When you love your abuser there is something very special about your relationship and your outlook on life, Miguel.
At the foundation of love, there are three elements:
You bestow such value because in the past life has been good, it is good now, and you see good ahead; your lover meets your needs, respects your rights and matches your values; they are, to you at least, a special kind of perfect.
From the outside, this description of love must read strange, untrue even.
But for you, the abused, deep within your relationship there is no strangeness in your love. Everything is normal where there is effective control by your abuser upon you; you have become dependent upon them and your shared way of life and your dependents have become dependent upon you.
Taking a step back, look at this clip from A Streetcar Named Desire.
Stanley has physically assaulted Stella the night before. Her sister Blanche confronts her, asking why she stays with a man who cannot control his anger and who abuses her. Stella remains with Stanley, she says, because she loves him for who he is and that includes his ongoing abusive nature.
This clip shows how abused lovers are drawn in and mesmerised while their life is dramatised by the rawness of emotions and the thrill of sexuality that comes with the loving situation they find themselves in. The entire play tells of the allure of this kind of love, and when taken to its extreme how it fails.
When applied, your whole loving relationship becomes modelled around extreme good times and bad, highs and lows, rough and smooth, and at times evil and good. When taken overall, during times of reflection, you conclude life has been good, is good and will be good. In a sense, you live in a reality that from the outside looks terrible and is getting worse, but to you, you know:
it’s a day in the turbulent life of how love is with my lover.
Unfortunately, for many who are abused, it takes a shock – a severe one at that – to step outside of their inner-reality and see what is really happening to them, and their loved ones.
Take a listen to Cyndi Lauper and Johnnie Lang’s How Blue Can You Get to get an idea on how a ‘dysfunctional’ relationship works in a kind of high-drama, push-me-pull-you state.
When they are together, there is hostility (he’s evil when he’s with her) that pushes them apart, and when apart more hostility in jealousy that snaps them back together again. These lovers have seven children and many years of togetherness that they celebrate perversely. They are deeply woven into the drama of their world of raw emotions and the thrill of sexuality.
They share a strange kind of love. In a way, they love their love.
It takes a strong mind to break free of controlled love within an abusive relationship, a deep dependency of years together, and for some, the fear that comes with leaving an abusive lover.
I commend those who manage to break free for their bold choice and valiant effort and believe wholeheartedly that we should all support them where we can.
I also reach out with warmth and hope to those who remain trapped, even where they don’t wholly see themselves as trapped.
I say to them:
when somebody loves you, their commitment includes a sense of emotional concern for your welfare.
If their concern for you is not reflected in their actions, then the good you seek in the long run cannot be attained. Value, commitment and attachment where you have had a good life, enjoy a good life and see a good life ahead are all one eco-system. Where one part is failing the whole will at some point fail, as Stella sadly discovers with Stanley.
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