How Your Bad Relationships Remind You That You’re Worth Better

Brittani Lepley
Brittani Lepley

A year ago, my ex-boyfriend told me that I needed to kill myself. I remember the night with all too much disgusting clarity. We had broken up during our fall quarter, but come the beginning of winter quarter, it was clear that we still liked each other. I for one, could not stay away — addicted to the toxic, poisonous cycle that we had cultivated, I believed that perhaps this was all I amounted to. That maybe the best that I could ever get from a significant other was for them to tolerate me and all the baggage that I carried.

The night began innocuously. My college hosts a big weekend every quarter, and this was my first time experiencing what we call Carnival. My friends and I wandered along frat row looking for a party that was exciting enough to stay at. We ended up in a house that wasn’t hosting any large party, but one where a number of our friends were at. Luck of course would have my ex at this party. We hadn’t talked for the past few weeks. He was rejected from an organization that I was in and had decided that if the organization was going to take someone as stupid as me, then he was clearly better than them because they couldn’t recognize his talent. To think that I heard these words and still loved him gives you an idea of how little I valued my own self-worth at this time.

We saw each other for the first time that night. I stupidly instigated a disagreement by asking him why he had punched my friend (apparently it was more of a reckless arm flail) and then irrationally told him that the way he was treating me made me feel terrible beyond belief and that I wanted to kill myself as a result. (I know that what I said was stupid and irrational and even though I was speaking metaphorically, I provoked his reply. I wasn’t in a sane mental state. But just because what I said was wrong does not justify what he did afterwards.) He was always an argumentative one; things always had to end in his favor. So in retaliation, he told me that I didn’t deserve to be here anyways and that he dared me to kill myself because I was an attention whore. He said that I didn’t have the courage to back myself up with any of these threats and that the world didn’t need me.

What happens afterwards doesn’t matter. What matters is that despite how terrible his words were, they were precisely the ones I needed to hear. You don’t spit out words like that from one night of drunkenness — the ugly inside someone that would prompt them to say words like that was always planted and rooted in there. I was just too naive to realize. So I needed to hear this. I needed to hear him say these words and I needed for him to reveal the ugliest side of him. And perhaps it is my fault for bringing out the worst in him, but at the end of the day, this was what I needed to hear to finally realize that this was not a person I wanted in my life at all.

My friends tried making him apologize when he sobered up the next day. As if an apology mattered. Even in his sober state, he stood by what he said and said that I deserved what he said because I had gotten everything too easily in life and I didn’t know what it was like to not have something I wanted. Needless to say, I’m not very fond of him right now.

But life has a funny way of doing… whatever life does. Last night, I spent two hours talking to a guy that I had just met a week ago. We had the obligatory awkward “ugh we like each other conversation but too bad distance exists because this isn’t feasible” conversation. We recounted our first impressions of each other and he told me that he couldn’t imagine why someone as nice as me couldn’t find someone at my school.

It’s been a long time since someone has said something like that to me. Even before that night, my ex wasn’t very generous with doling out compliments. He constantly told me that I was too fat and not smart enough for him. I remember asking him if I could meet his best friend but he told me that I wasn’t a ten so I wasn’t good enough. I remember us getting into a fight because I didn’t want to change my profile picture into one with him.

But this new guy is eight hours away from me. And perhaps what he said to me was the result of our honeymoon period — the beautiful innocence associated with the seeds of any new relationship. We casually toss compliments back and forth, we Skype and do nothing but look at each other in silence, this warm giggly feeling that natural endorphins induce — this is all too deceptively perfect. I have learned to grow suspicious of anything good in my life.

But still, I have learned to remind myself that I am worth loving. That I am worth being alive. One year ago I would not have imagined myself ever being able to recover from what my ex said to me. But just because one person says something, doesn’t mean they’re right. Sometimes it takes people saying all the wrong things for us to realize that we deserve what’s right. TC mark

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