I have wrestled with this question for a long time. While with him, I sometimes wondered, ‘what on earth am I doing here’? Since gaining my freedom, I have looked back on those 4 years 9 months and wondered, ‘what on earth was wrong with me that I stayed so long’?
I know there are the physiological/psychological factors that compounded my convoluted thinking causing me to believe that I was incapable of leaving him. I know these factors attributed to my inertia and the resultant trauma bonding that held me pinioned in his unholy embrace. But none of these factors explain why an intelligent, well-educated, articulate woman did what I did – before the trauma bonding, the Stockholm Syndrome, the depression, the pain.
Why did I stay?
I stayed because in the process of burying my truth beneath his lies, I turned off my inner voice of reason. I quit listening to myself telling me I had to leave, I had to get away. I gave into despair, helplessness and confusion and gave up on me. I wanted the rosy sunrise of his promises, the gilded cage of his castle in the air, the perfection of his promises of happily ever after.
I stayed because I didn’t want to take responsibility for what was happening in my life, my daughters’ lives and to me.
I stayed because it was easier to stay than to leave. It was easier to take the coward’s way out by staying locked into his machinations than to take the leap into the unknown by leaving him and his lies behind.
I stayed even though I knew he was lying. I knew he was deceiving me. I knew he was manipulating me. I knew all of this but I refused to look at the truth because to look at the truth meant having to look at me – and I was too frightened to do that.
I stayed because I was a victim and I didn’t want to admit it.
As I write this I think about those who will say – but you can’t blame yourself. You didn’t know who he was when you first met him. You went into that relationship with your arms wide open in love and expected to have your love reciprocated in equal measure.
And all of that is true.
None of it matters though when I look at the reasons for why I stayed.
I could walk into a hundred relationships with my arms wide open and still find them empty – because my arms wide-open were filled with my own empty promises that I would treat myself with love and respect, truth and honesty. My lack of clarity in my beliefs, my values, my principles trapped me in his lies because I didn’t know what I stood for.
I stayed, not because of him, but because of me. My weaknesses brought me to my knees. My weaknesses kept me locked inside the web he wove around me.
On the other side of the relationship, revelling in my freedom today, I am willing and able to stand in the naked light and love myself as I state, unequivocally, I stayed because of me.
He abused me. He lied. He deceived. He used terrifying stories to hold me silent. He manipulated my mind and smothered me with his untruths.
But I am the one who chose to believe him. To let go of reason and accept his unreasonable words and actions. Accept his unacceptable behaviour and compromise on myself – not because of who he was, but because of who I was and who I refused to be – independent, strong, uncompromising in my belief in me and what I deserved from love and life.
In my world, post sociopath, I am 100% accountable for me. Post sociopath I cannot hold him accountable for what happens to me today –Just as he is accountable for what he did, I am accountable for what I did, and what I do today.
I stayed because I did not have the courage and strength of character to stand up for me without fear.
I stayed because I believed he could make up for the past. He could make my life all better.
Today, I let him go in peace. Holding onto resentment, bitterness, anger keeps me from living the beautiful life I deserve. Today, I stay away from holding him accountable for what happened to me because I have the courage to take charge of my life today, to be 100% accountable for me today and to make choices that love and support me today.
In stepping fearlessly into my life today, I leave him behind because I know that the past is gone, today is alive and tomorrow is just a dream away. A dream that will come true as long as I walk my path with dignity, grace and ease, 100% accountable for me.