Editor’s note: The following letter was written by the Lovefraud reader who posts as “Panther.”
This little bundle of words comes from a new survivor. I write this hoping that I can find these thoughts to be consolation for myself, as well as to share them with others for the same reason. Through reading various Lovefraud articles, I’ve realized that the veterans have so much invaluable advice to offer. However, at times I wonder how the voice of a survivor sounded right after the break. The reason this matters to me is because the veterans seem so much stronger than I feel right now. I cannot help but wonder, as I read through their wise words, if they have something I don’t have, which enabled them to get over this. Then I doubt myself, as the sound of my own trembling voice seems meek in comparison. I reason that I don’t have what it takes, like they do.
But this isn’t true, and I want to be a little voice here on Lovefraud that says:
“I’m still shaking in the aftermath. The voice of my oppressor is still ringing in my ears. My legs feel too weak to stand, and I don’t feel strong enough to overcome this … you’re not the only one.”
It’s been less than one month since I went No Contact. That isn’t to say that I haven’t felt an icy presence reaching for me across this void I’ve put between myself and that monster. Emotionally, I’m always slapping away an invisible hand that seems to be grasping for my heart—and sanity. I don’t know whom to trust, and I cannot see clearly. The whole world looks a bit like it’s covered in a giant rain cloud, and I feel as though I’m trying to navigate my way down a crowded highway as this huge cloud hangs so low in the sky that I cannot see even a few inches in front of my car.
Looking Back at the Disaster
The last thing I’d ever want to do is look back.
Yet, today, I actually did just that, and I was surprised at what I found. It was hard at first to peer far enough into this disaster to see more than a house torn to bits by a hurricane. At first, that’s all I saw. I saw my dreams shattered and thrown all over the ground like the china cabinet he punched one night. I saw my keepsakes covered in dirt and strewn around, like my body was every time he put his violent hands on me. All my savings were blown away with the strong winds, and they weren’t even in this mess for me to go collect with time. My cat, who had been a best friend throughout the torture, lay dead under the rumble now. There was nothing that this hurricane hadn’t destroyed of what I once called my life.
This is what I saw at first, which made me want to look ahead, never back. Also, everywhere I read, survivors are told to focus on the future, keep their eyes on new horizons. How was I to grapple with pummeling down this road in a beat up old car, directly into a dark and blinding cloud, while feeling like a bombed out, empty shell where once a human used to be?
Aha. Where once a human used to be. And who was she?
Again, I looked back. This time, past the rubble. Past the destruction. Surely, if there was a pile of destruction, then there must have been something to begin with. Right? You don’t end up with a toppled over house unless you have a house in the first place!
So then I saw beyond the broken pieces. I saw the whole house. I saw what I had built. Yes, me, just little ole me who is sitting here feeling so weak and unable to accomplish great things. I had accomplished many things, and this mess scattered behind me was a testament to what I had done with my life and who I had been before the hurricane. Yes, I had dreams. I pursued those dreams, and many of them, I accomplished. This means that I must have been an ambitious person, with healthy goals. I was someone who spent her time here on Earth trying to live a positive, productive life. Also, yes, I had savings. I had taken care of myself, stood on my own two feet, well enough to think of a rainy day. This means I was a responsible woman, someone I could count on. Yes, I had keepsakes. I didn’t accumulate random clutter. What I bothered to hold onto in life had meaning, which means that I was perhaps a sentimental woman, someone who placed more value in love and friendship than in material possessions. And, yes, I had a cat. I had made a commitment to care for another living creature, and I had followed through with that commitment every day. He was a happy cat that trusted people. That means he grew up with someone who taught him that he could trust, which means I was a trustworthy, dependable person at some point
For the first time, looking back was actually useful. There I saw a woman who was ambitious, productive, and positive. She was someone she could count on. She was trustworthy and dependable. She was capable of making commitments and keeping them. I also remember how much she trusted other people and in the good of humanity. It was only a matter of time, I suppose, until someone who didn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt came along and exploited a character trait that I should not be ashamed of. Yes, I’m wiser now, but having a generous, loving, trusting, and forgiving heart is nothing to feel stupid about.
Seeing Past the Mess
I’d like to ask new survivors to try this themselves. Try looking past the absolute destruction in your history. Try to see the destruction as an actual testament to what you were, because if there hadn’t been something to destroy, this wouldn’t have happened in the first place. Sociopaths look for someone who has something they can take away or ruin, whether it be money, love, intimacy/sex, trust, or emotional support. By the very fact that we were targeted means that we were carrying something of value to begin with, and I’m guessing that most of us, if not all of us, can take credit for the great people we were before we were targeted.
Look to your past to remember what an amazing person you were, even though it might hurt to know that this person was destroyed. But look anyways to remind yourself that you are strong, even in these moments when every step feels like a monumental achievement. We will never get back whom we used to be, not 100%. However, it might be a mistake to assume that we are not still fantastic, even if we don’t feel it right now. And, with the added wisdom of our experience, I bet we’ll build an even better house now, one that a hurricane cannot knock over.