The Sleeping Beauty: Waking Up from the Nightmare of Abuse


I know you,
I walked with you once upon a dream
I know you,
The gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam
And I know its true
That visions are seldom all they seem
But if i know you
I know what you’ll do
You’ll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream.

Once Upon A Dream, Sleeping Beauty

I’ve never understood this song the way I do now. It suddenly popped into my head as I was replaying scenes and soundbites from my relationship. Everything began to coalesce and assemble into a very frightening picture. The realization that the image portrayed to me was not reality sat in my chest like a brick. It still does.

As I learn more about the patterns that manifested, the warning signs I ignored and the way I felt in my relationship, all of it begins to make sense. I begin to see myself as the Sleeping Beauty, waiting for a prince that doesn’t exist. Dreaming of the man she loves, who loves her and always will–even when he hurts her. “You’ll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream.”

I realize now that in order for that dream to exist, I had to sacrifice myself. I had to believe that I was to blame, deserving of the pain I endured and that if I only behaved in the right way, I would no longer be punished.

I see now that this was never true. There was nothing I did to deserve what happened to me nor was there anything I could do to stop it. In order to accept this, I needed to accept that the man I loved and the love I imagined he had for me never existed. The love I experienced was real but the person I loved was not.

I can imagine him reading this now and harshly accusing me being the one who never loved him, going on and on about how hard he tried and how he never got anywhere because of some innate character flaw of mine. But this is all a part of the dream. When I awoke from my slumber I found no prince waiting for me, only a wall of deadly thorns. I also saw that I was not the only one dreaming, friends, therapists, people who could have helped were dreaming of the prince as well. People who become triangulated will see whatever the manipulator wants them to see.

It was not a kiss that woke me but the courage to tell my story as well as the receiving and accurate reflection of a trusted confidant. As the truth poured out, it was held up for me to see. My words were finally heard, not just by someone else but by me. For the first time I saw that I was not crazy, not defective or damaged but lost, lost in a dream, a nightmare, a maze of lies and deceit.

For the past couple of years, I have been crying, begging to be woken up from this horrible nightmare. Now that I am awake I do not wish to go back to sleep. The truth is painful but dreaming of my prince while being abused and manipulated was far worse.

If you or someone you know has been or is being abused, do not give up hope. Your/their feelings are real and important. The capacity for others to harm us is also very real and if you have to sacrifice your inner peace, love and faith in yourself to be with someone, you are being harmed. But there is a way out! It is not incumbent upon victims to “get themselves out of their own mess”; all people need and deserve love and respect at all times and victims are often looked upon with disgust and deserted by people who could be in a position to help. No matter what, you need and deserve help.

Do not give up.

There is still hope.


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