The language of abuse pulled me into negative thinking about him, myself, our family, and all aspirations I once held dear to my heart. Over time, the words we used as a couple became harsh and either black or white – there was no in between and definitely no positivity. Every situation became a problem to solve (his way) and every dream disappeared (because I didn’t live in “reality”).
It’s only now, a year out of that relationship, that I am realizing how many words were omitted from our communications.
“That’s a great idea!” became “I don’t think that will work.”
“You are beautiful!” became “You’ve always had a pretty face.”
“Why don’t you try that – I’ll support you,” became “Nah – I don’t think you have time to do all that.”
“School isn’t for me, but I know it’s important to you,” became “All those people want to do is take our money so you can get a worthless piece of paper.”
But now that I’m in a relationship with another man, we’ll call him Max, I’m learning that there were SO MANY words that disappeared or never were a part of my marriage that I have a difficult time communicating how I feel about him. I’ve not found myself at a loss for words describing the abuse I underwent, but describing a healthy relationship leaves me tongue-tied.
I don’t seem to possess the words I need to describe happiness.
Max says, “Looking at you makes my heart smile!” and I quietly reply, “You have beautiful eyes.”
Max says, “You are on the way to finding success – I just know this new opportunity is going to be great for you!” and I reply, “I hope so.”
Max says, “You are so talented, Kellie!” and I reply, “So are you.”
WHAT?! It makes me want to cry that I can’t seem to get out of me the feelings I feel for Max. I feel inadequate and cheated of the experience it takes to let someone else know how much I appreciate them, how much I love them, how much they mean to me.
My children fare better than Max when it comes to hearing how I love them, but even there I am discovering that I fall short. “I love you” means a lot, but I’m learning from Max that it helps, A LOT, to be able to describe why I love someone.
I used to tell my ex that I loved him, but for what? The phrase loses its meaning when those are the only love-words repeated.
I love my oldest son, in part, because he speaks his mind and seeks advice but doesn’t always take it. He is strong.
I love my youngest son, in part, because his eyes show his soul even when his words won’t come. He is brilliant.
I love Max, in part, because he is helping me to bring a piece of me out of hibernation – a part of me that I didn’t realize I had lost. He is magical.
Time spent in a verbally abusive relationship robbed me not of my ability to feel love, but of my ability to express it. If I cannot express “love words” then how will I ever be able to realize true love in my life?
WORDS are powerful. They help us to define our perceptions and make them “real”. When the only words bandied about in your reality are hurtful, then every perception, every thought, is painful.