This is my abuser’s necklace. I found it while clearing out my old room at my parents’ house. It was with a lot of beading and jewellery making stuff that I was sorting out, and it was there not because I made it (I could never make something this complicated) but because it was broken and I had offered to mend it. My abuser, R, really liked this necklace and wore it all the time. And I did mend it, which you can see at the front where the spike bead is missing. I couldn’t replace the bead but I reconnected the broken parts and sealed it all with clear nail polish so the whole thing wouldn’t unravel.
I don’t know why I never gave it back but I can guess. R frequently decided he was sick of the sight of me and would be as deliberately nasty as possible to drive me away. Being away from him wasn’t the relief you might think because by this point I basically had no personality of my own. I had learned to suppress it long ago out of necessity, because my only function was to be what R wanted me to be. I felt I could not function when I wasn’t with him.
Probably one of these periods of exile had happened during the mending process and then we both forgot. Very likely it was also towards the end of everything, when we were on the brink of separating. I often talk about us as if we were in a relationship, because we honestly might as well have been. That’s what it felt like.
I also found the beads from another necklace, this time one I did make for R. It was a couple of years into our friendship so I was about 14, and I had gotten the beads on a visit to the city my auntie lived in, at the other end of the country from where me and R lived. When I was away from him I was nonetheless always thinking of him, which is clear as apparently my foremost thought upon visiting a bead shop, one of my favourite things to do, was to buy special beads to make R a necklace. They were letter beads that I had chosen to spell out a phrase associated with his favourite band at the time. He liked that necklace too, and when it broke (my homemade necklaces usually did eventually) I had been supposed to be mending this one as well. I don’t know why I did not. Probably another falling out between us was involved, and then R wasn’t so into that band any more and it seemed pointless to bring it up when he had clearly forgotten about the necklace.
I was very into symbols when I was young teen. There was a 3rd and final necklace that I reminded myself of while sorting my things. I had made R and me similar necklaces out of rainbow seed beads, with larger pretty beads along the string every now and then. When, inevitably, R’s one broke at the crimps holding the beads on (I could never get those to hold firm) I took the necklace to mend it and then R decided for a while he was sick of me and that we weren’t friends any more. I should say that every time this happened, to young teen me it simultaneously felt both permanent and temporary. I don’t think young teens can really think far ahead enough to think of true permanence, like into adulthood or even older teenage years and where they will be then, but at the time I really felt R would hate me forever. At the same time, part of me knew R would one day decide he wanted me back, just turn up and act like nothing had happened at all, and be happy and cheerful and I would not want to bring the mood down by saying anything like ‘why did you treat me so badly before?’ and risk him hating me all over again. I never tried to contact him during these exile periods, never asked him what the hell was going on or what I had done. I knew that nothing was going on, that I hadn’t done anything, it was just his whims. I knew to wait it out, just to get through the day to day and wait till he wanted me back, but I would also be angry he was treating me like this. I would vent my anger towards him in my diaries (I kept a day to day diary from age 13 to something like 16), and one time I looked at the broken, rainbow necklace and decided that instead of mending it and giving it back to R, I would make the beads into a necklace that I would wear. I thought that maybe, once he inevitably took me back with no explanation for his behaviour, I could wear the necklace when we were together and draw strength from that little act of defiance, and maybe stand up for myself a bit more. I did this, and on the new necklace I put a key pendant (actually an old key from the padlock of a secret diary my sister had when she was younger), with my initial scratched on it. You see, R always called me by a nickname, which began with a different letter. I liked the nickname, we had made it up together, and yet it wasn’t long before R began to use my name as a way to communicate how he felt about my behaviour and actions. If he wanted to communicate a distance between us, or a coldness he was feeling towards me, he would start using my real name instead of the nickname. It was like the nickname was the version of me he liked and approved of, and any time I strayed away from that I would become my real name. So by putting my non-nickname initial on the key pendant, it was like I was saying to myself ‘the version of you outside of R’s influence still exists, she is real and has value’. I hoped that when I wore it, the physical reminder of my resolve would help me keep my sense of self when around R. It didn’t work, but it at least the necklace gave me some sort of strength when I made it. And the symbolism worked for me when seeing it in the future because it helped me remember this stuff about how the situation was then, and think about how great it is that I’m my own person now, after many hard years of learning how. Oh yeah, and R never asked for the necklace I had made him back, so he never knew. I guess he forgot it had existed. Don’t worry, I stopped making him jewellery at some point before I left secondary school. (Instead I spent hours making him plush toys of his favourite geeky things because I was still a long way off learning not to expend so much energy and care for someone who will never reciprocate the care you take, and far from becoming happier like you wanted becomes more demanding with every request.)
The black and red spiked necklace is more recent than the other two. R might have worn this when we were in our late teens, maybe even early 20s. I can remember him wearing it. It’s designed to be a tight choker so holding it I can’t help but think about it having touched his skin once. It creeps me out. I wanted to show it and write about it before I did this, but my plan is to throw it out, with no ceremony whatsoever.