“No matter how hard he physically and mentally hurt me, I couldn’t leave him as I successfully assured myself that he was looking after me, just like my father never did.”
Did you ever have a desire for something that for years has never came true, but on the other hand you’re actually feeling grateful that your wish had never been granted? I did.
I wished that I come from an intact family, not from a divorced family who lives separately from my father and sister on a different island of the largest archipelago country in the world – Indonesia. Somehow, it relieved me. I no longer needed to see how frightening my father was when he tortured and abused my mother – physically or mentally – over and over again.
However, it makes me longing for a father or brother figure. It’s also attracted me sexually to men. I only lived with my mom for as long as I can remember. Then, 8 years ago when I started to pursue my Bachelor Degree and lived separately with her: I ventured to open my heart in a love journey of same sex world.
I still remember, it was in the mid of 2012 when Grindr, Tinder, or any dating app was still not a popular thing in Indonesia. So I created an alter ego Twitter account – a side of my personality that I can’t show in the “real” world because I was frightened of being unaccepted by Indonesian society – where I found my first love under the name of Joker. Someone that I hoped could play a role as a figure that I had never gotten so far.
I was drunk in love with Joker’s sweetness. We celebrated our 3 months of being a couple in the most fancy pool restaurant in town. He gave me a rose and a teddy bear, “I won’t be able to accompany you to sleep every day. But at least Teddy will,” he said.
Never once crossed my mind that things that happened in my mom’s life also happened to me. At that time I was sending some photos of us from Joker’s phone, when there was a message from someone confirming their booty call appointment.
How can I forget my first heartbreak? When I was shaking and crying out loud? But he told me that it’s going to be his last time to break mine. It is my fault to think that he’d be true. Back then I still had not noticed what Shakespeare said, “expectation is the root cause of all heartache”, because expectation always leads to disappointment.
Why? I always entrusted Joker with my motorcycle and dormitory room key while I was going back to my hometown. A good friend of mine saw Joker bring another guy to my room. Yes, he had sex behind my back in my own room, in my own bed. A place that I consider to be the safest place ever, suddenly made me feel like I was in hell while inside.
With his sweet talk, he successfully convinced me to once again forgive him. At that time, I struggled to adapt to new circumstances when my psychiatrist diagnosed me with Bipolar. So, more or less he said, “No one is going to accept your true self just like I did.”
I realized that it’s not easy to live with someone who had an unstable mental health state. That’s why I thought it’s okay when we’re arguing and he started to slap me or kick me. Because in the meantime, he managed a great relationship with my mom and my closest friend – as I introduced him as my senior who turned out to be my best friend for always helping me with my college tasks and life hacks.
He gave me a ride and literally took me everywhere throughout my activities. He travelled for miles and picked me up just to make sure that I got to campus on time, or to ensure that I arrived safely at my dormitory. No matter how hard he physically and mentally hurt me, I couldn’t leave him as I successfully assured myself that he was looking after me just like my father never did.
However, the more I did nothing about the violence that he inflicted on me, the more he was arbitrary towards me. I had to face the hard fact that my first love and a person who took away my virginity not only slapped my face and kicked my body, but also threw a plate full of dishes into me and threw a bucket onto my body until it was broken.
Living as a Muslim in such a country which contains the largest Muslim population in the world and a patriarchal society, nobody knows I’m gay. It also would be such a shame for me to reveal that I’d been in a relationship with an abuser for 29 months. A “Me Too” movement is far away from a point where we were 6 or 7 years ago in Indonesia.
If I could turn back time, I always hoped I could get to the point where I realized a reason that was meaningful enough to make me leave him faster than I actually did. It was at the end of 2014. Now I’m starting to have a conversation with my own self:
“Yes, you lost a father figure. Yes, you have a mental health state. But, that’s not an excuse for someone to use or to hurt you. You wanted everything that you never had. But since the very beginning, you have survived without any of those things, even though you struggled so bad. So what makes it any different now, if you get what you want but you let yourself be a victim of gaslighting, physical and mental abuse?”
It’s a simple inner-conversation, but it’s a big leap for me: to make the decision of getting out from such a toxic relationship. As The Rolling Stones said, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find. You get what you need.”