The problem with recognizing that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship is that the abuser, by definition, knows your thought process and personality so well that they can convince you of almost anything, including (especially) that there isn't any abuse taking place at all.

It takes a special kind of intimacy for emotional abuse to work. Because abuse IS a kind of intimacy, a very intense kind, where somebody knows how to make you hurt in just the right way for you to do what they want. And because it is intimate, they can mistaken it for loving behavior, believe that they are not hurting you, but helping you. They know you better than you know yourself, and they hold it over your head constantly. They teach you that the abusive behavior is not a sign that the relationship is in trouble: it's a sign that it's stronger than any other relationship you've ever had.

This also creates a problem in breaking away. Because even as you know what you've done is right, that the longer you spend away from them the more you can see just how fucked up everything was, the kind of intimacy that an abuser has with you is now gone, leaving a big, empty hole that whispers, " What the hell just happened?" Abuse has an addictive quality all of its own. This is why many people in abusive relationships often go back: they know at every possible rational level that it's wrong, but they also know that this horrible sense of absence and loss won't go away without them back in your life, controlling it. Before her, I couldn't understand why people would ever think this way. Now I know.

I'm sitting here, fresh out of just such a relationship... I'd never been in one before, never thought that I could be, which is probably why it happened so easily, why getting out was so hard. Everyone around me tells me that I've done the right thing, it was about time, etc. I know they're right. I don't want to go back. But I'm also going through a strange sort of withdrawal, where life doesn't have much purpose anymore, and I'm a hollow thing that's only able to feel guilt and grief. I know that I will recover eventually, that I just have to make it through this part and I'll be in the clear. Just as long as I ignore her emails and messages telling me that I am out of my mind, that I destroyed a perfect thing, all because of something that was in my head.

There was something in my head. It was her.