I always told myself that I’d never stay in an abusive relationship. I’d hear stories and see friends stick around with douche bags who hit them and pushed them around, and they’d just make excuses, stick around, and love him. Because after all “he loves me.” I always said that’d never be me, and that I’d leave with the first sign.
That is until I woke up one day, after weeks and nights of crying myself to sleep because I loved a guy who didn’t love me back, and realized I was right in the middle of one. No, he never hit me, or told me where I could and couldn’t go. He never told me what I wasn’t allowed to wear, or who I wasn’t allowed to see. He didn’t leave bruises and cuts that he’d make me hide before I went to work. No, he wasn’t that kind of abusive. Instead he made me feel like I was only allowed to feel a certain type of way at certain times. If he loved me, then it was alright for me to love him. If he was mad, then you can guarantee that his phone was off and he was intentionally ignoring my phone calls.
I’d call and I know he saw, but he’d ignore it time and time again. Why? Because he knew I’d call back. He knew how to keep me around. He knew my strings and knew right when to pull them. Then finally, he’d answer or call back, but not to apologize or come up with an excuse of why he didn’t answer my phone call until the 7th time. He’d call to blame me. He’d say he was mad and then pull out whatever reason today held and hold it above my head. He’d blame me for calling too much, so yet again, another reason he was mad.
You know what I should have done according to my prior statement of “I’d never stay in an abusive relationship?” I should have left. I should have let him be mad, and wallow in his misery alone, but instead, I’d beg, and cry, and apologize….and believe him. I’d blame myself right along with him, because crap, I made him mad, now he might leave, and he can’t leave, so I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s my fault. I’m sorry. He never made me cut my closest friends off, he never said I couldn’t see my family, in fact he asked about them, cared about their lives and their wellbeing, but I started pushing them away on my own, because I felt unlovable. I felt like I didn’t deserve them to love me and that I didn’t deserve to love them. I felt like they didn’t care enough. No one cared enough. Why would they? If the guy who supposedly loves me doesn’t, then how could they?
I isolated myself. I eventually found myself so broken that allowing myself to feel actually feelings again was a scary thought, and that was never me. I played the game. I went through the motions. I did everything I could possibly think of to get his attention. To make him love me, but none of it worked. Because truth be told, he didn’t care. I let him slowly but surely suffocate me. I let him dictate how I should feel each day. I continued to let him not love me. I let him control me because I loved him more than anything and I wanted him more than anything, but he didn’t want me like that.
His love was like a drug. I convinced myself that sometimes you need to play the games and play with the fire until you’ve been burned enough you don’t crave it anymore. I needed to feel that racing pulse, the blinding rage, the pain in my chest that is so crippling you sometimes lie awake and cry for hours until you’ve run out of tears. That pain became something promising because I knew sooner or later, even if I’d have to feel that numbness in my chest for weeks, I knew he’d be sweet eventually and say such sweet believable lies that gave me butterflies….and that was the best high in the world. The on again off again kept me hooked.
So I stayed. Because he was a drug, and I was addicted. He’d say he loved me and wanted me, but that he couldn’t “right now.” He always made sure to say “right now.” So that was good right? Right now means later, later means someday and someday means, maybe…but then maybe means no. So I stayed. He’s basically asking me to, right? He’d push me away and then pull me right back as soon as he felt I was starting to give up hope. He’d tell me he can’t stop thinking about me. He can’t forget me. He loves me, he wants me, but then, as it never fails, he’d say “but not right now.” And it’d start all over again. As soon as he had control again, he started to push me away. He started to come up with reasons why we just “couldn’t right now.” We’d fight and I was the only one apologizing. I was apologizing for his “right now” because he was mine.
I finally figured out that I wasn’t his priority. He kept me around because he knew he didn’t have to choose me in order for me to choose him. He knew I’d always choose him. He didn’t love me, he loved that I loved him. I realized that the way he treated me wasn’t a reflection of how he actually felt about me. It wasn’t who I really was. It was a reflection of the way he saw himself. Now I will never blame him for what he’s done to me. I will never say it’s his fault, because the reality is, there are always two sides to every story. He did what he did, because I allowed him to. I convinced myself that everything was fine and that this was normal. This was just “us.” This was how we worked. Without the game, there was no me and him, and a world without me and him seemed too far out of reach.
Note to self: “Promise me you’ll always remember; you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” We can put up this front of “I’m fine and everything is perfect,” but the reality is, no one is fine all of the time, and nothing is perfect. Not even him. We can say “I would never….” All we want, but until we’ve been there, until we’ve actually felt the pain, walked the walk, and moved beyond it, we will never know what we would actually do if we were actually placed in someone else’s shoes. Watch the way you let people treat you and remember, you are worth fighting for, not fighting with. Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle. Pick yourself up, clean yourself off, and be better than how he made you feel.