“I don’t lie like you do.”
Those were the last words my ex will ever speak to me. He said it almost five months after our abusive relationship had ended. I had found a check that had been mailed to him from the state because he had finally caught up on his back-child support for a child with another woman, so I was meeting up with him to make sure that he got his money, so couldn’t also label me a thief. After I had given him his check, I couldn’t help myself but ask him a question.
And forgive me, but I feel this needs a bit of a backstory. This man has always prided himself in being what he calls “an open book,” saying that he lives his life in complete transparency as an example to the world. And yet, when I acted out because I was exhausted by his jealousy, his rage, his manipulation, the physical and mental abuse, and I craved any kind of validation from SOMEWHERE (because any validation from him came with strings), I have been the one marked as a harlot, a liar, and a homewrecker.
That night, I asked him a very pointed question.
“When you think of yourself as an open book, does that mean you share every single facet of who you are, good, bad, and indifferent?”
“Yes, that is what being an open book means.”
“Then can I just ask one favor from you, though I doubt you’ll even give it a second thought.”
He nodded, leaned slightly forward as he glared at me.
“When you tell people about how we ended, will you do me the decency of at least remembering your part in that story?”
“I don’t have to, Evelyn. I don’t lie like you do.”
Fear can be a potent drug. I know this from personal experience. Fear played a HUGE part in my relationship with that man, from the first time he accused me of thinking of cheating with a guy that came up to me at the bar and struck up a conversation while I waited for food to the last time he told me I was worthless as a mother because I wouldn’t spank my daughter hard enough.
Fear of his wrath, his retribution if I stepped one toe out of line and chose to make eye contact with a stranger on the sidewalk. Fear of his disgust and accusations of infidelity if I dressed in nice clothes and wore makeup to work. Fear of being pushed down and being trapped in my bedroom because I had a different opinion than he did and he was determined to break me of my own opinion.
Fear changed who I was. Because of the fear I dealt with, I did become a liar. I lied to him about my work schedule. I lied to him about how much money was in my bank account. I lied to him about when I last spoke to any men that I knew. I didn’t tell him about men that would flirt with me when he wasn’t around (which was a lie by omission). I didn’t tell him about the compliments I received from ANYONE I knew (because heaven forbid anyone else speak any kind of positivity into my life!). Did fear make me a liar? Yes, it did. There were a lot of things I did while I was with him that I am not proud of.
I stayed with a man that laid hands on me, in front of both my daughter and his daughter. I stayed with a man that would yell at me after my family left because he didn’t like them staying longer than 45 minutes. I became a woman that would placate him and lost her spine in an attempt to keep the peace. I became a woman that thrived on the attention of other people, instead of going to my mate for fulfillment, because I couldn’t trust him to be supportive or encouraging without expecting me to bend to his every whim. I became a woman that allowed a man to take advantage of her body, who wouldn’t listen to NO because HIS NEEDS had to be fulfilled. I became a woman that was nothing more than a shell, there to be an accessory to his life.
And he still continues to paint me as the harlot and liar.
Now, after those final words left his mouth, I couldn’t think of anything in retort. And to be honest, I didn’t want to say anything more to him. Because the woman that he knew, the liar that he helped create in that environment rife with fear and manipulation and control, is a woman I never was. And as I turned away from him and walked away forever, there was a little bit of comfort in the calm that the woman he is telling people about is a woman that I do not know. Everything that he brought out in me was someone that at my core I will never be.
But the fear that I lived through for a year and a half brought out incredible strength in me that I never knew I had. And situations that would have terrified me and made me run for an escape route in the year’s past are situations that I can now look at, without fear, and be completely transparent with anyone that chooses to listen. From that foundation of fear, I have found strength, transparency, and a desire for life that is solid enough to build my future on.