As much as I would have loved my first relationship to be something out of a John Green novel, the cold hard truth is that it was the most painful experience I had in my life. As a teenager, my head was filled with love and romance after reading one too many happy endings on a young adult novel, and I was in love with the idea of love. So naturally, the excitement of having a boyfriend made me say yes to the first guy that came along. That was perhaps the worst mistake I had ever made.
Like every other first relationships, I fell too hard and too fast for him. Within a month, I was completely obsessed with him. He had me wrapped around his little finger, and he knew it. After that, I was a whirlwind of confusion and anger and depression.
The thing is, emotional abuse isn’t as easy to tell as physical abuse. Everyone knows that if your partner hits you, that’s physical abuse. No doubt about it. But when it comes to emotional abuse, things get blurry.
You start to question if you were just taking things a little too seriously, or if you were just over-thinking it. You start to wonder if your partner is actually the bad guy, if what he was doing was even wrong. But if you’re already asking yourself these things, chances are you’re emotionally abused.
It started small, with things as innocent as guilt-tripping. At first, he would guilt-trip me to get more of my time and attention. He would pretend to be pitiful and insecure, saying how he wished I would make more time for him as he did for me, or how he felt threatened by my best friend (who happened to be a guy).
So for him, I sacrificed my extra-curricular activities. I sacrificed a friendship that I truly valued. Because I wanted to prove to him that I also give and take in the relationship. But it was not enough.
As time passed, his demands became greater, and the threats came pouring in. When it came to college entrance exams, our relationship took a turn for the worst. He was feeling the pressure of his dismal grades, especially since I was faring much better than he was. Frustration and rage built up in him, then he took it all out on me.
He demanded that I do worse in school, so that in the end we would both qualify for the same schools. He demanded that I spend all my time helping him, even though I had other classes to catch up on. He demanded that I give up on my dream college and follow him to wherever his grades would lead him. Or else, suicide. I’ve lost count of the many ways he had threatened to kill himself. Jumping off a building, hanging himself in the bathroom, drinking bleach…
At the time, I thought I was the horrible person. I was the useless girlfriend who couldn’t even help her poor boyfriend, while he was the one struggling to keep the relationship (and his sanity) together.
Many arguments rose and died down the minute he threatened suicide, so my voice was always stifled in our relationship. I was scared and confused because of him, because I didn’t know if I should help him or help myself. He made it seem like an either-or, and he wanted me to pick the former. If I didn’t, that would make me “selfish” and “heartless”. I hated myself so much, I fell into mutilation and attempted suicide.
In the end, I still went to my dream college without him, and from there we drifted apart. Even months after we finally broke up, I was somehow still convinced that I was the flaw in the relationship. I told myself that I was a burden to have and that I should spare guys the pain of dating me. Those were the years that I suffered from emotional abuse.
To anyone suffering from emotional abuse, my thoughts and well-wishes go out to you. My advice would be to seek help, from your friends, family and even professionals (like your school counsellor or helplines). Even if you think it may be nothing, there’s nothing to lose from talking it out, because they want what’s best for you and can see the situation more objectively and logically that you can.
The most important person in life is not your partner, but yourself. Only you have the full responsibility to take care of yourself, to feel happy and to feel like you are worth something. Know that whatever pain and suffering that you’re feeling now will come to end, no matter how long you have to wait. I assure you: you will get through it.