“Would you be okay with dating someone who was abused?”
“Of course,” most people answer without hesitation. “I’m not going to hold that against them. Why would I?”
Except it’s not about stigma. It’s not about the fact that somehow something bad that happened to a person may have ostensibly “tainted” them, bruised them like the peach at the grocery store you pass over when you see its underside.
In most cases, it’s not Movie of the Week level struggles.
Instead, it’s a pattern of small things that they do. The negative way they talk to themselves. The way they constantly seek validation. Bring the conversation around to the same miserable topics again and again, perseverating until they burst.
“You don’t love me, do you?” “You’re going to leave me, aren’t you?” “You’re probably going to hate me for saying this, but…” “I know you deserve someone better than me.” “I’m not special.” “I’ll never be good enough.”
And it’s freaking obnoxious. Because it happens multiple times a day every day, and even if they’re working on it, it usually takes YEARS to reshape old patterns, rewrite old relationship scripts. Furthermore, it doesn’t help one bit that working on it looks nearly identical to not working on it.
It’s a kind of slow water torture. I don’t know how anybody deals with it without falling out of love with the person, trudging through a mess that other people made, taxing your reserves of persistence and faith.
I say this because I’m the abused person, and I hate being a royal pain in the ass.