or Cognitive Processing Homework Assignment Number 1
I remember the day Joe walked into the card shop where I worked. I was twenty years old and married to a very sweet man who supported and loved me. Joe walked in and I was immediately drawn to him; I remember feeling like he was an angelic being. We spent two hours talking in the shop that day and the sexual tension between us was heavy in the air. He stayed until I closed the shop, then walked me to my car and kissed me.
An affair began between us. I completely gave myself over to him and the intimacy felt so intense and real. When I told my husband about it we quarreled and he left to stay with his parents. I don’t remember how much time went by before I moved in with Joe but it must have been only weeks. My 17 year old sister was living with us and I completely abandoned her to be with Joe. Friends warned me about him. They saw what I did not; he was controlling, manipulative and showed clear signs of being an abuser. I distanced myself from my friends and became completely isolated. I gave up everything good in my life to be with this man. And I almost died as a result.
I feel crazy just thinking about that time. I think I was crazy and that’s part of why it happened. I believed we were destined to be together. It was something Joe suggested and I clung to the notion as if it was the only truth I’d ever known. I believed he saw things in me that almost no one else could see. My head was constantly buzzing during that time. I saw things that weren’t there. I remember looking in the mirror and not recognizing the image staring back at me. It happened because I didn’t have a strong sense of self; I had no idea who I was because I was constantly morphing to meet the needs and desires of those around me.
It happened because I didn’t trust my friends; instead I trusted a crazy part of myself that wanted something exciting and unknown. My mom was hysterical about my decision to move in with this man I’d just met. She warned me but I cut her out of my life. What could she possibly know about anything? She didn’t see the abuse that was happening right under her nose when I was a child and she loved a man who was brutal and manipulative. It was somehow easier to trust this stranger than the people who’d known me the longest and who unconditionally loved me.
The trauma continued because I kept letting Joe back in after I’d left him. I still wanted him even after he’d pointed a gun at my head and assaulted me when I tried to leave him. The power he had over me felt intoxicating because it was dangerous. Part of me was aware I was treading on dangerous ground but I stayed on the path. I continued living with him after the abuse started because I was afraid he would kill me if I tried to leave.
Each time I let him back in I believed he would be different. I wanted so badly for him to be different, to love me without hurting me. If I let him in enough times, maybe he would change. Maybe my love could inspire him to be different. I remember calling him and asking him to meet me and believing, against all evidence to the contrary, that this time he would respect me. Instead, he pushed me down onto the hood of my car, raped me and then sent me home.
It happened because I let my guard down. I knew all too well that when I was attracted to a man, he would be the kind of man who would physically and emotionally hurt me. Even if he truly loved me. I was attracted to dangerous men. The reason I married my first husband is because I didn’t feel deep attraction for him and therefore he was safe. But it didn’t satisfy me.
It’s hard to think about that time. My mind was so full of ideas and beliefs that don’t make sense to me now. I believed there was a dark spirit living inside of me, something that would destroy me and anyone around me. I believed that spirit was also in the world and it roamed around Joe’s house, waiting for a good moment to slip into me, possess me and attack Joe. Joe told me he saw it and that he knew it was out to get him. I was convinced I had to catch this dark male spirit, cut its head off and drive a stake through its heart.
Why did I let him torture me, put a gun to my head, lock me in the house and accuse me of having affairs I wasn’t having? I think it had something to do with the notion of the dark spirit that haunted me. I believed that spirit had attached itself to me because of the childhood sexual abuse. Something in me attracted darkness. Bad things happened to me and I was out of control and did bad things to others. Bad things had been happening to me all my life, therefore I attracted bad things and bad people. Maybe I deserved it. Joe saw it too and he had me convinced he was trying to minimize the danger I, or the spirit, might cause.