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Silent Suffering

The emotional toll of enduring psychological abuse within a marriage and the long-term effects on one’s mental health

By Christabel Appiah kusiPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Silent Suffering
Photo by Louis Galvez on Unsplash

Deborah stared into the lukewarm tea, the steam a wispy reminder of a life that once felt vibrant. Ten years of marriage to Jay had muted the world around her, leaving her in a landscape of emotional grayscale.

Theirs had been a passionate union, a whirlwind of creative energy and shared dreams. Jay had championed her artistic spirit, his voice had a melody that resonated with her aspirations. However, the shift was insidious, a slow erosion disguised as concern. Her bold paintings, once the centrepiece of their home, were deemed "too loud" for their supposedly sophisticated new aesthetic. Social gatherings, her source of connection and inspiration, were dismissed as "distractions." His subtle barbs, veiled as playful teasing, chipped away at her confidence.

The isolation became suffocating. Friendships drifted apart, replaced by a suffocating silence within the walls of their home. Deborah, once a social butterfly, found herself dreading phone calls, her voice a rusty echo. Her art, the very essence of her being, became a forbidden fruit. Jay wasn't overtly abusive. There were no physical assaults, no raised voices. Instead, he employed a relentless stream of microaggressions, complementing them with hidden stings. "That dress? It hides your figure, darling." "That promotion? You probably just got lucky." Every accomplishment was met with veiled criticism, eroding her self-esteem and leaving her questioning her own worth.

Sleep became her refuge. In the quiet darkness, she could be anyone and dream any dream. But morning always came, shattering the fragile fragments of hope with its harsh reality. The world outside moved on, a vibrant tableau, while Deborah remained trapped in a sepia-toned reality.

The exhaustion seeped into her creativity. Her once-expressive paintings became muted reflections of her inner turmoil. She'd stand before the canvas, the brush heavy in her hand, but the colours refused to flow. The vibrant spirit and the raw emotion were all stolen by the silent thief in her life.

Guilt gnawed at her. Was it her? Was she failing to be the perfect wife, the perfect muse? She doubled down on her efforts, becoming invisible in her own life, catering to his every whim and searching desperately for a flicker of approval.

One day, while cleaning the attic, a dusty box tumbled down, revealing a forgotten piece of her past-her old paintings. Tears blurred her vision as she saw the colours-a vibrant testament to the life she'd lost. A spark, a tiny ember of defiance, flickered to life within her.

That night, after Jay slept, Deborah crept out to the shed. The moonlight cast an ethereal glow, and the scent of damp earth filled the air. There, amidst forgotten tools, she unearthed her art supplies. The dust fell like a shroud around her as she grasped a worn brush, its weight a familiar yet foreign sensation.

Hesitantly, she dipped the brush in paint, the colours were startlingly vivid against the pale moonlight. A single stroke on the canvas, then another. Slowly and tentatively, she began to paint. It wasn't perfect, far from it. Yet, with each stroke, a sliver of the old Deborah chipped away at the shell he'd built around her.

The painting became her sanctuary, a silent rebellion against the oppressive silence. The colours were a language only she understood, a desperate plea for the life she'd lost. As the days turned into weeks, the paintings grew bolder, the once muted palette was replaced with the vibrant hues of her soul.

One day, Jay found her. He stood in the doorway, his face a mask of conflicting emotions. Deborah flinched, ready for another critique and another blow to her fragile resilience. But this time, silence stretched between them, heavy with unspoken truths.

He finally spoke, his voice hoarse. "They're… beautiful," he said, the word a key unlocking a dam of emotions within her. Tears streamed down her face, a mixture of relief and grief.

The path to healing was arduous. Therapy sessions were punctuated by tearful breakdowns and moments of raw vulnerability. It wouldn't be a quick fix. The scars carved by his words would remain, a constant reminder of the battle she'd fought.

But as she picked up her brush each day, the colours became brighter, a testament to her resilience. Each stroke chipped away at the emotional abuse, reclaiming her identity and painting a future filled with the vibrant hues of self-discovery.

NOTE: Enduring psychological abuse in a marriage can be incredibly damaging to a person's mental health, both in the short and long term. It can chip away at self-esteem, leaving a person feeling worthless and questioning their own sanity. This emotional toll can manifest in various ways, including depression, anxiety, and even physical ailments. If you are experiencing psychological abuse in your marriage, it is important to seek help and support. Remember, you are not alone and there are resources available to help you heal.


About the Creator

Christabel Appiah kusi

I am forever a student. The world, my greatest teacher, and I am constantly learning, evolving, pushing the boundaries of my creativity. This path is paved with both triumph and doubt, but the fire within keeps me chasing the next sunrise.

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Comments (3)

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  • Flamance @ lit.about a month ago

    Good job

  • ebenezer assanabout a month ago

    Nice piece of work there, your work advocates for the voiceless. Domestic violence in any form must desist...

  • Alex H Mittelman about a month ago

    Well written! Great work!

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