Re-writing the Abuser’s Myth

I once was in a relationship with an abusive man. At first, he had me feeling so “special”, as if I created the world for him. But I also felt this as a responsibility, as if I were Atlas carrying the world upon my shoulders. Only later, did he turn the tables and inform me, in the most direct and hurtful ways, what I failure I was. I remember once, as he was building his home, I tried to help him and put in a load of laundry before I left. I did not know he had disconnected the hose and so rather than filling the washer, the water poured onto his laundry room floor. He phoned me at home, screaming, “Are you trying to ruin my f*cking life!!! YOu have ruined my home!!” I wish I could write that I was “smart enough” to leave him then, but that did not happen. Ever the do-gooder, I attempted to make it all right. I was not Atlas carrying the world, I was Sisyphus, pushing that damn boulder up the hill.

The Abuser’s Myth

My abuser placed
worlds upon my shoulder
and called me, “Atlas”.
I did not complain.

I liked the vision, but
world-carrier was not
enough, I became his
world-creator, as well.

Love, joy, peace,
money, happiness-
His wish was but
my command.

While I crafted and conjured,
He, Leo that he was,
lounged as jungle King
in my midst.

And like the tale
tells, a wound emerged
to his ragged soul
(pun, clearly intended)

Thorn in the paw,
and still he sat,
a lounge with leisure

Others with guile
and gumption
upon life’s challenges
can move planks from eyes

Yet, he was incapable
of slightest movement,
despite a working leg
or two

He whined and bellowed
and I heard that call
and I thought who would
come to rescue?

Would it be I, “Atlas”
of his world?
Saver, I was told,
until I failed

Unfortunately for the King
of such beasts, I had
turned the page and
realized I was in the wrong myth

He had said, “Atlas”,
and I had complied,
but really the role
had always been that of Sisyphus

The King was the boulder
of my life-
Prop him up, and down he rolls,
Push again, and here he returns

What can I say but
on that day,
that darn boulder,
simply “slipped”

And, he with his
wounded soul,
could not be

And I moved merrily
along free to
create my own


13 thoughts on “Re-writing the Abuser’s Myth

  1. been there, been that! what ever was a ‘problem’ I felt I ‘needed’ to fix…why? you the hell knows?
    If I’m useful and helpful perhaps, oh perhaps he’d loved me like I wanted to be loved! No, not gotta happen…took a long time to learn that.. and today? oh so much…I am ,ME and…

  2. Oh, you guys, me too!! Been there, been there, been there. I have never seen anyone so incredibly helpless. And no matter what I did, it wasn’t enough, ever ever ever. I was belittled, critizized, shamed. So insidious, so cruel, and SO feeling like Sysiphus. I am not, however, moving that merrily along, though I do try to. You all help immensely! The stone I kept trying to push back up that hill has fallen in my world too, thankfully. I’m with you all, free. I do feel a huge burden has been lifted and I will never ever again be that Atlas you talk about Kimberly. My shoulders hurt, and it’s time to rest and renew the ME that was hidden and so abused. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your words.

    • I am so glad that we can help. It took me a very, very long time to get to “merrily”, but even if I was less than merry for a long time, it was wonderful just being “me” without having to push that boulder (him) up that hill on a daily, moment by moment basis. Freedom from such things is healing in and of itself.

  3. I see my former marriage in this poem…right down to the Leo… It was one of the most frustrating times of my life (and apparently his too). I could literally feel myself giving up little by little until I care if hands were around my throat and he was squeezing. I just stared at him until it scared it him so bad that I wasn’t reacting that he let go and left the house. I packed some things and left and never looked back after that. Being Sysiphus has its dangers. That boulder can and will crush you and snuff your life out right with it. It almost did to me, and only then, did I resolve to let the boulder “slip.” Thank you for posting this – I hope just one person becomes brave enough to walk away.

    • Ha! It’s always a Leo:) What an amazing story. I have heard this before- that the abuser stops only when the one being abused stops reacting. It’s so very sick. I am so glad that you are o.k. Being Sysiphus definitely has its dangers. You become so fatigued and without a center, that it is easy to become crushed. It takes so very much bravery to walk away, doesn’t it?

  4. Very deep, very enlightened post! Thanks as always for sharing, your writing is so authentic! I am in the “Get Away From Crazy Club” with all of you!! I was going through my old journals – seeing how deeply attached I was to creating the world for and fixing the psychotic Gemini in my life made me feel nauseous. I am planning a fire pit journal burning ceremony to symbolize the good that has come from so many wasted years. I finally took my power back and life is blossoming for me!

    • Ha! I love the “Get Away from Crazy Club” idea. I am a proud member, too. I hope you did the fire pit journal burning. It’s amazing to look back on such people, events in our lives, and realize how much we were being hurt. So glad you are blossoming!!

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