It’s been six years since my last post.
So much has happened in those six years, more than I can possibly cover in a blog post. I’m sure the details will trickle out as I return to the blogging format, but it’s enough for now to say that this time period was one of both death and rebirth, and that I’ve come through the crucible as a more complete person.
My retreat from blogging was also a retreat from yoga. Yoga had become increasingly difficult. I couldn’t be still. I couldn’t sit quietly with my own thoughts. I couldn’t face the realities of my life and the choices that had brought me there. So while I still taught yoga weekly, my personal practice waned. I was no longer living the yogic lifestyle that I was espousing in this blog. In fact, I was doing my best just trying to survive.
So here’s the confession, and it’s a big one: from 2009 to 2014, I was in an abusive relationship. His manipulation was subtle at first. He went from making comments about my appearance, to making suggestions about the media I consumed, to making demands about the way I talk. He alienated me from my friends and eventually cut off contact with my family. He engaged in every crazy-making, narcissitic, gaslighting behavior in the books, and then he started with the physical abuse.
I stayed because the physical abuse “wasn’t that bad.” I stayed because of the children. I stayed because I had backed this horse, and damn it, I was going to see this thing through to the end. I stayed because I wasn’t a “quitter.” I stayed because I was embarrassed. I stayed because he convinced me that I was the crazy one. I stayed because he had demeaned me to the point where I felt unlovable. I stayed because I didn’t know where else to go. I stayed because I had kept the abuse a secret. I stayed because I was afraid.
And then I couldn’t stay anymore. He was arrested for a charge unrelated to his abuse, but it was wake-up moment for me. I could ignore or rationalize or wish away the daily misdeeds I suffered at his hands, but I couldn’t ignore the mugshot. I packed his things, changed the locks, and never looked back. Once I was free, it was shockingly clear how damaging and insidious his behavior was, but I couldn’t sense the degree of abuse when I was in it.
So why am I speaking out now? Maybe because there has been a shift in our culture, and men like him are finally facing consequences. Maybe it’s because I’m far enough removed that I can actually talk about these things without shaking uncontrollably for hours. Maybe it’s because I feel like my story could help someone who is in a similar situation and is struggling to get out. Whatever the reason, my voice has finally returned, and I’m ready to talk about it.
I grapple with outing my abuser. I have personally experienced the limits of the #metoo movement. Powerful men in high places are toppling, but for those of us who live normal, quiet lives, very little has actually changed. I have moved far, far away, but I must still occassionally co-parent with my abuser. He has skipped child support payments with no consequences. He has continually engaged in child abuse and neglect, but he still has access to my child. He has harrassed me via email with no repercussions. For the police and the courts, none of these things is “enough” to warrant taking action, and so my abuser gets to continue these behaviors. In fact, he flaunts them. He does this because for the rest of us, #metoo doesn’t matter. Not yet, anyway.
But let’s make this clear: my abuser deserves to be outed. He has a pattern of abuse stretching back 25 years, and has left women and children shattered in his wake. He is also a massage therapist, and his clients deserve to know who they are (literally) exposing themselves to. So what’s stopping me from outing him? Perhaps fear. Perhaps embarrassment. Perhaps doubt. His cruel voice still pops up in my head from time to time, telling me that I’m not good enough, that I’m crazy, that I brought the abuse on myself.
I’m working through these things, and maybe one day soon, I’ll be ready to name my abuser and expose his behavior. For now, it’s enough to have a voice. It’s enough to return to the mat and do my best to find repose in the asanas.