Abuse lingers long after you cut the abuser out of your life.
I have been wary of writing on Medium for the last couple of years. There was a roommate I had who knew of my medium, and, well, that person was an abuser. A gaslighter, a manipulator, a psychological destroyer…and a bit of a stalker. I created several new social media accounts and blocked all their accounts that I am aware of on every platform I could.
Unfortunately, Medium doesn’t quite work that way. Sure, you can block users just like on any other platform, but you can’t stop a specific person from seeing your stories.
I don’t want them to do away with the free articles each month. I personally appreciate that option for when I’m too broke to spare the $5. I just wish there was a way to say ‘all my articles are only for people with Medium accounts.’ At least for a little while.
But then…it’s been two years since I last saw the monster. A year and a half since I last had the displeasure of talking to them. And I’m still worried.
I saw someone that looked like them at the grocery store today and almost had a panic attack. Sure, the person at the grocery store didn’t have a beer gut and was a bit cleaner, a bit less of a mess. But people can clean up and lose weight. Those are things that can be changed. Which led my brain to spiral — What if they had moved to my neighborhood? Would they be shopping at my grocery store regularly? Could they possibly get a job at my workplace? Could the figure out where I live?
It wasn’t them, though. The monster thankfully hasn’t privatized their Facebook, so I was able to locate a picture of them from a few weeks ago. They currently have a grey-blonde hair dye job and they most assuredly have not lost weight any weight.
When I saw that picture, I let out a deep, gross sobby sigh. It scared my cats.
And I realized that I’m not as over it as I thought I was, or as I want to be.
But maybe I can stop being so paranoid about writing.
I have started so many things that I couldn’t see through for fear that they might track down my new social medias to start the harassment all over again. Sure, I can block them again. And I can ignore them, so long as they don’t physically find me.
And if they do physically find me…then what? I lock my door. I call the cops if I need to.
Once my panic subsided I realized that I don’t know what I’m afraid of anymore. It’s not like they can do more damage to me than they’ve already done, aside from being a nuisance.
I suppose I’m mostly afraid of the memories. The feelings, the misery, the depression, and how all the tricks and manipulations made me doubt myself. I’m afraid of going back to that again.
Before the roommate, I had a friend throughout my childhood and even the first part of college who was similar, though perhaps even more blatant in their abusive behaviors. That person was easier to put in the past once I got over all the wasted years. But I’d also put myself on a lofty pedestal for having gotten away from that mess. I thought ‘well, now that I know what abuse looks like, I won’t fall for that trap again. I’m too smart to fall for that trap again.’
Here’s the funny thing about abuse, though. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. It preys on your insecurities, and even the smartest people have at least a few of those. Or, if you don’t have an easily exploited insecurity, it will find something to make you feel crazy about. Gaslighting in particular is good at that. It will create insecurities if it has to. It will find something to exploit.
The worst part, for me, is how stupid and pathetic I felt when I realized I was being used and how trapped I’d let myself feel.
I say feel because it turns out all the financial fears I had were unfounded. I’ve actually saved more money living alone than I did with an abusive roommate because, as it so turns out, abusive personality types are absolute leeches that will suck you dry of everything they can. Including (and sometimes especially) your finances.
I’m starting to feel that perhaps these other fears will eventually be something I can look back and roll my eyes at, too. To be honest, I’d really like it if that were true.
It’s easy to say ‘they aren’t worth your energy.’ It’s a lot harder to move past those memories.
But hey, it’s 2020. There’s a million other things to be concerned about. 2018 personal drama should not be one. Not anymore.