How An Emotionally Abusive Relationship Can Result In PTSD


August 9, 2017, one year ago, was the worst day of my life.

I’ve danced around what happened, told bits and pieces here and there, but if I had known one year later I was still struggling with the aftermath, I would have been devastated.

I thought I was in love. I was with someone that talked to me about marriage, even looked at several engagement rings with me, named our kids, and we were about to move in together. I had my stuff starting to accumulate at his place. He cleaned out a drawer for me. He asked me if I practiced writing my name with his last name. He called me his wife. I was happy.

There were several warning signs of his behavior, but I shrugged them off. He questioned who I texted. He made me stop talking to several of my male friends because he “thought” they were flirting with me. Even if they were, I was straightforward. I never cheated, in any way, not even flirting. But I didn’t want to fight.

He broke up with me twice during the time we were together. Both times he said he missed me after a couple of days and we resumed. I should have made more of a big deal about it, but I was just happy to be back with him. What he said to me always brought me back: you’re my soulmate and the person I want to be with forever. He wrote that in a card on our anniversary, only two months before we broke up.

We even went to each other’s therapists in order to be closer. When I went to his, his therapist opened up by saying that me having depression affects our relationship. Okay, I get it, but I have always been transparent about having it. His therapist then said, “How do you think it makes him feel knowing he is working on himself but you are essentially… doing nothing?” I snapped at him. I told him I have been in and out of therapy since I was 6, I was on medication for several years, I’ve even been hospitalized. My ex had never told his therapist that. At that moment I should have known he was twisting the truth to play victim in his sessions. But he played it out like his therapist was just rude and my ex said he didn’t want to see him again.

When we went to my therapist, he told a story about a silly fight we had in which I was looking for a piece of jewelry and running late for work. I was stressed and projecting it on him, so he stopped helping me look because I was giving him anxiety running around looking for it. He told my therapist I was irrational. He didn’t know I had already told my therapist that argument we had, and she knew what he had left out of the story – he ended it by screaming at me to “get out of my f****** house.” When she asked why he did that in response to such a silly argument, and why he left it out of the story, he said it wasn’t the point of the story and irrelevant. At that moment it confirmed that he twists the truth to play victim.

Shortly after that happened, I confronted him about how I felt like my feelings in this relationship were being belittled. I was calm in approaching him, but I mentioned how he excludes that he also makes mistakes and it prevents us both from growing as individuals. He said that I was wrong. I told him that this is exactly what I mean. He still told me I was wrong. I ended up slipping into a depressive episode. Rather than focus on getting out of it, I was more worried if I pushed him away by opening up about my feelings. He told me my depression was emotionally abusing him. He was labeling me emotionally abusive so I didn’t recognize it was him that was actually abusive. In a relationship, you should never be worried about saying how you feel.

We met a couple of days later after we cooled off. I knew we still loved each other deeply, but I also knew we needed space. We talked in his car for about three hours. We were laughing, he was calling me his wife, his soulmate, saying he loved me. He said he was sorry about what happened, and I said sorry too (although, I shouldn’t have apologized.) He then begged me to spend the night at his apartment. I told him I didn’t think it was a good idea. He kept telling me he wanted me to, and it would mean a lot to him. Eventually, I caved. This was August 8th, 2017.

We cuddled all night. We were watching a show about children, and he told me he wants kids with me one day. He held me all night. We talked like we had the majority of our relationship: with love. He had my heart again.

The next day I had an appointment to go to and he was still in bed, awake. He said we would meet up later because we were planning on going to grad school together and he was going to help me apply. I told him I would see him later. He gave me a kiss and said he loved me… I never saw him again.

Several hours had gone by and my appointment was finished, so I looked at my phone. He had finally texted me, but it said he changed his mind and wanted to break up, he was blocking my number so he wouldn’t be back and forth, and that he would send my stuff that he told me to keep at his place to my parents’ house. I called. I texted. But it was too late.

He wouldn’t talk to me. I tried reaching out to him in a million different ways. I was so broken. I was a mess. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I was crying all of the time. I had panic attacks while driving. My dad didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know much about my relationship with him, but I gave my dad the letters my ex wrote me on our anniversary, birthdays, or just because… and my dad started crying. He said, “I didn’t understand, but now I do.”

I had to see my therapist three times a week so she could help. I didn’t work until late November. I was diagnosed with PTSD from an emotionally abusive relationship. A year later, today, I still have it. I’m currently in an insomnia period. I get vivid dreams that relive the day he broke up with me and it sets me back by weeks, sometimes months. I still get panic attacks. There are days in which I don’t eat. There are songs I hear and they make me cry.

The closest I had gotten to speaking with my ex was through his sister about a week after the breakup – but the conversation was so twisted it didn’t get anywhere. She told me that I knew this was coming and that my ex and I weren’t that serious anyway. It was just another piece of evidence that my ex was playing his friends and family, too. He hadn’t told her how he spoke to me. He didn’t even tell her about how he begged me to stay over the night before he broke my heart. She even blamed me for my ex not going back to his therapist – even though my ex said he stopped seeing him because of how rude he was to me. There were so many twisted and false accounts of what happened, I could tell she was just regurgitating his lies. It was a useless conversation. Then one day, after several weeks of my mind eating itself after the breakup, my ex “allowed” me to call him. I had so many things I wanted to ask him. I wanted to ask him how he could leave me like that and let me sit in the pain by myself. I wanted to ask him how he could reel me in so closely the night before he did that to me, only to be abusive and take it away. I wanted to tell him that I knew I wasn’t the abusive one. I wanted to tell him he was manipulative and a liar. But when I called him, he said the conversation will only be several minutes and if I talk about anything that upsets him he would hang up. So basically, it was a conversation for him, and not for me. It was the perfect representation of how our entire relationship went: all about him.

Now, I can’t date effectively. I push people away. I don’t feel emotions with a lot of things. Some people have been more understanding than others, but I just had to cut out the people that weren’t, including one of my best friends that started hanging out with my ex out of the blue. I miss her every day, but PTSD is harder to deal with when the trigger is right there and friends don’t understand the severity or seriousness of it. And I knew he was lying to her about what happened. It wasn’t worth my energy. She wasn’t a true friend.

I will never be the same again. I miss who I was every day. Not a day has gone by where I don’t hurt my mind thinking about it. I used to be able to feel love, to feel anything. I don’t anymore. I’m not being dramatic. I’m just telling my story.

I don’t believe in talking about other people, but I also believe in being open, and the actions of one individual negatively impacted the rest of my life. If you don’t know what someone is going through, just assume you should treat them okay. If you hear something bad about someone, maybe try to understand why someone feels that way. I believe that people are naturally good people, but selfishness in our own ego causes us to bend the truth. It’s narcissistic.

If anything in this reminds you of your relationship, get out. Get healthy closure. Don’t end it with a text – a coward does that, someone that doesn’t want to own up to their own actions. It ends things on one side and not on the other.

And now, it has been one year since the worst day of my life. Having PTSD is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. I feel so numb. Even worse is feeling like I have to convince my friends and family about the validity of my diagnosis. When people hear “PTSD,” they think of war or horrible accidents. They don’t think of emotional abuse. They don’t think of what I went through. But it happens. I’m one of those few people that would say it’s better to have never loved at all than to have loved and lost. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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