Sometimes I think back on the days when I was being abused by my ex. I think about how young I was and how much I sacrificed to be with him. I left home at an early age, let him manipulate me into not going to college, and then trusted his deceitful lies as he slowly isolated me from everyone I knew and loved.
The way the abuse began was so subtle that I never caught on to it. At least not then. But now when I think back, I recall the sarcastic remarks, those little threats that he laughed off as jokes, and how he'd sometimes handle me a bit too roughly when we were "just playing" around. Yeah, sometimes he'd hurt me and I was offended at times but I let it slide. Besides, he said he was sorry. But then again, that's what he always said. If only I knew then what I know now.
Yes, an apology is good, but not because it settles the issue. Saying "I'm sorry" doesn't right the wrong. An apology is good because that's when you get to see the true heart of a person. When a person's apology is sincere, positive changes begin to take place in their behavior. They recognize that they've hurt you and they put forth every effort to prevent doing it again. But if a person keeps apologizing for the same thing and still continues with the same negative behavior...that's not an apology, that's manipulation.
I didn't see it then because I was in love and I was totally convinced that he loved me. There was no way he could possibly be doing these things on purpose. But after some time I began asking myself, could he? And lo and behold, one day I made the awful mistake of disagreeing with him in front of his parents and siblings during a Sunday visit. He became very anxious to leave and was rushing me out the door. Just as he backed out of the driveway onto the street, he slapped me so hard that I literally saw stars dancing around in my head. I swear to God it was just like the stuff you see in cartoons when one of the characters get bopped in the head.
While I was trying to regain my sense of reality, he was steadily yelling about how I better not ever disrespect him like that again. I was horrified and confused. But by the time we got home he said he was sorry and it would never happen again. Ok, I said. Besides, he convinced me it was my fault for making him angry. Now, I was feeling bad and apologizing to him because I provoked him into hurting me. WOW!!
Yeah, I didn't see it then but I definitely see it now. I see how those subtle moments were merely his way of testing me. Testing my boundaries. To see how far I'd let him go. Those times that he "accidentally" hurt me were not really accidents at all. It was all abuse and I didn't see it.
I didn't see it then, but I see now that I made the common mistake of not correcting him the very first time he offended me. By accepting what was unacceptable, it was as if I was giving him the green light to keep doing what he was doing. So he kept doing it. And each time, the beatings got worse...and worse. But also each time, he'd say I'm sorry and become the wonderful, gentle, loving man I first fell in love with. That is until he beat me again. And this cycle continued until he almost killed me.