As I was sitting in the doctor’s office, scratching the acne scars on my face, a woman sat next to me. She took out a brand new makeup kit and started redoing her makeup. A weird thought came to my mind. When was the last time I bought new makeup for myself?
I went home and emptied my makeup drawer. I threw out everything that had expired, took a picture, and sent it to a close friend. The next day I went out and bought some new makeup. I can do that now—I can spend on myself because I’m not living with him anymore.
A few years ago during my marriage, I developed a lipoma on my sciatic nerve. The pain was excruciating. The doctor prescribed me three types of painkillers. My husband picked me up from the doctor’s office and drove to the Walmart pharmacy. When he came back, he had purchased only one the medicines prescribed, the one that cost $8. The other two would have been about $85 in total, and so he decided to buy just the least expensive medicine for me. As I sat in the car next to him, I thought, ‘Is this is what I’m worth?’ Money wasn’t an issue. I was working full time, but he preferred joint accounts with passwords known only by him.
Another time I went to a store to do some clothes shopping. I had developed this habit of buying clothes and then returning them the next day out of fear that he would see them and accuse me of spending his money. This particular day, I came across a sweater that was only 97 cents. I was overjoyed. I bought it and mustered the courage to show it to him. Was he ever proud of me! And then he ordered me to buy only things that were this cheap. I just looked at him, emotionless, and managed to nod my head in agreement.
This man is long gone from my life but the damage he did to my self-worth will stay with me for a long time. I still struggle with spending on myself. The effects of the psychological damage still live with me. I question myself a lot. I am starting to put myself first now, but it takes a lot of effort for me to realize that I matter.
Abuse can take many forms, from physical to sexual and to psychological abuse. Mental abuse is the most difficult to realize, talk about and express. It plays with your being, your presence. We need to talk about emotional and mental abuse so women can realize when they are being traumatized and abused mentally. I never realized that what he did to me was financial abuse. I thought it was normal. It wasn’t.
If anyone puts you down for who are, they are not worthy of being with you. I struggle with telling people how and in what ways he abused me, and I wish there was a simpler way, but in doing so I hope to overcome my trauma.