I throw around huge accusations at my ex and though never unwarranted, I cannot boast my own perfection. Most, if not all, of the following list stems from insecurities, insecurities of a predisposition or of his crafting. I’m an adult (er, legally), or at least of a maturity that I know to take responsibility for my actions. If you’re entertaining the following habits too, consider why, consider stopping, and ultimately, consider leaving. There’s a reason you’ve taken to forming unhealthy habits.
1. I went through his phone…
And e-mail, and Facebook, and anything else I could get his password to.
It started as a science and then became obsession. I was at a point so far gone that even without suspicion I was there, waking up early, taking his phone instead of mine to the bathroom. I could’ve gone through texts to his mom and gotten a high.
I have a rule now: Should I ever have the urge to search a man’s phone, the relationship is over.
There is significance in privacy, wanting some and allotting some. No matter how you pardon, no matter if you two just “don’t keep secrets from one another”, there is great likelihood that you aren’t snooping out of innocent curiosity.
Trust your partner, allow this bit of the world to be his or her own, and believe they will tell you what you need to know.
2. I was jealous of, or intruded in, his guy nights.
He needed the space – we all need space – but I could not conjure the faith or the selflessness to give him that.
This goes back to trust: I didn’t have any for him, and as soon as he walked out that door with the boys, I was inundated with bad feelings.
Oftentimes my fight or cries or batting of lashes was so intense, he’d cancel plans to join me, reluctantly, begrudgingly, in my Dexter marathon on the couch. Eventually, he felt smothered, and who could blame him? I forced my way into his time instead of letting him choose, instead of letting him miss me, instead of letting him feel the excitement of coming home to me.
So often, more often than I’d ever want to admit, I was loved and in his company out of obligation.
3. I’d guilt him for things that happened in the past.
All those fights we had over the years, you know, the ones you believed were shelved? Oh, well, you make one small slip and I am busting out the archives. Who was I torturing: him or myself?
As time would tell, both. He was exhausted of hearing it: of fighting the same battle months at a time, sometimes years at a time. I was tortured because I lacked ability to let go. You cannot move forward if baggage accumulated keeps you stagnant, living in last month’s fight.
At some point, we should’ve looked at us and said: are we fighting for us or against us? To answer: the latter. When we said, “It’s OK, I forgive you,” we should’ve meant it, but instead it was ammo, the fuel I needed to justify why I was going through his phone, why I coerced him into spending time with me and not with friends. Our relationship was founded on lies. Nobody was forgiven; we were merely disguising our weapons.
4. My interests were his interests, except they weren’t.
This started in high school when I liked soccer during the World Cup for a boy.
I handmade a jersey (I took permanent markers and scissors to a white Hanes shirt) and rooted for Italy on my couch as he rooted for Italy on his couch just so I could text him saying: “Wasn’t that a great goal?” Reality, I cannot feign enthusiasm for soccer, or many other sports while we’re on the topic.
I have this elitist pride in my iTunes, mostly because the music there makes me feel all right, and because some of those songs I actually spent money on. I am writing this wearing a John Mayer shirt and blasting Jack White.
I like good books, live concerts, pumpkin beers and excessively lazy Sundays.
Things I don’t like, but have pretended to like, whilst neglecting aforementioned things I actually like: Ohio State football, action movies, Tucker Max, beer pong, skiing and painting my nails. Much like soccer, I cannot be bothered with my nails.
I understand and support expanding horizons, developing interests, personal growth, blah blah blah, but I don’t support being, like, totally into Italian soccer when you have at best a fleeting investment in the cause. Those are called bandwagoners, and for that you should probably just become a Miami Heat fan (Burn! I’m from there; I can say that).
5. My goals were his goals, except they weren’t.
This one time I met a nice, old-fashioned boy who wanted a woman to stay at home with the kids, to vote Republican, to think life in Dallas, Texas is the dream. That may be someone else’s life, someone else’s happily ever after, but it was never mine.
He wanted six kids and a housewife in a quiet town; I wanted, like, maybe, eventually, a kid or two, or just a dog, and a career writing in New York fucking City. I waved my Carrie Bradshaw dreams goodbye at the prospect of an engagement ring and romantic security, and with that, I gave him power over me that sought no bounds.
6. I invalidated my own emotions.
I lived within this incessant fear of being called crazy, like the worst thing in life was to be equated with Britney Spears circa the umbrella incident. I mean, it’s not the best thing, but expressing emotion, vulnerability, humanity is never bad.
He would call me sensitive, see me crying on the bedroom floor and ask me to get up, stop behaving like a child, so I started crying on the bathroom floor with the shower running, finding refuge within the steam. I’d walk out like it was all OK — I was all OK — pretend this relationship wasn’t killing all the things that define me. As he slept I whispered prayers to be saved, to feel numb, to make all this go away. In dismissing my sadness I thought I’d find strength, but instead I was weak and alone in knowing.
7. I accepted much less than I deserve.
This is not a one time occurrence. This is a many, many, many, many time occurrence, a lifetime of occurrences, an excruciating amount of occurrences, which span much farther than relationships. It became habit to just accept the shit.
I am oh-so-skilled in making excuses for a man, justifying why he doesn’t call, doesn’t show effort. Men, according to my logic, are just always busy, too busy indeed to send a text asking about my day. We settle. Every day we settle for less, fearing repercussions of demanding more. What happens when you demand – expect and only accept – more? You lose what is lacking and flawed to make room for what you deserve.
8. I went back, believing no one else would love me.
A girlfriend of mine called me saying, “What if I never find someone else?” I’ve thought it – we’ve all thought it, and as I moved out of the apartment I shared with my ex and onto my mother’s living room sofa, it was an all too sobering fear. Familiar is safe. It is comfortable and not burdened with undesirable stakes. But familiar is also killing you and challenging your self-worth, but hey, there aren’t billions of other people who can maybe, perhaps?, treat you better.
It’s no secret the better part of our nation is lazy, and it is even less of a secret that dating is complicated and emotionally grueling, but why do we settle? When dreaming up my prince charming as a child, naïve of the world, unscathed by heartache, I imagined him loving me in my princess costume and appreciating my Mariah Carey collection. Where’d that little dreamer with awesome standards go?