Who Are You? – A Story of Duality and Unsung Heroes

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This post was originally written for SwanWaters.

Have you ever asked yourself: who am I? Looked at yourself in the mirror. Saw a vaguely familiar face. Yet it did not feel like you. Not at all…

The Duality of Abuse

Alas most of you can relate to the duality of living with abuse. For the outside world, you are the same professional, ever cheerful, go-getting lady. Showing up for work, doing the best you can – even more so than ever.

Covering up the scars – visible or not. Never showing your fears or anxiety.

Your job becomes a safe-haven. Apart from the daily checkup phone calls and text messages from your partner, demanding to know what you are doing with whom and why, you can lean back in a bubble. In the illusion that all is well.

Nobody can see that you are dreading to go home – even though you have to leave exactly on time in order not to upset your partner.

Who would ever know that you, yes you, would make the journey home each day with weak knees. Knowing that once you would step through your front door, you would have to let go of the very essence of you.

That you would be expected to play a part in a play that is all but playful. Where your identity, your passions, your core being are challenged. Day in day out.

You feel so ashamed – who can you turn to? Who would believe you? That charming guy, treating you so badly? Really?

Even worse: if they would believe you, could you act on their advice: “Leave now. Don’t stand for this.”

If only there was someone who would just listen. Be there. Listen to you – even between the lines. Without judgement.

My Guardian Angel

Archangel Michael is renowned for helping people who are facing urgent needs during a crisis. During the years I was living in an unhealthy relationship, my needs were met by an angel in human form.

Each working day, I would meet up for coffee with my dear colleague and friend Michiel (Dutch for Michael). Without ever uttering a word about the abuse he could sense what I was facing, and he provided daily comfort.

He acknowledged me as a professional, and as a person. Made me laugh. Allowed me to cry. I am quite sure he smoothed things over with management, who must have been wondering what was going on. I never asked, and sadly I cannot anymore.

Last year he passed away – way too young from a mere human perspective. Happily, that he has seen me in the post-relationship years. It was not all smooth sailing – but I stood my ground and created my own safe haven.

Now I live in balance with my son (who is not the child of my abuser), while the heavens have gained another angel – one whose presence I feel every day. An unsung hero – may this be my song to him.

Friends Are Our Saviors

As much as your relationship allows, stay open for contact with friends. Even if you are not ready to speak up, let them comfort you. In any way they can.

They may not understand the dynamics of the relationship you are in, but they love you for the YOU that they know, love, respect.

The knowledge that ultimately you are not alone, will help you to build the strength to break free. If not today, than sometime for sure.

Underneath all the hurt, anxiety and pain, the real YOU is still there. And she will shine again – breaking the glass of that mirror.