Ah, Facebook memories. You pop up reminding me that two years ago, I was working on a film in Chicago, living through one hell of an abusive "episode."
Even when I wrote this blog (below) back in July 2017, I was still uncovering the truth of the relationship I was in for three years. I had only spoken with one woman at that point but it was enough to validate what I felt all along. (So many more including family and colleagues would come forward later.) It was enough to make me see that all of the accusations and such were really just projection on his part. He was doing what he was accusing me of doing. I think this is super important for anyone who is in or recovering from narcissistic/sociopathic abuse. Flip what they say around and you'll have the truth. I didn't know that back then.
This particular memory of abuse is one that will probably always haunt me because I was so confused. So hurt. And so groomed to do exactly what I did: smooth and appease. Being called "sick" is just one of the many "terms of endearment" hurled at me over a three-year period.
FLASHBACKS OF ABUSE
July 27, 2017 (originally published, updated on 8/1 with his response)
R's response to this post:
"You are sick Kiersten. And you were sick in Chicago. And you're sick from the abuse you suffered as a child not any from me. And the blindness from your parents for their own facade all your life. Being sick does not make you bad. But it sure keeps you blind. And, you've lost the only one with the insight, guts, and the true love enough to tell you. You've surrounded yourself with only enablers. Truth needs NO validation. What happened in Chicago got to anger on both sides. And you helped big time! Just as you did all along knowing each button to push, when calm loving truth showed itself, you RAN again to projection and blame....
With love only,
Original Post on 7/27:
Since publishing my post about having an affair, I have been touched and overwhelmed by the number of messages coming in from women who've lived through similar relationships. I'm so grateful to connect with all of you—knowing I'm not alone is so comforting.
Turns out, several of us followed the same path: repressed memories of childhood abuse started to surface and shortly thereafter, we were diving head first into relationships that tested our very being. It's remarkable to see how we've literally drawn abusive scenarios to us in order to heal from the repercussions of childhood abuse we couldn't face until we were adults.
As I'm processing all of this and moving forward with my life, I keep having flashbacks to specific moments in the relationship that were so confusing to me despite the repetitive nature of our interactions. The pattern was predictable: I would do something he didn't like, I would hear about it from him, we would fight, I would blame myself, and finally, I would block it from my mind and move on. And the cycle would continue.
For example, we were in Chicago for an entire month for a work project, and early on, I did the unthinkable. I left the door unlocked to the dorm room we were calling home. I felt safe and comfortable on our floor alongside other professionals we were working with on the project. I'm pretty attuned to my spidey senses and I truly didn't feel any threat. Anyhow, one night, he went out with one of the other guys on the crew, and I stayed back to relax in the room and watch TV on my laptop.
He came back to find that I had not locked the door. I could feel the tension and judgement immediately even though he wasn't using harsh language or yelling. I wanted to rewind to a couple hours earlier when he was so happy to have me there. Then, he decided to go take a shower and tested me—he told me he was going and apparently the test was me locking the door after he left the room. Of course, at this point, I was still not feeling like it was that big of a deal so I didn't turn the lock. If I had realized it was a test, I would have baracaded the door. All I could think was that he was going to be right back. Surely, he must have meant lock the door when he's not anywhere nearby. The door opened and it became very apparent he was NOT happy. Over the next few minutes, much of what was said was in a condenscending tone. This was becoming pretty common because he is eight years older than me so naturally, I am the idiot.
I started to cry (as usual) and pleaded with him to understand that I didn't feel any threat. It was so innocent; I thought I was safe. Should I have locked the door? Sure. Did I think it would end up with us in a massive fight? No. I never for a second thought I was committing the crime of the century.
Over the next 24 hours, I was an emotional mess. I was first told by him, "You WANT the other men to come in, don't you?" which was then followed by the silent, angry treatment. This stage means no discussion but lots of huffing and puffing, stomping, doors slamming, and just general disdain for me. We went to sleep in different beds. The next morning was worse, much to my surprise. I thought by sleeping on it and calming down, he would see things from my side.
He did not. He left the room in a huff. I couldn't take it anymore—I had to get out of that room, too. I left and took a walk before we were supposed to start working on the project together that morning. I saw his car on the street perpendicular to the one I was on. My heart stopped. He pulled up, parked the car, and walked towards me with so much hate in his eyes. He said, "Kiersten, you're sick." I was devastated. How could he perceive me this way??!?! How could he think that I purposefully left the door unlocked because I wanted other men to come in? That's just not me. It's never been me. I'm a rape survivor, for crying out loud!
I told him I was going to look for flights home. I was a mess. That morning was one of the worst days of my life. I'm sure I looked like I'd not slept yet I had to keep it together to do the job I was there to do. We went to work and sometime during the day he came to me and said he didn't want me to leave. I felt relief but also fear. I was now walking on massive egg shells. I wanted so desperately for it all to just go away. After things calmed down, I literally just blocked it from my mind. Something I didn't realize I knew how to do.
In my old life, this same scenario would have been handled like this, if at all: "Kiers, hey, so I know you probably feel pretty safe in this building, but maybe we should lock the door just in case." I would have responded, "You know, you're right. Better to be safe. I'll do that from now on." End of story.
What I've come to realize about this incident and so many more is that it mimicked the abuse I endured as a kid. While I wasn't sexually abused, I was being emotionally abused and chastised. And what did I do? I did everyting I could to please him and plead with him, admitting it was all my fault for not locking the door. I felt so ashamed and wondered if maybe, subconsciously, I was wanting men to come in like he was saying but I didn't realize it. My physical body was giving me different signals. I was sick to my stomach (upper stomach where your power center/solar plexus resides) with the inner knowing I am not who he was suggesting me to be nor was I looking for attention.
Was it Little Kiersten groundhog day? I sure as hell didn't want to think that. I just wanted to swallow the blame and move on to the happy, Facebook-postable days that I knew would come if I just kept my head down and let him work through his anger. I was the idiot who didn't turn the lock, afterall.
For years, I would hear comments from him about me not using the correct lock, or "I sure as hell hope that when I'm not there, you lock the f*ing door."
Looking back, I should have left Chicago right then and there. I found a flight but I didn't leave because I didn't understand what was happening to me. All I knew was that I loved him and I hurt him, and I wanted to make it all OK.
I continued to take the blame over and over again, just like I did unknowingly as a child. It was so strange to be in a situation like this because the Kiersten I knew wouldn't put up with abuse. Even when the guys at the CNC shop tried to pull one over on me regarding pricing, I would call them out. And when I was on the TV show Shark Tank, I stood up to producers and Sharks when they tried to get me to do things that went against what I knew was right. I truly couldn't understand why I felt compelled to keep trying to please him and to immediately feel ashamed. I'm happy to report the subconscious repetitive patterning stops here.
Let's just say if the pattern was a dorm room, I've shut the door on it, LOCKED it, and burned down the whole damn thing.