So, in a post last week, I talked about whether or not love is blind and I said that actually it’s not since we all have our preferences along with what we NEED to see. But like I do, I’ve been going over that in my mind and started thinking about how love truly is blind in certain circumstances…places where none of us want to go, where we say we would never go, and swear we would leave as soon as the issue is clear. My son and I were talking about it yesterday, and he said this: “Love isn’t necessarily blind in the beginning, but it can become blind after the love has taken hold.” Let’s take a look-see.
For you sweet newbies, my ma was married to R (I won’t say what I usually do when I hear his name in my head but I have to say something so I guess asshole will suffice), for 28 years and although my sis and I knew about it and tried very hard to get her to leave him, she didn’t for all of those years. In fact, she wouldn’t admit to the abuse until close to the time she was able to get away. I saw black eyes more times than I can count, black and blue arms, marks by her neck, a beating so bad that she was rushed to the ER and was throwing up blood, and an eye injury so serious I took her to the doctor to make sure she wasn’t going to lose her vision in it.
Now, for the big question: why the hell did she stay? The first reason after the initial act (just a ‘little’ slap) was, she told me, almost unbelievable to her. She grew up with parents who were never violent in any way and my dad treated her very well; she didn’t have any experience with domestic violence so it was out of her realm of comprehension that it could happen to her. Using my favorite phrase, she was simply gobsmacked and since it was ‘small’, and he profusely apologized, she assumed it was a one-off and wouldn’t happen again. The second reason? Because she loved him. Because she had fallen in love with who she believed to be a good man, and this one incident didn’t change that. The next dozen didn’t change it. The love was still there and she said she could compartmentalize the bad and only focus on the good.
Years later, after the abuse intensified , she continued to stay for a myriad of reasons: he broke her down so far she had absolutely no self-esteem or feelings of worth; he manipulated her thinking to believe she was the cause of the violence; he psychologically abused her to presume she was unlovable and no one else would ever want her, and the list goes on. In other words, he used the proverbial ‘Game Book’ entitled: “How to Beat Your Wife and Get Away with it for Decades.” (Probably the only fucking book he ever read 🤬).
So, she stayed for love in the beginning, and he used that initial showering of love to get away with just enough until she was essentially his prisoner. I remember my grandma, T, and I sitting down with ma before she even married him and telling her how much we disliked him and were suspicious he was hurting her. She looked us straight in the eye… said she loved him…he loved her…and everything was fine.
Hmmmmm. Love is blind.
After living with R for 5 excruciating years and then having to see him for 23 more, I swore to myself I would NEVER ever ever ever be in a situation like my poor ma found herself in. Never. And seeing that written, and remembering how smug I was every time I said it, makes me realize how terribly naive we are when it comes to our hearts. Those fragile, irrational hearts that can cloud our eyes and dull our senses because all that matters in the end is the love. Right?
I’m going to be honest with you (because I always try to be), as much as I loved Hubby 3 (shutty the mouthy) and still do…we talk almost daily and are very close…our first 2 years of marriage were horrible. Like I’ve said before, Hubby came from an extremely physically, verbally abusive home which was coupled with neglect so awful he basically had to raise himself from about the age of 10. His adult relationships were very volatile with tons of drama, yelling, throwing things, alcohol fueled incidents, etc. Then he married me, and guess what? He started re-creating the only dynamic he knew. So, I got yelled at, accused and berated for the most absurd things which forced drama into our lives, had things thrown at me, had my bathroom door ripped off the hinges because he was upset I had slammed it, had a chair thrown across my kitchen, had my arms grabbed.
And I stayed. Yep…I surely did. Why you ask? Because I loved him. I really really loved him. I was terrified when he was angry and would cry when he’d scream at me (and once, peed myself 😟), but I loved him. And guess what? Love is blind. But finally, after those first 2 years, I told him this: “If you ever do anything to me again, you will be out of here and probably in jail. Period. You need to grow the fuck up, learn some self-control, and realize I’m the best fucking (sorry for the cussing, ma 😳) thing that’s ever crossed your path.” And he began too.
Hubby put so much effort into his behavior and words…he truly did. He made changes that most people wouldn’t think are possible and our last 8 years together were actually very happy and fun. Yes, we’d butt heads at time, but I’ll tell you what: he changed into a kind, sweet, loving guy who would run bubble baths for me when I was having a bad day, wrote notes for me every single morning of our lives together to start my day off with a smile, took me to Chicago each year after Christmas for a fancy schmancy time to celebrate the year, and told me he loved and appreciated me more times than I could ever try to count.
Just last week were were yacking on the phone and I told him I was feeling down and here’s what he said: “Kristi, you are a beautiful woman who is the sweetest person I’ve ever known. You made me a better man and no one has ever given me the chances you did. I will always love you for doing that.” But you know what? I should have left him the first time he was abusive to me. The very first time. But I didn’t because of that love I had for him. Yes, after 2 years it was ‘worth’ it but the road to get there was NOT guaranteed at all (so please please please don’t think I’m advocating staying with an abusive partner…not at all!) and it could have ended horribly. I gambled and that time, I ‘won.’ A million to one shot (I think I’m going to buy a lottery ticket today…you never know 😳).
Not so with J who was physically abusive twice, psychologically abusive for most of our 3 years together, verbally abusive countless times, would go into rages (which I now understand to be part of his Borderline PD), and finally was cheating on me in very public ways numerous times (in other words, he never tried to hide it once it started happening) and blaming me for it. And once again, I stayed. I had gambled once, and won! Who’s to say I wasn’t on a streak?
Like a broken record, I stayed at first because of the love I had for him. I loved him with a passion and yearning I’ve never had before and doubt I’ll ever have again. I can honestly say I felt he was my soulmate. My forever. I could see all of the good in him (because like Hubby, there is a lot of good) through the bad. I kept thinking that all he needs is patience. Understanding. Security. Why? Because he too grew up in a very abusive home and also had PTSD from his 3 tours overseas. Of course I needed to stay…for fuck sakes, he needed me! And I also needed him.
So, I took him back again and again after he’d leave and cheat. After he’d swear to me about things right before catching him in a lie. After he put his hands on me. After he said horrible things to me. I stayed because I loved him. Because I was blind to what was outside of that love. It’s almost like our heart creates a space that doesn’t allow anything ‘bad’ to get in to threaten those feelings. I had to work my way out of that tunnel I found myself in where I couldn’t see anything but what I wanted to see. Maybe that’s why people say hindsight is 20/20. And it really is.
Look, we see what we want to see. We believe what we want to believe. We love who we love no matter how irrational it might be. We are blinded while in love (or at least I’m convinced we are) and that accounts for a lot of things we accept in our relationships.
And I’m going to tell you one more truth today: Even though I have ‘learned my lesson’ about this phenomenon, I also understand it could happen again. Because each time we open our hearts to love, we are taking the risk of being overpowered by it. So, what I’m hoping to remember is this: to keep my eyes as wide open as I can in the beginning. Look for red flags. Trust that intuition. Let the mind rule the heart while it still has a chance. Actually, I think that’s something we all need to do.