Why I’m Not Leaving My Abusive Relationship
I have an abusive man. He abuses me on various levels. But I’m not leaving him. Before you’re quick to judge, you ought to hear our story. Thereafter, you can be swift and merciless with your feedback. Given how often I’ve blogged about being single and my quest to find love, it may come as a surprise to many who know me to learn that I’m in a relationship. As one can understand, it’s challenging to speak about my dysfunctional union. Unlike most abusive relationships, however, I don’t take my man back primarily for the good he does to pacify me after a battering, rather, I stay with him because every time he gives me a beat down, I learn a lesson; I’m the better for it. He keeps me on my toes, he’s the epitome of tough love and despite the tears he occasionally causes me, I couldn’t see my life without him. At present, I know he’s the one for me and I pray to God daily that things will work out between us.
My man is CJ. I first met him in the mid to late ‘90s, while still living in my native Barbados. And not to sound cliché, it was love at first sight, at least for me. Physically, he was unlike any other I’d ever seen. I watched him in awe from top to bottom, like a magnet, he drew me in. He was full of life, bright, bold, smart, sexy, educated, worldly, well put together, accommodating, simply mesmerizing. Our connection was beautiful and organic. With him, I felt like I was at home. AIas, I was already committed to another and wished to remain loyal, so as difficult as it was to tear myself away from this new and exciting man, I had to part ways with him. Little did I know then, that we’d meet again in the not-too-distant future.
Almost a decade after our first meeting, I reconnected with CJ. By then, I’d emigrated from Barbados to the US. Our reunion came at a time that I was available to really start getting to know CJ and to build a relationship with him sans the guilt that I was neglecting another. At first, like many love affairs, everything seemed ripe for a promising future together. I looked forward to awaking to each new day with him, discovering, exploring, getting lost, laughing, learning, going to bed with thoughts of him. Be it going for a run in a park, a stop at a corner bodega, a subway ride, or dining at any of the myriad of restaurants in the city, I never wanted to be away from him. Whether it was through the frigid winter cold, rainy spring days, the falling leaves of autumn or under sunny summer skies, he kept me inspired, ever smiling, my heart fluttering.
Just as the seasons changed, so did our relationship and so did CJ. Or maybe, he was finally showing his true colors. He was most abusive when it came to money issues. I’d left Barbados with every last dime I had. It was a lot back then, or so it seemed. CJ knew my financial worth and ever selfless as I am, I’d let him know that I was willing to share my blessings with him as needed. Over time, he started to drain my bank account. Money I had for tuition, rent, metro fare, groceries, my health and any emergencies, slowly but surely CJ started to milk me dry. If I ever I complained, he got emotionally abusive. He’d make me feel like I was lazy, lacking ambition and that I was the one incapable of proper budgeting. It was because of him that I had to work three jobs while in undergrad full-time doing a double major. But as soon as I got a paycheck, CJ was ready to dip into it, never willing to let me save. Despite his greed, I pressed on. I kept my grades up, won several academic scholarships, graduated with high honors and somehow met all my financial obligations. Sometimes, I even splurged on a trip, particularly home to Barbados bearing gifts for loved ones there.
Every trip to Barbados is always bittersweet. Having no family in the US, I always cry on saying goodbye to my relatives and close friends back home. And as challenging as CJ has made my life, I always think about the good times we’ve shared and I get hopeful that on my return, our life together will finally be perfect. Sure, on the days when I’m homesick and missing my mom, sister, nephew, best friends and the sea and sun of the Caribbean, CJ has been of little help in filling that void. There were many days I doubted myself, where I felt like nothing was happening for me despite my every effort; the struggle of being unemployed in a foreign country for 13 months and the consequences of that. I questioned my calling, second-guessed my journey and often just wanted to rid my life of CJ as I felt he was more a hindrance than help. But honestly, he has played a pivotal role in some of my biggest accomplishments in life. Amidst all the headaches and heartaches, he has consistently encouraged me to follow my dreams, to keep pushing and that whatever it takes he will help me bring my dreams to fruition.
When I fulfilled a dream of attending Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to earn my masters, I knew in part that was because of CJ. My J School experience remains one of the most incredible of my life. There, I met and became friends with some of the most amazing journalists in the world, hailing from almost 50 different countries. Because of J School, I was afforded the opportunity to travel with about 20 fellow journalists to report from the Middle East for two weeks. CJ also takes credit for helping me land job opportunities at some of the top media organizations in the US. From CBS, to The Root at The Washington Post to WNYC Radio – an NPR affiliate, to the Guardian US to Black Enterprise where I currently work, were it not for CJ’s resources, none of these would have materialized.
My dearest friendships formed since leaving Barbados are also because of CJ, through the people and places I’ve been introduced to via him. The consummate social butterfly, he’s connected to people from all walks of life, every race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, diverse cultures, one can name it and he’s ever eager to bring folks together. Yes, we’ve had some rough days and CJ can sometimes seem to be a case of Jekyll & Hyde, but I’ve found that his positive attributes outweigh his bad. On meeting him on a trip to visit me, my mom was totally enamored by CJ. He was nothing but kind to her and especially doted on me in her presence. She returned to Barbados, confident that in him, I’d found a haven. My mother couldn’t have been more accurate. Because as much as I try to fight it, as much as CJ tries to make a punching bag of me, I’m a tougher, more confident, stronger, smarter, well-rounded, skilled, knowledgeable woman because of him. Most importantly, I’m happy and at peace and totally in love with CJ – aka “Concrete Jungle,” The Big Apple – New York City.
“NY 101: It’ll rob you and cheat you. It’ll take your friends and turn them on you. It’ll kick your ass and break your heart. But then it’ll pick you up again, make you feel so totally alive and untouchable. It’s the center of the world, it’s the best place in the world, and once it’s in your heart, it’ll never leave you.” – Unknown
~ I Keep it Irie ~