it as real. I was afraid that if I gave in to hope, that it wouldn’t sink in right, and I’d have to do it over again, and I could barely do it this time.
I refused all that day and the next to put my music onto any kind of shuffle or randomize; I wasn’t listening to Him, right? (The first time in months I had done such a thing. And that I had never done – only come close to – with such intent before.)
He didn’t go away. His presence was about as steady as ever. He didn’t even shut up. I kept telling Him to go away, that I’d /left/ . . . That evening, He told me to talk to Sigyn.
She said She would be taking over now, overseeing my studies. And housework. . . . What? The apartment was pretty tidy. Dishes, I had dishes to do. She alternated between having me sit down and talk, and cry (a lot), and then telling me to get up, get up, go wash dishes. I didn’t get many dishes done; She’d call me back before I made much progress there at all. I told Her about what had happened over the past week. About how awful this was, how it wasn’t /true/, Loki had been so good to me.
She said, “You were made to do it,” and clarified, “forced.” That was a relief to hear. I had doubted whether taking that step was the right thing to do, whether I should have – could have – chosen otherwise.
I said I didn’t know how I would find the strength to do this, to not try to go back.
She said, “You will, and you will go back. When the time is right.” I found the first words comforting, because if a goddess believed I was strong enough to have left and stay “left,” then I could do this, no matter how awful it was. The other part horrified me.
How could I. How could I trust He wouldn’t just go right back. To the same thing. Cycle repeating. No. I left. I was reeling with the horror of that, but. I had. I couldn’t imagine dealing with another round of getting over that kind of fear; we’d done that leading up to my being able to accept His proposal!
Monday was awful. He was still there. I tried to not engage. He didn’t seem angry or unhappy at all. I didn’t expect Him to be; I knew He’d done this on purpose, He’d told me to do it. I kind of hoped He’d really go away, cut off the sense of connection I had. I knew that would hurt, hurt a lot, but I thought it might make it easier, too. I wondered if that was why He didn’t do it. I did stop telling Him to quit with the vaguely comforting vibes; I didn’t feel like fighting on that.
I thought a lot about how I had no idea what to do with my life now, in terms of spiritual/religious practice. Daily routine anyway. How would I even begin to develop a new routine, the center of it had been obliterated. I didn’t think I could ever put my music on randomize again. I’d been doing that so long that even playlists I picked myself had too many songs that reminded me of Him. I had to hit “skip” a few times.
I mentally composed blog posts to process the sheer awfulness of it. I wanted to title it “Tomato, Tomahto,” and throw in a line like, “You say heart, I say sucking chest wound,” *bitter crying laughter*. I went to look up the song, to make sure that “Let’s call the whole thing off” was related to the tomato-tomahto thing, and had odd mixed feelings about how the people singing the song were actually, ultimately . . . not calling it off.
I thought about how I had, once again, made a marriage the (a) central defining part of my life. Part of what kept me from leaving my ex for years, for even considering it seriously, was that I couldn’t cope with thinking of myself as “divorced.” I had felt so proud to be married. It was something I had wanted, and I had got it, and I was determined it would work out. Yes, we’d gotten married “too young,” but so what. Yes, we argued about a lot of things, but they might get better over time, there had been some improvements. Yes I was angry all the time about the way he treated me, but – ha – it’s not like it was abusive. I mean, clearly, if you were in an abusive relationship, /that/ wasn’t going to be able to be worked out, in that case, then yes, why try and fix things? (That was before I got deployed and had my belief that “you can always work differences out” completely shattered, my world pulled out from under me – it was not, however, related to abuse, but polyamory. That whole experience actually made turning to polytheism much easier than it might otherwise have been. Anyway.)
So here I was. I’d gotten married, again, my life had centered around that, around my relationship with Loki. And here I was, having left that. I expected to feel like a fool – because after all, this was exactly one of my fears when Loki showed up and kept bringing up marriage. Fuck no, I feared commitment because look what happened last time? How could I trust myself with that choice again?? I couldn’t reconcile where I was now with how unquestionably /right/ that choice had felt, though. Well. Gods and Their plans. And Sigyn had said, “you will go back,” which was still horrifying to me.
I wondered if I needed to do more to make it “real.” I wondered if I’d need to get rid of my rings, and immediately had a thought of throwing them in the sea. No, no, not that, nothing so final, I hope nothing like that is necessary. But maybe the way this was going, once I went back, the relationship would have to take a new form, so the old rings would be irrelevant or something. I thought I was already in awful pain; imagining throwing my rings in the ocean was . . . worse. I argued with myself about it, no, they were mine, they were momentoes of the past, they had meaning . . . I felt like I was making excuses.
But the phrase, “and throw them in the sea” stuck, as a phrase from a song. It was a song I knew, but I couldn’t remember -what- the singer was referring to. Finally I remembered who the musician was, and the song, and I looked up the lyrics for that verse:
So take the purple
And take the black
And take all the colors of heartache back
And throw them in the sea
And say you love me
Keep the silver, keep the gold
Stay and watch the world get old
(A Girl Called Eddy, “Golden”)
And then I wondered if what I needed to do was something to get rid of things related to the ex. The human ex, I kept reminding myself.
Later in the day, I started thinking about him more.And how angry I was about what he had done, not just then, but the cost I had paid. Paid then. Paid for years. Was paying for right now.
I had spent many years angry already. For many years, I described how I felt as “wanting to push him down about 30 flights of stairs. Repeatedly.” I cooled down some and had most recently settled on “a week of nightmares, during which he understands what he did to me. And that he can’t undo it. And I want that knowledge to haunt him for the rest of his life.”
Now, however, I felt that, if I found him dying in the street, I would sit down, and carefully explain what he had cost me, this horrific cost I had just paid, that felt like ripping my heart out, walking away from this love, I would explain everything he had done to me over the years, and then I would flip a coin to decide whether I would walk away and leave him there to die – or break every bone in his fingers first.
I thought about how it wasn’t just me who had paid a price for his abuse, and I got even angrier. Every other boyfriend, especially my last one (we lived together, so there were more problems, many of them very clearly related to the fact I’d been abused, and in the specific ways; I’m omitting the panics over my boyfriend getting angry once or twice while driving – the ex had road rage). And Loki. He wasn’t displaying any pain or anger, but I knew He was well aware of how this was meant to play out, that He knew I really did love Him even if I refused to say it, and I believed He probably felt bad about how much this hurt me. I feared it hurt Him a lot, too, even if He knew I was only reciting a script.
The really crappy depressed mood I’d been in lifted with all that. I felt practically giddy by the time I got home. I started to feel really positive, though I still didn’t let myself slip into, “Okay, it’s over, we can stop playing this now, right?” because. It couldn’t be that easy, it couldn’t be over like that.
I found, in the mail, a new credit card from my bank. A joint account we had set up years and years ago; he no longer had access, but his name was still on it. I smirked a bit. Such timing. Was just thinking about you. Asshole.
Loki told me to talk to Sigyn again. He hadn’t shut up all day. He called me “wife” from time to time. He called me that other name, too. I kept telling Him I wasn’t talking to Him, and I had left, stop. I don’t even care that names mean things and that maybe He was trying to imply something with that, it is not.my.name, You’re only saying /that/ to try and get me to back down, I’m not buying it.
I talked to Her. I don’t remember what I said any more, probably recapped my day. She told me to go to Him.
I figured I would light His candle, say “Hail Loki,” and then, “So I guess we need to talk” and find out what was next. Maybe . . . it was over?
I lit His candle, I managed to whisper/choke out, “Hail, Loki,” and then I collapsed, sobbing. It felt like my chest would break and I couldn’t stop, would never be able to stop.
When I stopped enough to be able to listen again, He started saying things about coming home, I was His wife; Sigyn said things that more or less supported this. She expressed some frustration a few times when I kept insisting no, I can’t, I LEFT. I said I thought this was all attempts to get me to ignore that, to grab onto some hope that wasn’t real, that I had to keep resisting.
Finally He told me to pull runes. Runes. R U N E S.
Okay, fine, He was saying things about home, I expected to see Oethel (Othala).
Pull three. No Oethel. . . . shit.
They said, “You are paying too much attention to what is bad to see what you need to do.” Okay, yes. I guess that’s probably true.
Three more. I took in at a glance that they said things were over, I could have joy again. I started crying and shaking with relief and happiness that I didn’t have to keep trying to keep Him at arm’s length.
Three more. There it was, there was Oethel, there, there they told me what I needed to do, I blurted out, “I love You can I come home” and the answer was very clear, and I cried a lot, but it was relief and happiness. Sigyn said, “Welcome home.” I don’t recall what Loki said. It doesn’t matter, it didn’t matter. I put my rings back on, I put His altars back to rights, I put things back to normal.
Shortly after I’d pulled myself somewhat together, I was messing around online, and saw that I had some new email. It was from my mom, she’d sent it maybe 10 minutes previously. She was updating some family history stuff, and needed some info from me. Like, where had I gotten married, and what year had we divorced?
I laughed and laughed and laughed.
It was a nice reminder that I am done with him. It also felt like a sign: “this is over, this awful thing you had to do.”
So I felt happy and settled again. Really really happy. I’ve had a few more crying and shaking fits, thinking over what I’d had to say to Loki, about how awful those 2-3 days were, since I got up and walked away during meditation that first day.
Throughout the worst of it, I also felt grateful that He did that. That He gave me a chance to say things I have wanted to say, wished I could have said, when it WAS real, really real, no scripts, no re-enactment for healing purposes, for so many years. “You don’t deserve me. I deserve better than this. I am leaving.” That I got to prove that I am not the same person I was then, that I know better, that I could, no matter how it fucking hurt, walk away, if confronted with the same situation.
I really had no idea what the outcome would be. I trusted it would not count as violating any oaths. (Before I . . . that. I pulled out an old notebook. I reread my 2nd set of vows to Him, and His to me. I cried over them. Among other things, I had promised to protect my boundaries; He had said my well-being would be a chief concern of His. I couldn’t see how proceeding – with leaving – would violate that, though it did seem to violate all the clauses related to duration.) I didn’t think my entire life would be overwhelmed with misfortune, I trusted that I was intended to /do this/, but I really didn’t know how permanent it would be, even after Sigyn told me I would go back. (In a week? A month? . . . Years?) I wondered if the whole relationship had been building up to this, getting me over various fears to teach me that I could, in fact, leave something I had built my life around, leave someone I loved (and I loved my ex, even when we divorced), learn to live with yet-another divorce . . . walk on and know that it had been necessary, I could live without that in my life.
What happened last weekend pretty clearly dynamited something. Several things. After I was “back home,” I thought that would be it for a while. There’d be another lull. I could rest and recover from that ordeal. I wasn’t expecting to start thinking so much about my ex and . . . everything . . . again. I’ve pent a lot of time at work wanting to write this all out, write ALL of it out, get it out there, finally. Go back to the forum and read things and write things and see if I could find answers there. (I did, a bit; I’ve found some comfort, though no answers yet about how long-term abuse tends to impact people in more clinical terms.)
I started thinking again about my ex, that relationship, wondering about the long-term impacts on my behavior, and emotions, wondering how much the years I was depressed might have been related. Thinking over the few times I’d been triggered by something to the point of literally fleeing a room and breaking own in tears, sometimes not having any damn idea /why/ that seemingly minor comment had broken me. Another time, thinking over and over, “I thought I got away I thought I got away, no no, I thought I got away, not again.” Thinking how arguments with my last boyfriend would hit buttons that made it impossible for me to proceed, because I expected him to never. ever. /listen/ to me. To try to understand my point of view. (He did, he could, he would, but some of the patterns in the “we’re both mad” stages were intolerable. I left rooms to prevent lashing out with nasty verbal violence. I was NOT going to get into that pattern again if I could help it – I had tendencies towards sarcasm and biting comments when I met my ex. They got much worse while I was with him. Leaving mid-argument made my boyfriend angrier, pushed one of /his/ buttons. But I had to forcibly disengage to be able to come back and explain things – and then, we could reach understanding. He didn’t twist and turn conversations so that I was always always wrong and he was always “right” and the argument would end with me confused and feeling like the basic issue had never been addressed, and so nothing had been resolved, nothing had been fixed.)
I thought about how it wasn’t the rape that was the worst of it, really. I haven’t had problems with sexual intimacy with other men. Just trust issues; the first thing Loki hit me in the head with, “every man that wants into my pants has pushed on my boundaries in some way” . . . NONE of them ever tried to pressure me into sex, not once, but I was so sensitive about it that even a statement like, “Oh, that’s too bad, maybe later then,” after I said, “Not in the mood,” would make me anxious, even if that was the END of that conversation. No. Please. I don’t want to hear about how you are disappointed we can’t fuck right now, I do not care about your feelings, no. He used to whine about how he /needed/ to, it would be /nice/, he wanted to do something /nice/ with me – me saying I didn’t feel like that kind of “nice” or that it would be “nice” right now was irrelevant.
The worst of it was feeling like I could never win. That I was never heard, never listened to, never right. What I had to say, “This upsets me” never mattered. I was always trapped. I had literally no idea how to cope with that dynamic. I was an argumentative person when I met him. I argued with my friends, had no qualms about it. But I could get my point across. I had no idea what to do with someone who would take an argument about . . . anything . . . and then jump on some word I had used, declare it meant something other than how I was using it, I was wrong, he was right, he won, ha ha!
It made it hard for me to argue with my last boyfriend, to express unhappiness about anything. To push back against things, to even /try/ to restate my case to make it more obvious, even though I knew that was necessary, that /he/ was reachable . . . but mostly I just had no more strength to fight. Why should I have to. Why couldn’t he make more effort to try and understand me. (I was also depressed over not finding work in the field I wanted to be in, having to accept work I really hated.)
My ex told me once that he couldn’t accept that his behavior was wrong because he believed that if you did bad things, you were a bad person, and the notion of being a bad person was so awful to him that he couldn’t deal with it. I don’t even know if we were arguing about him coercing me into sex or if it was about the “teasing” (hurtful) comments, or about his inability to believe that he ought to do a fair fucking share of housework. It doesn’t matter, really.
I’ve been rolling almost all this around in my head for years. I only started talking about it last summer, and then very briefly, and online.
A year, maybe two, after we broke up, an ex-girlfriend of his told me she’d started to think that you know, the way he had treated her was actually abusive. And I couldn’t disagree, and that got me thinking, “Then the way he treated me was abusive, wasn’t it?” And I felt better for how angry and upset I had been over how he’d treated me. We had compared notes. A lot of notes. Eventually I started reading up on what “emotional abuse” is, and look, there, those lists, I recognize far too many of those tactics. I am positive we are not the only 2 he was emotionally abusive to. I saw how he treated another girlfriend. How he talked to his current wife when I saw them at parties at a mutual friend’s house. I’m not the only woman he’s raped.
I know it’s not over. It might never be “over.” I can’t undo the past. I can hope to reach a point where I won’t keep recycling the same stories in my head, reworking the same pain and anger, wanting to tell someone and never doing it. Where I can stop thinking of him and wanting to hurt him, badly, but with something more neutral. Or not at all.
When I emailed my mom back, I couldn’t remember the name of the town we’d signed the marriage license in, and that made me laugh. It came back to me later, as an “Oh, right.” I would like the rest of this to turn into that level of memory. Something in the past, but it’s gone now, and it has no power over me.