You know, I thought that if I loved harder, if I sent longer and more supportive messages, if I drove through the night to reach them, I could be that bright star in the corner of their world. And in a way I suppose I was, but it wasn’t the way I hoped. I was luminous but incredibly alone, and aching for something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
I didn’t quite know how toxic relationships had begun to impede my ability to feel comfortable in anything remotely loving and supportive.
I was more familiar with being the band-aid that patched up the holes of their previous heartache, their careless mentality fuelled by alcoholism, or their mental disorder.
You see, excuses are such divine creations. Each one gave me a reason to stay, to forgive, to pretend it would slowly get better. Just as each excuse permitted him to offer me a substandard love. A love that rendered me as disposable right from the beginning. A love that wrung me out and left me depleted, uncertain of my worth as a woman, and harbouring so much shame for myself when I eventually walked away with a film role of disturbing memories to replay in my mind.
For a long time I only wrote pieces filled with hatred and shame, until I met someone new who reminded me otherwise. He made me feel like vines and budding flowers were entwining around my fingers and growing from every orifice of my body. He basked me in certain sunlights and watched me prosper from his affection.
One evening I was splitting at the seams from exhaustion – from the kind of rage that was never truly extinguished – and I began to notice how these toxic relationships were influencing the way I functioned around loving partners. I knew I had tiptoed far too lightly around the matter. But I had always reached the same conclusion: that my sympathy for his condition should outshine the damage I had endured.
After all, I felt that I was not entirely blameless. I had a choice. I sat there licking my self-inflicted wounds. I could have left. I could have done so many things differently. I could have at least thrown some eggs around his apartment before I left. I should have said what I know now.
Mental illness is not a valid excuse to be an asshole.
You shouldn’t have to be collateral damage. You are not a forgiving punching bag, an open-armed angel, a late-night option, or even the devoted best-friend that waits patiently in the romantic comedy. A mental disorder is not an excuse to be an asshole, and I wish I could scream this at the top of my lungs. You should never be made to feel you stand in the shadow of a previous lover. You deserve to be adored and you deserve to exist without a shadow of doubt that they really fucking care about you. There is only one person like you. And you are beautiful, intelligent, talented, and overflowing with the kind of love they do not deserve to expend.
If they want to hold their issues up like a shield that permits them to forget their compassion, their capacity for human decency – you need to go. You need to leave. For mental illness can make people feel and do a lot of awful things, but the excuses that come with their behavior is entirely their own.