By Rashad Malik Davis
In hindsight, my last relationship was a little bit like “The Little Mermaid”. I love that movie, but I didn’t want it to be my reality. I made a pact of silence and traded my voice and power for the love of a man, losing my fins and freedom as I struggled for breath to reach the light.
I’m sharing this testimony to make my story known. Shame stopped me from speaking up in a major way, but I need to make this pain known to heal myself and hopefully others. I fell in love with a sociopath who we will simply call “J”. It’s only now that I’ve found the courage to speak up about my situation after months and countless sleepless nights of anxiety and shame. I’ve reached a point where I’ve healed considerably and have grown immensely spiritually. This situation propelled me back into my relationship with God and the spiritual realms that I’ve always felt most comfortable communicating and communing with. Hopefully this love of self and connection to spirit I’ve found reaches someone out there too. If this helps just one person who needs the nudge to escape or the words of encouragement to heal, I’ll have done my job.
“Just don’t tell your friends. When you have an issue or feel a certain way about something, talk to me. I don’t want them looking at me like I’M the bad guy.” He chuckled smugly. He’d just chided me on the fact that after abandoning me and deleting my pictures off of Facebook without warning and not calling for a whole day, I’d told my friends about it in tears. I smiled stupidly on the other end of the phone at his wisdom and promised to keep that pact. It didn’t make sense, but my deepest desire was to love and be loved by this man. After 8 months of seemingly being the center of his world, he cut me off entirely from the source of a great deal of my joy. I felt like I was fighting for breath at the thought of him leaving. Surely this person knew better than me how to protect my own feelings and our relationship, I thought. Surely his words were kind and loving; not manipulative and controlling. He continued, “I’m really messed up. There are just things that I will never tell you about me. I don’t know what I’m going through. You can either stay or you can go.” Because I’m in the business of healing and seeking to spread love, I told him I’d stay so we could work it out.
“When somebody shows or tells you who they are the first time, believe them.”
The month prior to this breakup conversation, he’d become cold and distant. Noticing the gap, I clawed back to him trying to fix that which was never my fault. Inevitably it ended, but not after nights of confusion, crying and complete mental breakdown. I had no idea at the time that what I was going through was mental and emotional abuse. I had no idea that who I loved with every fiber of my being was a legitimate and clinically identifiable sociopath/narcissist/psychopath. It wasn’t until months after we’d broken up that I called the situation what it was. This was not normal, it was an aberration. This was terrorism on my my mind, body and spirit. Only now I have realized that keeping this pact of silence had kept me a prisoner, and I refuse to be held down any longer. I’m taking back the keys and owning my this temple called my body.
For those of you who have never loved a sociopath/narcissist/psychopath–if you think it’s a mouthful, imagine how my spirit wept–it may be very difficult to understand the depths of mental abuse and manipulation that their victims endure. Even after you’re told, you might try and dismiss it being that you have a conscious. After reading this, you’ll probably sit there and say incredulously “Nobody can be this cold, right?” Right.
Everything started out normally, and initially I couldn’t detect any major red flags. We met for the first time at a Dave & Busters after meeting on Plenty-of-Fish. I styled my mini-fro, threw on my fanciest skinny jeans and gray sweater then raced off because I’m stereotypical and was late. In the buzz and hype of the arcade I found him. He was impeccably dressed in a blue jean jacket and torn skinny jeans. His hair was slicked and styled to perfection, and he turned to face me with the most beautiful doe eyes I’d ever seen. He was alluring. But not in a way that was typical to anything I’d ever experienced. Upon walking to him, I sensed something was wrong.
There’s something wrong. Something is TERRIBLY wrong. I would never talk to him if I met him on the street. Just turn around and say you got a bout of diarrhea and never call him again!
I chalked my mind’s clamoring up to nerves, and I shoved my intuition back down to the bowels of my spirit. I strode forward with a huge smile and a hug. His reaction to me was not cold but calculating. He peered at me with these big, dark, perceptive eyes. They were curtained elegantly with long and charcoal black lashes, but I felt like his beauty was a cover. I felt like I was being scanned by the Predator for any weaknesses and the tiniest fault in my visage. I’d imagine the feeling would be akin to how a deer feels when it confronts a wolf. You know the mothafucka’ is going to get you at some point, but the question was when was it going to happen? The whole time I was a little uneasy, but I figured “Who isn’t on their first date?” Our first date went without a major hitch, and our subsequent dates went smoothly. As he learned more about me, everything seemed to settle in. Initially, everything was beautiful and healing.
Everything moved at light-speed, and I found myself caught up in him more as each day passed by. He “love-bombed” me. He made sure to contact me every moment of the day, ensuring that I was on his mind. He’d contact me consistently via text, stroking my ego with “Hey beautiful/gorgeous/cutie/sexy/handsome”, supplemented with at least three calls a day. I don’t need or even want that much attention, but he was appealing to my vulnerabilities and opening me up to become dependent on him for his affections. I was being seduced.
As time passed, however, there were disturbing cracks in his porcelain veneer.
- He liked to publicly humiliate me. He’d make jokes to my friends about how I wasn’t good at something or didn’t reach his standard. He was obsessed with appearance and how I made him appear in public. He’d laugh in my face when I didn’t do something correctly, and because I hadn’t had much experience with long term relationships, I thought this was just normal joking. I was being “too sensitive”.
- He NEVER yawned. That sounds strange, but as an Anthropology major I seek to understand how people relate. Yawning as a reflex is a sign of empathy. I would yawn constantly in front of him, and he’d never respond. I called him out on it one day, and he’d say “I guess I’m just not easily influenced.” I never saw him express emotions besides rage, jealousy, irritation, mock sadness and humor at my or someone else’s expense.
- I got the sense that he had a ton of secrets. His eyes were deep and dark, but not in a peaceful way. His nails were bitten down to the flesh. He was anxious about something clearly, but I didn’t know what. He’d look at me often and say sweet things, but the intensity of his eyes would betray any genuine affection he might’ve felt for me. On more than one occasion, unprovoked he would say “I never want to hurt you, ever.” My immediate thought was Nigga, we’re just watching Scooby Doo! Why are you doing the most? But what would come from my lips was “Aww, thanks babe.”
- He had a best friend that I never met during the course of our relationship. He’d claim that “Carlos is just shy. He said he’s just not ready to meet you yet.” That struck me as odd, but I trusted him so blindly. Carlos would also apparently catfish people on Grindr. He’d set them up on dates with strangers or send them an address that belonged to someone else and watch his victim go in. Upon hearing that story, I gave him major side eye and questioned why he would be friends with someone like this. He chuckled and said “I know, but at least he’s good to me.” All of his friends seemed to cheat on their spouses or partners, and he didn’t seem phased. I should’ve left him then and there, but I ignored my instincts and just chalked this up to him not being a judgmental person.
- He’d be sweet and then all of a sudden, he’d be someone totally different. He would consistently tell me about all of the men who were after him), driving my desire to make myself impossibly perfect to keep him. This had the added bonus of destroying my sense of self-worth, breaking me down while making me totally dependent on his will. On several occasions, he’d call me pretending to be someone else on a restricted line. Not thinking my boyfriend would haunt me like that, I assumed it was someone else until he would laugh in my face at how he got me. I’d laugh along with him. Another night, we traveled into New York to go to a drag show for the evening, and we couldn’t’ figure out the directions. I asked a passerby who told me the way, and he laughed at my ignorance. He said “I just wanted to see if you’d do it.” On another occasion, after one night of not being at my best, he told me “Well, if you were good at it you’d get it right.” I expressed how that made me feel, and his retort was “I don’t feel like it’s that serious, so neither should you.” Any attempts on my part to validate my feelings were met with “You’re crazy.” I’m a combative Aries when pushed up against a wall, but I was starting to feel like perhaps I was.
“When you have your rose colored glasses on, red flags just look like flags.”
The day before we broke up, he told me how he suspected his neighbor was a prostitute. To test this theory, he stuck a sticky note to the wheel of her car to see if it ever moved. His voice squealed in delight at the thought of tricking this woman. I shivered. The relationship ended the next day, him dumping me and citing that he’d never met someone like me. He sold me on the idea that being with someone for the rest of his life scared him, and I deserved better. The situation left me completely drained; emotionally, spiritually and mentally. To add insult to injury, I discovered “J” was cheating (or at least planning on doing so) on me with my friend when I found a text detailing his desire to offer my friend sexual favors. I quickly blocked my “friend” and haven’t looked back. Other men popped out of the woodworks with how he’d cheated on me with them too. I was humiliated. “J” quickly replaced me only a week or two after our breakup with another relationship, gladly flaunting the images in my face to dig the wound deeper. After blocking all of them from my life, he found a way back in by stalking me online as different individuals. Trying to rejoin the world of dating, several individuals reached out to me with empty profiles but full of conversation asking about my past. The M.O. was the same in each case. These anonymous folk would flatter me and inevitably ask me “What are you doing online handsome?” It was him. I deleted one app to hop onto another just to meet other people, and again he followed me there. On one date after logging back in to confirm the location of my dinner plans, an individual messaged me again without a photo. Again he used his usual shtick. Initially, he was 2 miles out from me. I ignored the message. I checked again, and his location changed to only less than 2,000 feet away. He was trying to control me. He’d even ask me at one point “I’m so sorry about your last relationship. Karma is going to get him. If you don’t mind me being nosy though… was the relationship abusive?” The sickness is real.
“Those of us with the most love and light attract the people in the darkest places sometimes, because they don’t know how to obtain it for themselves.”
I’ve removed myself from the pact. I am finally now in a place of wellness, with this experience forced me into my power. I’ve since been accepted to my dream grad school to pursue my passions for animation. I’ve illustrated published children’s books and book covers. I’ve learned what love truly is after encountering what it was not. Love is not unkind. Love does not seek to disparage and manipulate. Love does not seek to control. Love has no ego. It just is. It’s transformative and beautiful. It’s a spiritual experience, and if you ever feel it’s otherwise, TRUST yourself and go.
I’m writing this for everyone who has been on the receiving end of an abusive partner and needs to heal. I write this for you who are in it, afraid of possibly leaving. I was lucky in that it never escalated into the physical or fatal. Some people didn’t have the luxury, and for those of you in that situation please seek help. I write this to expose the darkness I lived in and the attempted murder of my spirit. But mostly, I write this out of love and to tell you that you are ENOUGH. You are MORE than enough. Everything that you will ever need and want, realize that you already ARE. You are divine. I sought completion externally, because I didn’t know that all I ever needed was within me. It took an abusive partner to realize my divinity, but now that I’ve grown I cannot go back. I’m comfortable and happy being single. I no longer crave that person to fill the void. I no longer writhe in displeasure when I’m alone. It’s beautiful and necessary. I respect the silence and avoid the clutter. I’m surrounded by people who love me, but most importantly I’ve been steadily on the path of self-love I’ve denied myself so long. I am grateful.
I choose today and right now to forgive. For those of you who have been abused, please give yourself permission to grieve. Sit with your tears and your vulnerabilities. Love them. Don’t allow insensitive dicks to tell you how quickly you should move on or to invalidate your feelings. Move forward, but if you are sad allow yourself to feel it. I’m excited for what the future holds, but I am content and loving myself in this moment. I CHOOSE to love myself here, now, and forever more.