In past blog entries I’ve alluded to and mentioned an abusive relationship I was in during my late teen years. Today I’m going to share the entire story of that relationship because it has reached its conclusion; that thread in my tapestry is complete. About six weeks ago I got word from a friend that my abusive boyfriend committed suicide during a police stand-off in Portland, Oregon. He was just 3 months shy of his 40th birthday. I share this story because it involved quite a spiritual journey for me. I am hoping that by sharing this story I can help others who are currently in an abusive relationship, and also help those who have been abused to learn how to forgive themselves and their abusers. I warn you this tale is long, but it is complete. For what it’s worth, here is my tale…
I met Bryan in junior high school around the age of 14. When I met him he was already in a dark place, but I didn’t know it. I knew his parents were divorced, but that’s all I knew. I was attracted to his intellect, his love of all things sci-fi and fantasy, and he was really cute to boot. My girlfriends and I hung out with him and his male friends, sort of a group thing. Nothing much happened. At graduation from junior high we went our separate ways. He went to a different high school than I did and I figured I’d seen the last of him.
When I was 15 I had a psychic reading with Char. She came up with his name, including the fact that he spelled it with a “y” instead of an “I” and told me to watch out for him, that he would lead me down a dark path, not get along with my family, and that he was bad news. I assured her that that was the past she was picking up on, not the future. She seemed dubious, but what could she say really? She’d given me her warning and I discounted it completely.
Sweet 16 Party
I had an awesome Sweet 16 birthday party. Best party ever! Instead of everyone going home at a reasonable hour, we all decided to pile into some cars and go carousing all night long. No parental knowledge or supervision within miles! At one point we hooked up with an old friend, named John, who mentioned he was just hanging out at a pizza parlor. So we high-tailed it over to meet up with him. Who was sitting with him? Bryan. At age 16 he was incredibly handsome, chiseled features, muscular build, he actually looked a lot like Matt Damon. And I was on this incredible high from it being my party night. I was quite flirtatious with him, enjoying being the center of attention. I gave Bryan my phone number and told him to call me sometime. Now that we were all 16 the distance between our homes was no big deal. Bryan lived a 30 minute drive away from me. At age 14, that’s too far to get your mom to drive you. At age 16 with a driver’s license, that’s nothing!
A Slow Start
Bryan came back into my life. I found out soon enough that he didn’t have his license. Bryan would often ride his bike to my house, which would take him like an hour and a half! Sometimes he was hanging out with John, who lived much closer to me. There was a group of us, we’d all hang out, boys and girls alike. We’d stay up all night talking about life, the universe, and everything. All of us were smart, a little weird, and very open-minded. Good group. Bryan started putting the moves on me, just like I wanted, but apparently I was going a little too slow for him. When I tried to put the brakes on a little, he gravitated to my best friend who was more than eager for a shot at this handsome hunk. Before I knew it, she was doing things with him that I was only dreaming about. I felt terribly jealous. Going against my own instincts, I fought to win him back, and back he came. Now that I had him, what was I going to do with him?
Darkness Reveals Itself
I turned 17 shortly after Bryan and I officially started dating. Around this time I started to notice Bryan’s dark side. He was angry all the time. He was vain. If his hair wasn’t perfect he wouldn’t leave his house, cancelling plans if necessary. We argued a lot. He never had any money, but I did, so I often paid his way to the movies and bought him dinner and gifts. I thought I was making life easier for him, but in reality this made him feel ashamed of his lack of money. He lived with his father, but I was never allowed to go inside his house. He was ashamed of that too. He lived in sort of a bad neighborhood so I never really pressed to hang out there anyway. Plenty to do in my neck of the woods. At this point in time I didn’t understand the depths of Bryan’s dark side. I sort of felt sorry for him, though I think that just made things worse. And I started to see evidence of violence. He would throw things at the wall. He would push me around a little when he was upset with me. He was always brandishing his fists at me like he had to hold himself back from hitting me.
He wasn’t all dark though. I was still totally attracted to his intellect, his creativity, his open-mindedness, and his love of role playing games (like Dungeons and Dragons). We got along swimmingly when he wasn’t mad at me. He was fiercely loving towards me, almost possessive. At the time I thought it was cool.
Bryan wanted to have sex and I didn’t. I just wasn’t ready. I figured I would be at some point. I liked kissing him and making out a little. He was already sexually experienced thanks to a single mom on his block who took it upon herself to deflower all the cute teenagers nearby. He was getting tired of waiting for me to be ready while I demanded he be loyal only to me. One night I was driving him back to his house and he was drinking beer in the car. This was beer he was supposed to be bringing home to his father (long story, don’t ask), but he decided to drink the whole six pack on the way home.
When we got to his house he told me to pull into the alley around the back so we could make out a little. It was late and I wanted to go home, but he insisted and I hated to say no because it would lead to a horrible argument. To avoid that, I agreed. So there we were, sitting in my car, in a dark alley, when Bryan said he was tired of waiting for me to be ready and wanted to have sex right there and then, in the car. I protested saying that was not how I wanted to lose my virginity! How horribly unromantic. He started to get angry and I got really uncomfortable. He got more aggressive and insistent, pulling down his pants to show me the goods. But with all the alcohol in his system he seemed to be having a hard time getting an erection. I laughed at him. That was my fatal mistake. Above all else, Bryan hated appearing foolish in any way, shape or form. If you made fun of Bryan you were as good as dead. Before I knew what was happening, he punched me really hard across the face. I saw a blue spark of electricity upon impact, and then darkness. As I came to, I noticed three things at roughly the same time. First, I couldn’t move my arms at all. My head was lolled to the side and I couldn’t move it. Second, I noticed I was crying, that there were tears streaming down my face. And third, Bryan was having sex with me. I tried so hard to move, but it was like the electrical system in my body was shorted out. I couldn’t lift my arms or speak. I could only lay there waiting for it to be over. It didn’t take long. He ejaculated. That seemed to calm him right down. As the moments passed, my brain was booting up, and I was finally able to move again. I was so dazed, I don’t think I could even form a sentence. I remember looking at him and he actually looked remorseful. But that didn’t last. He pulled up his pants, patted me on the head, opened the car door, said, “I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow” and hopped the fence into his backyard, and off he went.
My thought at that moment was, “What the hell just happened to me?” I was sitting there alone trying to piece together what happened. This is the part that’s going to sound crazy. I wasn’t sure if I’d been raped or not. Back in those days there was no date rape. No one was talking about rape much at all. There was no discussion of domestic violence back then either. My only thought was, “Shoot, I shouldn’t have angered him so much. Look what happened. I’d better be more careful next time.” My other thought was that he didn’t seem to think he’d done anything wrong, otherwise why would he tell me he loved me, pat me on the head, and take off like nothing bad had happened?
I pulled myself together, got into the driver’s seat, and drove slowly home. By the time I got home I felt something odd going on down there. When I looked, there was blood and semen pooled in my underwear. I snuck into my house, hoping everyone was asleep, and took a shower. There was a red mark on my face where he’d punched me. I cried myself to sleep, unsure what tomorrow would bring. I felt ashamed and humiliated. I retreated into a shell, broken.
Classic Abusive Relationship Coming Right Up
The day after the rape he acted like nothing had happened so I just decided to forget about it. I didn’t want to be a rape victim and deal with all of that so I rationalized it all away. I stayed with Bryan for three and a half years. Yes, you read that right. For three and a half years, I was part of a violent, sexually and emotionally abusive relationship. I learned what his triggers were and made sure I didn’t trigger him. He was always careful not to hit me in places that would show the bruises. He went to work on my self esteem, telling me I was no good and no one else would want me. He isolated me from all my friends, until the only friends we had left were his. He was possessive, jealous, and angry all the time. He often accused me of sleeping with other people, though I never did because frankly, sex disgusted me so why would I want to have sex with anyone? We continued to have sex very regularly, sometimes three times per day. During sex I would just tune him out. He was usually done in a minute or so. My pleasure was never his concern. I just wanted it to be over asap. If I ever tried to refuse having sex with him he would either argue me into submission or just pull me into the bedroom and have at it. Did I mention how muscular he was? I was never a match for his physical strength.
But I had a few things going for me. First, he was so conciliatory after hurting me, that he actually handed all the power back to me for a short while. I would use this mercilessly to get him to do what I wanted. This was not healthy, but it was the only time I had power in the relationship. Second, I made all the money and he made none, so he was dependent on me financially. This gave me some control since if he wanted anything he had to ask me for it. I would use that to keep him in line sometimes. And third, we lived in separate homes, so when necessary I could stay away from him for a little while.
None of my family knew what was happening, but none of my family liked Bryan too much. We were good at hiding our situation. I thought this was how all relationships were. My friends noticed he would sometimes punch me in the arm, but I would act like it was no big deal and they would keep quiet. None of my friends ever wanted to challenge Bryan because his fists usually did the talking for him. I would sometimes think about breaking up with Bryan but whenever I brought it up he would cry and get so upset, and he’d tell me he couldn’t live without me. In fact, it got to the point where he told me if I ever tried to leave him, he would kill me and my family, and then kill himself. I believed him. He had no less than a dozen weapons in his possession from knives, to crossbows, and even a gun.
The Bright Side of Bryan
If things were all bad all the time, I surely would have left him. But there was another side to Bryan. He was very protective of me. No one could hurt me but him. If anyone gave me any kind of problem in life, Bryan would handle it. He argued with my parents a lot. They eventually banned me from seeing him, but that didn’t help as it only meant I had to sneak out of the house to see him. I knew my parents wouldn’t kill me for doing that, and I felt Bryan might kill me if I didn’t. There were times when Bryan put his own life in danger to protect me. Uh, usually the danger was because Bryan was picking a fight with someone, or we were somewhere sort of seedy, but he was still willing to take a knife in the gut to protect me.
Bryan was exceptionally intelligent. He blew me out of the water when it came to grades and studying, and I was no slouch! His teachers loved him. He was a prized pupil. I loved role playing with Bryan and our friends. We’d spend hours upon hours at a time just role playing. As long as we were around other people, Bryan acted the part of a good boyfriend. It was only when we were alone and fighting that things turned ugly. I learned to just deal with it, afraid to break up with him. I had such low self esteem, and I figured I was lucky to have a guy in my life at all. Even though he was very possessive, I took this as a sign of devotion.
Bryan and I both went to the same college. During my sophomore year I wanted to join the sorority that my twin sister had joined. Bryan didn’t want me to be in a sorority because he felt it would take time away from him. But I really wanted to do it so he relented (yes I had to get his permission to do almost everything). He warned me, however, that if I got so involved with my sorority that I started to neglect him that I would have to quit. I became my pledge class president, and I thought he’d be angry but he actually seemed proud of me. What he didn’t realize was that the sorority would eventually lead to the escape of his most prized possession: me.
There was a girl in my sorority who apparently was in an abusive relationship of her own. We discovered each other’s secret one night when we double dated. She asked me if my boyfriend hit me and I found out that hers hit her. We commiserated together. It was the first time I ever found someone in the same boat as me. One day she came to me and told me she’d left her abusive boyfriend and that I should leave mine. She explained what an abusive relationship was, because at this point I still had no idea I was even in one. I got so angry at her. It was like I was sitting in a jail cell with her, happy for the company, and she got up and tried the door only to find it unlocked. She left our happy, safe little cell and encouraged me to leave too. But I was too afraid. So I pushed her out of my life and pretended she didn’t exist. But it nagged at me. This idea that you could leave the relationship was alien to me.
The more time and energy I put into the sorority, the more power, courage, and authority I started to have. My self esteem improved. I took on officer positions and got things done. People encouraged me, people praised me, and I started to find my will again. Bryan started noticing that I would back talk more often, that I wasn’t in line anymore, and he started to hate the sorority.
Finally things were coming to a head. One weekend, our sorority Rush weekend, I told Bryan I couldn’t see him at all because there were going to be tons and tons of parties. From Friday to Monday I was going to be 100% committed to the sorority Rush events. He said, “But I need you to drive me and Brandon to the opening of a new movie on Saturday.” (I was his ride everywhere he needed to go). I told him I couldn’t take him and his friend to a movie because I would be fined $50 for every party I missed and to find his own ride or take the frakkin’ bus. He said, “I don’t give a damn how much it costs you. I want to see this movie on this day and time and you’re going to take me.” I protested, “But there are 8 parties, so that’s $400 I’ll have to pay if I take you to a movie you can see any other day. Is that what you want me to do?” He said, “Make your choice. It’s the sorority or me.” He hung up on me, confident I would choose him, as I had always done in the past. I spent the entire night awake trying to figure out what to do. The biggest internal battle raged inside me. I thought he was being completely unreasonable in his request. I kept remembering his threats to kill me and my family if I ever broke up with him. I cried, I freaked out, I didn’t want to let my sorority sisters down. But denying Bryan his request would be inviting certain death. What to do?
Finally I made my decision. I called him at 5:30 in the morning because I couldn’t wait another minute. He got groggily on the phone. I said, “Bryan, I never want to see you again.” He said, “What?” I repeated, “I never want to see you again. I’d rather be dead than spend another minute with you.” I waited for the tirade. I was actually prepared to die if I had to. I was done. He tried pleading with me, threatening me, and reasoning with me, but my decision had been made and I knew I wouldn’t change my mind. He threatened to kill me and I told him that if he felt that strongly about it, to go right ahead. Inside I flinched, but I stayed strong. To everything he said, I simply replied, “I never want to see you again.” It was like stabbing him in the heart with a dagger. Eventually I had to tell him our phone call was over and hung up on him. I immediately broke down crying, but I was happy. I was free. No matter what he did to me now, I would die free if that’s what it came to.
I called his friends and told them we broke up and asked them to please not pick Bryan up and bring him to my house. I went to my sorority event, a total wreck from being up all night crying, and I came home watchful. I looked over my shoulder for days, and then weeks. He never came by. He didn’t try to call me. I thought maybe I was going to make it through the break-up unscathed.
One day a letter arrived in the mail. My mom intercepted it and read it. Big mistake. It was 27 pages of Bryan ranting and raving at me. It started off with begging. “Please come back to me. I promise I’ll treat you better.” And segued into “You god damn bitch. Who do you think you are for leaving me? If I can’t have you, no one will!” My mom of course got really upset when she read this. I assured her it was some prank and that Bryan wasn’t going to come and kill us all in our sleep, as he’d threatened in the letter. But I was a nervous wreck wondering when I’d be on the receiving end of his knife or gun.
I healed. I slowly got my life back together. One thing that helped me tremendously was finding out that Bryan had been cheating on me much of the time we were together. I had no idea! When we broke up, he went to her immediately, and found solace in her arms. I think that girl saved my life, actually. He had someone else lined up in case things went south with me. I was so grateful he’d been cheating on me. Crazy as that sounds. I was 20 years old when I left Bryan. By the time I was 23 I had found my personal power, confidence, and strength. I’d dated a few guys, but nothing terribly serious. And I met Steve. Over the years, Steve helped me heal the damage my relationship with Bryan had done. I had sexual hang ups, anxiety, and control issues. I used to have dreams that Bryan would sneak into my home and kill me and my husband and children. Steve patiently helped me deal with the aftermath of the abusive relationship, and he helped me understand how I ended up spending three and a half years with an abusive boyfriend.
It took me years but I finally understood what happened. The piece of information I’ve yet to reveal is about Bryan’s mother. When Bryan was a young boy, I think he was 9 if I remember correctly, his mom left home with Bryan’s sister, in the middle of the night. Imagine it. Imagine your mom taking off with only your sister and not you, in the middle of the night, without saying good bye. That crushed his spirit. He must have been wondering what was so terrible about him that his own mother would leave him behind and take only his sister with her. For many years he had no contact with his mother, so angry was he at her. Bryan suffered from extreme abandonment issues. This is why he clung so possessively to me, why he threatened to kill me and kill himself if I ever left him, and why he had other women lined up in case I should leave him.
I came to a point in my adult life where I completely understood how Bryan and I ended up in an abusive situation. He was angry and afraid, which led to the violence. He couldn’t bear to be left by someone who loved him. He did what he had to to keep his relationship with me secure. He used control, violence, emotional manipulation, and sometimes even devotion, loyalty, and love. And I stayed in the relationship because I had low self esteem, I was a rescuer, and couldn’t imagine abandoning someone in pain. We were a total vibrational match for that relationship.
Steve helped me understand that it takes two people making a choice to be in an abusive relationship. Initially I blamed Bryan for everything. Then I blamed myself for staying with him when I had the choice to leave any time I wanted. I was all for giving up control of my life to someone else, and Bryan was a perfect match to take control of my life and my will. Eventually I came to realize that we were both young and inexperienced. I couldn’t rescue him and he couldn’t overcome his feelings of anger and abandonment. He needed professional help but got none. I went through a process of forgiving Bryan for everything that happened between us. I no longer blamed either of us. I just had understanding. Then came the compassion for the little boy whose mom abandoned him in the middle of the night and went off and created new children without him. His father also remarried and had new children. Bryan had no one.
In my 20’s I had a chance contact with Bryan, thanks to some mutual friends who were discussing me with him one night at dinner. On the phone with me he admitted to raping me and apologized sincerely for it. That he even admitted it was a big part of my healing. In my early 30’s I thought about contacting Bryan to tell him that I had forgiven him for everything and to show him I understood why things went down the way they went down. I knew he lived in Portland, but I couldn’t find any contact information for him anywhere. I figured that one day we would eventually have our conversation. But that wasn’t to be.
Death Comes Marching In
In February of this year an old friend contacted me to ask if I’d heard the news. Bryan had killed himself during a police stand-off. Here is the short version of the story as it was relayed to me. After we broke up, Bryan went to graduate school and became a social worker who did wonderful things with war veterans related to post traumatic stress disorder. He fell in love with a woman who had three children and married her. He helped her fight to get sole custody of her children. This put him in significant debt. He decided he wanted to leave his job and go become a fiction writer (something I think he would have been enormously successful doing). But the stress of debt and the custody battle, and possibly some depression, caused him to check himself into a mental institution for a little while. When he left after a few weeks he was just getting back on his feet. His wife was on her way to the pharmacy to pick up medication for him after speaking to someone on a mental health line. The mental health line worker decided to initiate a suicide check, so police were dispatched to Bryan’s home to “check on him.” Bryan wasn’t a big fan of the police. He was really into survival, so he was always prepared in case he needed to survive after a nuclear war or to run from the police. So when the police arrived he got upset, afraid, and angry when they wouldn’t leave. He barricaded himself in his house, got out one of his rifles, and trained it out the window towards the cops.
The cops decided they had a “gunman” on their hands, cleared the street, and called the SWAT team. Bryan called his wife who was on her way home. She tried to calm him down, but the police took the phone away from her, shoved her in the back of a police car, and refused to let her try to talk him down. This agitated Bryan even more. He held his position for 8 hours, and finally gave up, shooting himself and ending his tumultuous life. He was 39 years old.
Coping With Bryan’s Death
When I heard the news I became very sad. He didn’t deserve that kind of end. All he wanted was to be loved, unconditionally, by someone who cared about him. I couldn’t even imagine what kind of fear he was feeling during the 8 hours he was alone, isolated, and holed up in his house. He probably figured he was going to jail no matter what, since he’d pulled a gun on the cops. At the very least, they’d probably commit him to an institution for treatment or monitoring. You never wanted to back Bryan into a corner. He’d take the extreme way out if he had to.
I’ve sat with this news for weeks. I spoke to our old friend, John, who helped me put together many of the pieces of Bryan’s final years on Earth. I’m told Bryan received awards and accolades for his work with war veterans. His memorial service brought more than 100 people to his side, eulogizing him for the caring, compassionate person he’d been to them. I’d like to think Bryan finally found love in his life.
So the first thing on my mind was trying to connect with Bryan on the other side to see how he was doing. In the case of suicide I sometimes find people who go to a very dark place and rehash their suicide over and over again. But I couldn’t find him. I know other mediums have mentioned that when people close to them die it can take months or even years to get communication. I think it’s hard when you’re so close. But I kept my antenna attuned for Bryan.
Yesterday I finally had the communication from him that I’d been seeking. He is definitely in a good place mentally. He radiated wisdom, understanding, compassion, and a little bit of chagrin. He is whole again, totally reintegrated with his higher self. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in such a state of peace. We talked about our relationship. He told me that I probably saved his life back then because I gave him love so unconditionally. No, it wasn’t a healthy love, but he told me I probably saved him from committing suicide in his late teens. This gave him the chance to go on and help so many others in his work, and to get to a place where he could understand compassion and love himself. He thanked me for anchoring him to this world during a troubled time in his life when he felt completely unworthy of love.
The last thing he did was to carefully lift away the energetic cord that connected our heart chakras and let it fall gently to the ground. He smiled and told me our karma was complete and that I didn’t need to carry that heavy weight around anymore. We shared an energetic moment of love, and then he was gone. I don’t know if I’ll have more contact with him in the future, but I’m grateful for the contact we did have.
And so I close that chapter of my life. I have no regrets. I learned important lessons from my relationship with Bryan. Lessons about love, understanding, compassion, and forgiveness.
Rest in peace, dear one. You will not be forgotten.