The dirty little secret

Shhh...Can you keep a secret?
Shhh…Can you keep a secret? (Photo credit: jαγ △)

I was the secret.

The request came as one that was understandable. It seemed reasonable enough at the time to respect. “…because we work for the same company”…”people will talk..”. I didn’t understand it, but I knew it was important to him so I agreed. We went to dinner together at his mom’s house, where he made the same request of her. She felt the same way I did, but I could see the look on her face. She was uneasy about it, or confused about the request. I should have taken her look to heart.

Thinking the request was normal, I went to work honoring the request. I said nothing to anyone about having a new relationship with a co-worker. I believed that as things progressed, the ‘secrecy’ would change. I was proud of our relationship at first. He’s good-looking, I thought he was a gentleman, considerate and kind. I honored the request. I wonder to this day what would have happened if I had just told him I was talking to people about us? I didn’t and I was honest.

At the time, I drove shuttle. I would go to his store, and find little token gifts in the seat of my truck when I was leaving. Notes, candy, and even the occasional flower. Secret enough.

Pretty soon, I was at a different store as a delivery driver. The shuttle would come around while I was on deliveries. When I got back, there would be a box waiting for me, with my name marked all over it, in plain view, with vibrantly colored tape sealing the package. Very, VERY visible to everyone around me. I reasoned it away, being warmed by the gestures. I thought it was really sweet of him, but in my mind I was thinking, “I thought our relationship was a secret…” One shuttle driver referred to me as “Mrs. (first initial of last name)” in front of everyone. Everyone could hear. They thought it was sweet, cute, etc. Most would. I was so afraid of my boyfriend at this point, I about jumped out of my skin. I told the guy, “No one is supposed to know”. I wonder what he thought at that point. I never had the chance to ask him, later. Since my boyfriend would ‘know’, I was afraid of the pending onslaught for the remainder of the day.

It always started with the “silent treatment”, or complete ignore. We would talk about me going to his house with anticipation and happiness. Only a couple of hours later, I would be greeted with silence. It was unnerving, to say the least. I would try to get him to talk to me about what ever was bothering him. Most times it was met with quiet. Nothing. Ignore. Other times he would bark at me, “Are you talking about us?” It always floored me. Most times it was out of the blue, with absolutely no reason for the onslaught. I was honest, “No, I’m not. I’m respecting your wishes”. It became more and more apparent how MUCH he was talking, though. I wondered about this, but by the time things had progressed, I was entirely afraid to say anything to anyone, about ANYTHING. I was especially afraid to talk to him.

I was silent. He wasn’t.

One day he showed up at the store on his day off. He brought me lunch and we sat in my car. Visible. I couldn’t express niceties to anyone about that. I remember how I felt with this supposed secret sitting in my car, in plain view of everyone. Exposed and fearful. I believe it was the same day that a management trainee was supposed to go along on deliveries with drivers. I was chosen. He’s a nice man. Just as anyone would do around someone they didn’t know, he started the small talk. We had a good chat going around to area businesses. Nothing was said about my relationship with the monster. I got to my boyfriend’s house that evening, and (stupid me) told him about my day. He barked at me in a way that was becoming all too familiar, “Did he ask about us? Did you tell him anything about us?” I told him no. I steered away from any of ‘those’ topics at all times. My X told me, “He’ll be in management some day. You don’t want him having that kind of information. He’ll use it against you, later.” He made sure I understood that if I DID talk, he would know about it. I stayed silent.

Another girl I worked with was sweetly talking about her husband who surprised her with lunch, a note and a flower. She was happy. I started crying. I couldn’t talk about anything. I felt confused by everything. He was talking, but I wasn’t allowed to. He was telling all the stories, and I couldn’t.

Here’s the big DUH statement…IT WAS TO KEEP ME SILENT! He wanted to have complete control over what was being said to others. He wanted to paint the pretty pictures, keeping everyone unaware about the abuse going on, etc. It worked. Nothing like being the secret, except I was more like the ‘sacrifice’. I wasn’t really the secret. The truth behind our relationship WAS!

Remember, abusers ALWAYS demand silence. There’s not one case where they wanted their actions known. If a man, woman, co-worker, boss, etc.. demands silence, PAY ATTENTION!!! If it’s a significant other, with the same request I received, early on, TAKE NOTICE! If it doesn’t change as soon as possible, GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!

If you are in a relationship, it should be full of pride. You should WANT to tell others about it! If you have to sneak around, hide or lie about the relationship, YOU SHOULDN’T BE IN IT!

For your sake.

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5 thoughts on “The dirty little secret

  1. rohan7things

    Amazing post, and great advice at the end! We ignore warning signs at our peril. Your story is so saddening, I only hope you putting it out there might save someone else from the same fate.

    This kind of bullying and abuse cannot be justified, people need to remove themselves from situations like this as soon as possible.

    Thanks for bringing me here, I’ll be sure to link to this post next time I do an article on bullying.

    Thanks for sharing, hope things are better for you these days! No more secrets!

    Rohan.

    1. Rohan, it’s a pleasure to meet you! Thank you for visiting my blog. I agree with your comment. In all of this, some good things have come from it. I’ve always battled with self confidence. After my experience, it’s not such a major issue. I still have confidence issues, but now the inner battle surrounding it has a new, ugly face…one that i fight daily to silence. My x’s. I write each post with someone in mind. I was the person in the beginning of this blog who believed I was entirely alone, and that no one could possibly relate. I was proof that this type of abuse exists, and I knew someone, somewhere needed to hear my story. I now think of the Monster’s new wife. She wasn’t strong enough to recognize him for who he is. I am very scared for her! I’ll be here for her at any time should she need someone. I just want her to be aware of that. I know what she’s going through. Pride means more to an individual than can be expressed. So does confidence. Keep writing, talented one!!

      1. rohan7things

        You’re doing a good service telling your story and getting the word out about bullies/psychopaths. It’s amazing how an abuser can make you so sure there’s something wrong with you when in reality it is them that is the dangerous, empathy-less creature. And you only really see it when you get the hell out. Keep up the good work 🙂 And thanks for your kind words about my work as well, it’s much appreciated 🙂

  2. weareonebyruth

    Thank you for sharing your story. I added a link to my post on bullies for Sunday’s post. I was also a dirty little secret as a child. Knowing that it is no easier for an adult my heart goes out to you. I wish I could give you a hug and tell you thanks for sharing.

    1. Ruth, Thank you for your comment. I think the part that doesn’t get easier as an adult, is directly linked to our conditioning about abuse as a child. the ‘don’t tell’ policy is always there. How we handle it as an adult is supposed to change. Unfortunately it’s easier to change the color of our skin than it is to change conditioned responses. I was conditioned that I had no say. I couldn’t speak up, and god forbid I HURT the perpetrator by setting boundaries and standing up for myself. In that, it doesn’t get easier as an adult. However, we learn the better way of handling situations, so we can take the right steps to end it or stop abuse before it happens. I reasoned this away when it became apparent. When I was sure, I stayed quiet to quell potential anger. I stayed a victim because I was afraid to speak up. We have the weapons in our arsenal already. We just have to know it’s ok to use them. I’ll probably always hesitate and assess the situation, first. I definitely need to stop doing that.

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