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THE SMALLEST MAN WHO EVER LIVED

Oppdatert: 13. mai

He was charming, kind, handsome,


Smart, caring, independent,


Close with his mom, bestfriend with his sister, a mothers picture perfect son in law.


"The ultimate dream boyfriend."


He was everything.


I had known him since I was 16. Since we were just kids really. We got introduced to each other through connections in my family. Already then the people who knew us both individually were trying to match us up. (Even mom, no I mean especially mom. But I doesnt think that counts.) He was well respected in my hometown you see, people looked up to him. I guess I did as well. I remember finding him intriguing, the way he spoke and behaved. He held this natural charisma to him, while being extremely humble about it. The whole room gravitated towards him. Another thing that stood out to me was how in touch with his emotions & open to share he was, because at that age I could count on one hand (sorry not even that) the amount of boys who I could have an in depth good conversation with. On top of that, he had this way of making you feel special, everyone he talked to feel important. I was doomed. He started pursuing me romantically straight after. I, at the time wasn´t really interested in dating, and boys in general. I wanted to see the world.


We kept in touch throughout the years, by following each other on social media and checking in on each other every now and then but never til the point were we actually met up.


In 2020, I was back home again from my travel years. I had recently become single too. He asked me out as soon as he knew, and it felt natural to go on a date with him at this time, besides I was really excited to see him. Seeing him again after all those years, it just reinforced all the good thougths I had of him from before. Only this time around, I felt extremely proud of him for the man he was becoming. It was a great first date, with the "typical first date" flowers he gifted me, him coming to pick me up, him planning the date to a T, him paying, (me offering) him opening the car door for me, him following me all the way home to make sure I made it safely. It meant also talking for hours on end, drink dry white wine and do sweet nothings. I remember we were moved by how beautiful it was and maybe it was the wine, the perfect, soft, spring breeze or maybe it was the way the golden light reflected off the landscape and bathed us in its holiness together. However life happened, we got both heavily occupied with our own jobs/passions and may I add distance and covid into the mix as well. This made us maintain and stay that way.


On pause. Unfinished.


All the way until late January in 2023 we had kept little to no contact, except for a few blog posts he had commented on. Then for what seemed like out of the blue for me, he asked me out again, mind you its been years, again. I learned this to be wrong fast. It was passing twilight and the sky was streaked at the horizon in pink and purple, in whitch here he admitted to have been plotting, planning and thinking on how and when to raech out. He told me further in his vulnerable state that he had been waiting on me since we were on that date at 20, and since that first day we met at 16. We both looked at each other with our eyes softening. I do recall having found this to be extremly wholesome and romantic.


It was.


Like I said earlier, we met through family connections, my mom already knew him. (just to be on the safe side - this was no cult thing!) Anyway, they already had a connection before I came in the picture. She knew him well from school/job settings. So to no surprise my family loved him in seconds, even Magnus & Tinius. That was important to me.


We talked. A lot. About our childhoods. About the years we spent apart. About our future.


We had a lot of catching up to do.


We made up for lost time by the good conversations, and jumping right into seeing each other for as much as our schedule would allow us.


We were constantly with each other. I allowed myself this '"selfish" time, but can I be brutally honest? I think that´s totally okay and more than that, normal, to be wanting to spend as much time as possible with you´re significant other when you´re newly in love and at the very beginning of the relationship.


January & February was spent growing in love. Sleepovers at each other´s home, becoming a part of each other´s friends and families, as well as routines. We also managed to squeeze in a quick Valentine´s getaway trip to London. Everything happened so fast. But I liked it that way. I was happy.


I felt like time stood still in March & April.


Because that´s when everything changed.


For the easter we were going away, first to Denmark, just the two of us and then straight to my grandma´s family cabin. Everybody on my dad´s side of the family, my aunt & uncle with my cousins were also staying. Its a sweet family tradition, the cabin part. He had never been to neither the cabin nor Denmark, so I was excited to show him.


Past foward to Denmark, we had been on the road since early morning til we arrived at the hotel in the late evening. I was tired. He was laying on tip of the bed and throwing out comments, like making fun of it. I could tell he wasnt feeling sleepy. Rather upset.


I was standing in the doorway, keeping my distance and occupying myself with packing out items from my bag just to show that I didn´t appreciate his attitude towards me. When all of a sudden I could feel a tight grip pull my arm, I look around and he removes it and starts pushing me onto the bed.


The next thing in clear memory, was the force in his movements.


The look in his eyes.


I remember the anger.


And then...I remember the dissociation.


I made a decision in that moment to detach from any hopes and dreams and visions I had of him in my mind.


I tried to forget.


I was already prepping myself from unimaginable heartbreak. I was already trying to protect myself. All the while, not knowing how much danger my own body was in. I was in complete shock.


I don´t remember much after that.


I learned later how dissociation works. How at that moment, the pain was too great for my body to process. So I turned it all off. This explains a lot of gaps in my memory.


I don´t remember when things calmed down. I don´t remember how my levels came back down, or my pain stopping.


It all felt like a bad dream.


When we got to the cabin, after days of just him and I... I truly didn´t know how to act or the seriousness in what had happened to me. So I continued as if nothing had happened.


At the cabin my mom by accident saw a bruise on my arm, and some on my back when she was helping me tie my blouse for me in the back. (This time I forgot about my bruises existing and covering them up) She asked me about them and my response back was that I must had run into something. Her commenting on them caught me so off guard, so much so that I couldn´t even think of a good lie. She didn´t suspect anything suss, I mean why would she? I had never hid anything from her before. At the time, I wasnt in the right state of mind to fully accept the help or even really aware of it myself of what was happening to me. I was pushing away reality as a way of coping and defending myself against the pain and trauma. Therefore, I kept making excuse for the abuse.


Here, I was showing signs of being abused. In the beginning it started with feeling confused, following to doubt myself a lot, trouble concentrating, sleepless nights, (my body was always in fight/flight mode) physical injuries, resentment & bitterness, not wanting to introduce him to Sara and losing all interest in my passions/interests.


The abuse was mainly emotional and psychological but there were incidents of physical and sexual violence/abuse that kept me in fear of him all the time.


There were insults about the way I showed him my love. Not texting/and answering him enough and "right." Same with words of affirmation, Same with physical touch. Same with quality time. Acts of service & gift giving. These would take turns, so I never knew how I was supposed to be and whatever I tried was wrong. Everytime/anything I tried, it was never good enough. He was so good at convincing me that he´s behaviour was all my fault. I did not realize that I was not in control of the abuse. The abuse was a choice he made, and I could do nothing to stop him from being abusive. I could not end something I did not cause.


Riding the abuse cycle roller coaster contributed to my staying. He was not always abusive. There were periods of calm. He would shower me with gifts, trips, cook elaborate dinners, say the most beautiful things I´ve ever heard someone say to me, be affectionate, and pour on the romantic charm. Those times would remind me of why I fell in love with him. Those times would also convince me that it could get back to how it was in the beginning. I hoped the period of calm would stay beause I cared and loved for the person he was during those periods. Ultimately, that was the person I knew.


When he touched me I was unable to discern whether it was genuine or if it was followed up with something. When I felt low and felt like I was about to pass out, I couldn´t tell if my body was in serious danger or if it was my anxiety manifesting as physical symptoms. I lost that trust and connection with my body. And its taken me almost a year to get it back.


When there´s a very small window of "feeling good" and how you have to spend so much mental and physical energy to stay in that range. How most of the time you just feel like shit. The guilt and embarassment you feel for him ever making you feel happy, or loved by him. Waking up in the middle of the night from having nightmares. Feeling your body sore and convincing yourself it was just a heat of the moment type thing. Having people project on to you that you have an eating disorder when you´re doing everything you can to gain weight. Coming to terms with the fact that it´s not going to go away, it´s only going to get worse.


Long into May, I was still, completely unaware of how dire things were.


A couple days before the 17th of May, he surprised me with a trip to Gran Canaria. It ended up becoming very significant for me in my choice of ultimately leaving him.


He started to show extreme signs of possessiveness and jealousy towards me talking to people and over me in general. We have had a great day at the beach, we had dolled us nice up to go eat dinner for sunrise at this beautiful harbor. We found a cute restaurant with the most stunning view but then our waiter came.


He smiled at me, I smiled back and then I gave him my order.


What happened next is seared into my memory. After the order exchange he gave me a somber look, and with that look our table grew quiet and I knew exactly why.


He was furious at me.


I remember him expressing himself about how dissapointed he was in me. He continued to say that he´d have to break up with me if I kept doing stuff like this that upset him. (Being polite, holding eye contact and talking to a man again)


He gave me the silent treatment for the rest of the night. During the whole dinner I sat with my head held down. Each time I tried to say something, he shut me down, or ignored me. So I stopped trying, eventually we ended up sitting in complete silence.


We finished up our dinner, got back to the car, him still mad, and him still not saying anything.


I felt defeated. Hopeless.


We get on the highway and he starts driving super reckless, super fast and unserious. I´m talking up to 200 mph.


"Stop the car!" I cried out.


I´ve always been a bit afraid of speeds and heights, so this caused immediate panic in my body.


"Stop right now." I instructed him, terrified.


He slowed the speed down.


There was no sense of urgency or concern in him. Just,


"Oh, I have control honey. Just don´t do stuff that pisses me off, okay."


I was months into our relationship, my family was heavily dragged into it, I felt trapped. In that moment, in the passanger seat, I remember thinking; how was I going to survive? I sat on the toilet after the ride and googled his behavior and my symptoms for the first time.


The things that ´upset´ him were never predictable.


After searching "my boyfriend ignores me" led to my searchbar being "my boyfriend emotionally neglects and invalidates me" to where I ended up at the search " my boyfriend hurts me" I clicked on the first article that came up and everything resonated. I scrolled all the way down to the bottom off the page and let out a breath, it said ´Violence & Abuse In Intimate Relationships.´ I´ll never forget how crushed I felt but also a huge wave of relief. There was no doubt in my mind that I was experiencing this.


The desire to control me. Silent treatment. Blame-shifting.


This was the answer I had been looking for.


I woke up the next day, ready for more. More answers, more support.


I was at the start of a long journey, beginning to acknowledge that I was being treated badly in my relationship. That was the start of coming back to myself and gaining awareness. It was massive.


After our Gran Canaria vacation my symptoms had escalated.


I had unexplainable bruises on my body. Repeatedly urinary tract infections. Extreme morning nausea. Isolated myself from friends & becoming emotionally distant from mom and dad. Extreme high anxiety around him.


I couldn´t gain weight, despite being hungry and having an appetite. My body was trying to escape, to leave the situation by sleeping more and more. My emotions were numb, so my body was trying to talk to me instead. I had been forced to turn off my feelings, because if I allowed myself to feel, I´d feel sadness as deep as the ocean, or with desperation on my knees begging for being seen. It was out of survival, truly.


I spent months, suffering silently, ignoring all of my body´s red flags.



The thing with abusive people is that "many of them appear like ideal partners in the early stages of a relationship. The warning signs of abuse don´t always appear overnight but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows."


My relationship, exactly.



When I got back home, I was feeling feelings of confusion, fear, and anger. I had never experienced this level of loneliness, fatigue and exhaustion.


I had used my remaining strenght to get myself through Gran Canaria.


When I found time to be alone, I cried.


I´m so thankul for to this day that Sara and I had made a plan back in December, I think? that we were going together to move her stuff out her apartment in Trondheim at the end of May. She is a big part of how I realized what I was finding myself in. We got to talking and she managed to open me up about ...everything. Sara is my soft spot and definitely my safe place and home.


But still, talking and admitting everything to Sara was extremely hard on me, and I´ll tell you why. Telling Sara all this meant to myself that I could never go back to him, ever. It meant saying goodbye to the part in me that still loved and cared for him. It meant saying goodbye to the good parts of us. It was letting go of the tiniest glimmer of hope I had held onto for all of those years.


In the living room, Sara gave me another run down of abusive relationships. For the first time, I began to *really* think about the word "abuse" internally, but could still not say out loud. Things I already knew from my many sleepless nights researching.


Then she asked me if I had any questions.


"I´m... really not okay" is all I could manage to get out.


She knew it too. I saw her face. I saw her face actually look at mine.


She quickly dialed 112. Sara did all the talking. I was scared. Talking to people who were in authority position meant making this real.


It was a moment of clarity for me at the time, for the deep, insightful understanding Sara always have had with me. The angel of a friend she is, not just as friend but as a person.


Sara, the next day had me call my mom to tell her that I needed to talk to both mom and dad straight away when I got home. In a sense that, I couldn´t back out. Finally, a sense of urgency.


Now the conversation I had dreaded, but so much needed to have with mom & dad. I love them so much and they love me so much. The conversation felt like a warm hug. Even tho I was really mad, not at them, but the situation.


I watched the room crumble. My mom, wrapping her arms around me. My dad, sobbing silently.


I, however did not move. I sat in the bed, staring out into nothing.


I wanted everyone to see me this way. Stone faced. Unaffected.


And not because I wanted to control the room by being "strong."


I wanted everyone to see how angry I was.


I felt it swirl in my chest hearing his name, trying to guage if I was understanding what they were saying.


I looked back at them, with zero emotion on my face and said,


"Yeah."


I felt an extreme sense of injustice on behalf of my parents. They also were victims of abuse. Love-bombing, manipulation, gaslighting. He betrayed them too. They trusted him with me.


I had completely grown out of love with him. The reality of the situation had just settled in, and my heart dropped for a second, cause what was left was the reminder of what it never had been,


Love.


It was all bitter, no sweet.


For the first time in my life, I felt completely disconnected from myself.


Despite the emotional state and utter exhaustion, I still felt the need to control my feelings.


I wanted mom & dad to know that I was fine, that this was all so unnecessary and to please not cry.


What I know now that I didn´t know then, is what they knew. What the whole room knew.


They knew I was hurting.



The next day I sat in a women´s crisis center. I was met with warm eyes, warm hands and a warm hug.


When she heard some details, she sounded frazzled. Without any question, she let out a breath and said,


"I´m 99% sure you´ve been in an abusive relationship and I´m 100% certain none of this is your fault."


She continued to say that I had crossed off on all categories of abuse.


That stuck with me.


Because of my physical state, emotional state and my lack of knowledge, I was unable to comprehend the severity of the situation. I had no idea what sulking was. He did this a lot.


"Sulking is to be silent and refuse to smile or be pleasant to a person because you are angry about something that they have done."


After this, is when my memory starts to get fuzzy. I do remember feeling like this woman were an angel sent from heaven.


After an hour of information, answering questions, us talking, I remember her soft voice and the way she didn´t attempt to sugar coat anything at all, proceed to say,


"Sofie, you´re safe now."


I had no energy to process the magnitude of this moment, of this feeling. I could barely keep my head up. My body was so sick. And emotionally I was so hurt.


I smiled.


The history of violence in the relationship scared me. I was constantly worried for him showing up at my house, talking my mom out of it, running into him, hurting me, hurting himself, just what he´d be capable of.


Still, deep down, I felt it, I knew.


I was safe.



A year later, and it´s still hard for me to accept that this happened to me.


It always seemed like there was something more important to do than feeling my feelings around this life change.


"Dealing with" or "processing" what happened felt too big to tackle. I kept putting it off. I maintained the functional aspect of my health. I kept my social life running. I got comfortable at talking about it after a few days.


But when it came to think about those days and, remembering it, and worst of all WRITING about it...I´d do anything in my power to avoid it.


"Maybe next week."


"Maybe next year."



I had developed quite a bit of shame around it in general.


I felt shame for not leaving at the earliest signs.


Shame for had been in a relationship with him to begin with.


Shame for letting him near and close the people I love.


Shame for thinking it was me there was something wrong with.


Shame for that I had loved him.



I often felt like my intelligence had been targeted and also were being questioned by it, accused for not being smart enough to have seen it through. See through him.


That I wasn´t strong enough.


The hardest thing I´ve had to deal with since the abuse is feeling safe in my own body.


For months, I was constantly worried that I wasn´t okay. For months my body was screaming that something was wrong, only to be told by people around me that I was overthinking everything.


Once things went really wrong, I had no concept of a healthy baseline. I felt like a foreigner in my own body. For three months, I would wake up, shaking, not being able to breathe. I never felt safe. It would take an hour for my nervous system to calm down. Not being able to trust your own body is terrifying.


Another thing I´ve really had to work on is a whole lot of bottled up anger. I´ve been angry, a lot. I mean, with reason for, but it´s just now to the point where it doesn´t do me any good. I can admit I´ve placed much of it on men in general, unfairly, I know. So where I am with it now is that I´m doing so much better, but it comes back when I feel triggered. Let me rephrase that, bad behaviour in men I hear about, experience or see triggers it back.


Lastly, I have to mention intimacy. That´s been challenging for me. I can give myself physically and I can give myself emotionally, but both of them, together, to one person, thats scary to me now. That´s something Im currently working on. I know I have it in me tho. I´m fully capable to give and recieve love.


My dad has a famous qoute from our childhood that I think about often.


"Face it, and embrace it."


Facing it is only half the battle. And for so long, I´ve refused to embrace the fact that I was a victim.


About nine months ago, I decided to really apply this advice from my dad.


Time to embrace it.


The more I learn about abusive relationships, the less shame I feel.


The more I accept what happened to me, the safer I feel.


As far with my anxiety, I am now able to calm down my body and my mind with ease.


I am constantly rebuilding that connection and listen to what it´s trying to tell me.


Another thing that has helped me, is having someone to talk to. I have an incredible support system, but it´s nice to talk to someone who knows exactly what I´ve been through.


I´ve had help from professionals, and talking to them has done wonders for my confidence and mindset. They´re actually the ones who encouraged me to share this blog post.


I´ve been putting off writing this for a year now.


So this post is a huge step towards acceptance.


It was really difficult to return to these feelings. Memories I haven´t revisited since.


But I want to heal. I want to be able to talk about this experience without my voice cracking.


Without wondering how it´s being perceived.


I deserve to rid myself of the shame surrounding something that happened to me.


And writing this was a big part of that.


Maybe I can add to that qoute.


Face it, embrace it, give yourself grace for it.


Dad? What do you think?


Thank you to everyone who read this.


You listened.


And that means more to me than anything.


Now, I think the child within my heart can rise above.


Sofie

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