His Emotional Abuse Left Me With Zero Self-Esteem

Posted by Oshee Johri in Mental Health
October 11, 2017
This story is a part of Youth Ki Awaaz’s weekly topic #WorldMentalHealthDay to create a conversation about mental health in India. Share your personal stories of coping with a mental illness, trying to access mental healthcare or any experience with mental health here.

Love is four letters

one word

spread across sheets

in cheap motels


foggy streetlights.

Breathe in words

breathe out blood,

It’s all the same,

it’s all too dull 

in bright.

Do you know about those deep dark circles a few girls running around you have? Clasped under their eyeballs like a leech, deepening with each shadow the hair on their face cast.

That’s how I felt, emotionally. But I don’t feel that way now. The rains would sweep up my windows like waves on a shore. No, there wasn’t blood or blue-green wounds all over my body – I just shivered most of the time.

I met that guy in a mask of whiskey and cigarettes, at a house that’s mattresses had been burnt down on not just one, but several occasions. He won me over with poems, kisses and chocolates that were delivered at my doorstep for three straight weeks until I agreed to be his girlfriend.

What I didn’t know was that I had signed up to become a garbage dump and a human punching bag. After a couple of months, he called me and said that he couldn’t continue to be monogamous. I agreed.

We became loose ends, like a shoelace waiting to be tied to a third person extending our hands for their help. The days were long – distances were created because of his job, the railway tracks between our cities and collapsed bridges between our brooks would get in the way.

I am trying to put everything as it is, in the exact way it happened and I don’t know if it’s making sense here, but I’m trying to not be incomprehensible. The issue is that I don’t know how to say it in a way that it could be felt in its entirety.

There were battles and wars, not mere arguments. I was a few years younger to him, which soon became my annoying ‘half-assed intellect’ from what used to be ‘charming’. My advice and opinions were reduced to nothing. I was reduced to an object of his analysis and was mostly told brutal ‘truths’ all day. I once returned from the railway station, alone because he forgot that I was coming and that he was busy that day.

I didn’t know what I held on to anymore. Meetings reduced to nothing, conversations became ugly, and about how I was incompetent. When we would sit and talk with a group of friends, everything I would say would be dismissed with a violent shake of his head.

I wouldn’t get my book from the shelf if I asked him to pass it because I was a woman. Yes, I was told that, in a very serious manner. He’d give me reasons why patriarchy thrived which were valid, but he suddenly thought that they were enough reasons for it to continue.

I wept for nights and days, counting my flaws and soon enough, my fingers and toes combined weren’t enough to count them. There was nothing good about me, what I wrote wasn’t good, whatever I did was immature and whatever I thought was shallow. I was the faulty switch on a perfect switchboard.

He would be disgusted by my touch and reduced me to his ‘bitch’ –  exactly how the word is projected in our society. My crying was so regular, that it wasn’t paid heed to anymore. He never said that he loved me, but I kept reminding myself that he did because he said it twice in the beginning.

I know people go through different and more severe kinds of emotional abuse. Some have their partners enquiring every second of their whereabouts, some are threatened over little everyday mistakes. All of this is unhealthy and vicious. In my case, I had hit zero self-esteem. I was the worst that there was. I couldn’t talk to him face to face and I kept looking for his approval.

However, soon enough, I found the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve left him and all that he brought. I know he doesn’t care and never will. I don’t even expect him to.

I just hope that a lot of people don’t ever have to go through something like this.