I’m sorry I’m not good enough. You know I’m trying. I see you accept the help from others you say you don’t need when I offer it. I’m sorry I can’t fulfill the role you somehow thought I could, no matter how many times I told you that isn’t who I am. For once I’m standing up for myself. I though you of all people would be the one to cheer me on. You even said you wouldn’t hurt me like the others. Maybe you don’t know, hurting doesn’t just come from active bullying. It comes from a lack of caring too. I’m sorry I’m not special enough or pushy enough to warrant your love and attention. I’ll stick around because you asked me to, but I can’t share with you my life if I know I’m just going to get blank stares and blanket statements. I thought you were different. I guess my hopes about the world and the people in it were as ridiculous as everyone said before I met you.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my abuser. She was the first person I ever dated, but more and more I’m reluctant to call what we had a romantic relationship. I used to think I was in love with her. But I’m starting to think it was more of an infatuation. I was obsessed with her. With getting to know her. With being in her life.
And she took advantage of that. She used that to her advantage. She held it over my head. Even if she didn’t know what she was doing. She abused me. She refused to commit knowing I would stick around anyway. She sucked up all my emotional energy to fuel her ego. She flushed herself up on my concern and my care. And she gave me the bare minimum in return–checked in just enough to keep my energy up, touched me just enough to make me tingle. But she withheld real intimacy. She tallied up my weaknesses and methodically touched each trigger when she needed to set me off, needed to steer me a certain way. She held labels hostage. She set all the expectations knowing I had never done this before. She ridiculed my concerns, making it clear that my requests for clearer boundaries, better times, a stronger connection were unfair and selfish. She told stories of healthy relationships with the side note that those relationships were unrealistic, clingy, and gross. I kept most of my ideas for myself. I trusted her too much. I trusted that she knew where to take us. I trusted that what she said was true, that it was normal for couples to refuse to acknowledge they were together, to refrain from making long-term plans, that it was okay and healthy for her to refuse to invite me to her gatherings with her “other friends.” It was fine that we never held hands, even when we were alone.
I was not allowed to ask for more. I was not allowed to expect more. I was not allowed to feel resentment towards her restrictions. If I complained, she gaslighted me or guilted me into taking it back. I had to follow her rules. I had to stay on her track.
She could talk about the man she was in love with even while she claimed she wasn’t attracted to men. She could spend all her time with me talking about him, how perfect he was, and how much she missed him and couldn’t stop thinking about him.
If I mentioned my self harm, it was treated as trivial and unimportant. Not worth her time to discuss or try to help me. Apparently I just did it too often for her to care anymore.
I could not be weak; I had to monitor my emotions by myself and take her for her word without breaking down. I was not allowed to self-deprecate, because comforting me was just too inconvenient.
And yet I could not be strong: I couldn’t stand up for myself, I couldn’t question her, I couldn’t begin to stray away or do anything that indicated I knew I deserved better.
I had to stay exactly where she wanted me, while at the same time she berated me for not growing up, not taking care of myself, not being the person she wanted me to be.
She never said “I love you” until she was blackout drunk.
She never thanked me for staying with her the night she lost her grandmother and drank herself into a stupor.
She never apologized for making me miss the obligations I too readily gave up for her sake.
She never asked me about the scars or the lowering grades, the skipped classes, the guilt spirals, the emotional distress, the self-abuse (mental, verbal and physical).
Everything was fixed with a tight hug, a mumbled excuse, a reminder of how shitty her life was.
I clung so desperately to what little she gave me because I didn’t know anything else. I was used to being taken advantage of, abused, neglected. I was used to being consistently invalidated and mocked. My parents had been doing it to me for 20 years. When she fell into my life, it just seemed natural to let her do to me the things she wanted to do.
She never made plans; I had to deal with her last-minute texts asking me to drop everything and come to her. When it was my idea, the timing was bad, the idea was wrong, the details were illogical. When it was hers, I had no say but followed along because I thought I loved this person.
For four months I did everything she wanted, everything she asked, everything she needed, because I though that’s what I wanted, I thought, that’s what you do for the people you love.
I thought I loved her.
I never really did.
It felt like love at the time, but since then, I’ve felt what love truly is. I understand the difference now.
I was infatuated with her, obsessed with breaking down the wall she’d so viciously built up. I was sure I could get through to her when no one else could. I was intent on learning every detail of her life so I could examine and cherish it.
Since then I’ve felt real love from my friends, my chosen family, the amazing girl I dated for two and a half months, and the incredible people I’ve filled my life with since the abuse.
I thought I had no regrets. I comforted myself with the belief that everything happens for a reason.
I’m sick and tired of excusing her. I’m sick and tired of refusing to admit the regret I feel for every time I let her shove me down. I’m furious that my society had me convinced that in the long run my abuse was worth it, because everything happens for a fucking reason.
Sometimes things just happen.
And you can be angry as hell.
And that’s okay.
Because sometimes there’s no good reason for things to happen. All the lessons I leaned from my abuse, I could have learned from having loving parents and a secure support system. I could have learned it from a better social life growing up, from a few casual dating experiences I was never allowed as an adolescent. I could have learned it from so many other events.
There is no good fucking reason I had to suffer at the hands of a selfish cunt for a year and a half because society allowed me to be stupid enough to believe that I DESERVED IT AND IT HAPPENED FOR A REASON.
I want everyone to take a minute to reflect.
You don’t owe the universe anything.
Sometimes shitty things happen.
And it’s okay to be fucking angry about it.
Because there was no good reason. It just happened.
Allow yourself to feel the extent of that pain, because no matter how shitty it may feel to know you were hurt without there being a positive outcome, it’s so much better than lying to yourself and excusing the actions of your abuser to defend the idiotic idea that people getting hurt is okay.
I feel like I can never love people enough. Sometimes it physically hurts knowing I will never be able to express to certain people how very much I care about them. And I want to help everybody with everything. I love everyone. I love you just for existing. I want you to exist. I want to help you with every piece of your life. I want to know what’s going on in your day. I want to see you and smile at you so you know I care. And it’s wonderful because it can make me so hapy to know I love people so much and I am so full of love and caring. And it can be horrible because it makes it nearly impossible for me to leave the toxic people in my life.
The people that mean the most to me will never know how deeply I love and care for them, they’ll never experience the intensity of the emotions I feel on their behalf. The empathy that destroys me from the inside out when I torture myself over someone else’s pain. It consumes me. It should kill me. But instead it’s what keeps me alive. If I don’t have people to care about I feel no purpose. That’s why people are so important to me. And that’s why no one will understand. I don’t need people to keep me company and make me happy. I need people to share their lives with me and let me care about them. Let me feel this intensity when they show those special parts of themselves that not everyone knows. To let me worry for them at 4pm because that’s their appointment. To let me worry when I know they’re driving. And to smile when they make it home safe. And glow when they text me. The feeling of happiness I get when someone lets me share their lives is indescribable and incomparable.
It’s the intensity I crave. That’s why I have to work constantly in emotionally exhausting positions where my job is to love and to worry and to care. That’s why I don’t understand people who just don’t care. I feel everything. And I love that. But it eats me alive. And I can’t go much longer. But it’s what will sustain me for years and years and it’s what’s kept me going for the past 21. I dread the day no one is left for me to love. I need those people. I need that contact. That worry. Their voices. Their touch. Give me the smallest part of you so I can expand it for myself and use it to fuel my soul. I love you. To everyone out there, I love you. You exist, you are here, you deserve to be loved, and I love you.
During that awkward time we tried to be friends, my ex kept telling me I’d taught her a lot in our time together and she knew she’d taught me as well. But she never specified what it was we were supposed to have learned. I came up with this list the other day when I was feeling especially vindictive. I realize a lot of my distress stemmed from the fact that I was too afraid to speak up or share my real emotions, but there was no doubt a power play in our relationship, and she absolutely had the upper hand.
Things my Ex taught me
- It’s unnecessary and excessive to be open about a relationship
- Ignore each other in public
- Don’t talk about each other to others
- Refrain from referring to each other affectionately
- No physical contact unless we’re alone
- No couple selfies
- No profiles pics of the two of us
- Because only gooey, mushy, clingy couples do things like that
- The person with the most relationship experience has authority over the relationship
- They get to decide what’s okay
- They get to tell you how you should feel about things
- If this is your first romance, you don’t know what you’re doing, so anything you think and feel is likely wrong
- It’s okay to dwell over your ex with your new partner
- And it’s okay to constantly compare them
- It’s okay to hold your partner hostage emotionally by:
- Refusing to commit to the relationship
- Talking openly about other crushes
- Insinuating that if your partner asks for “too much” you won’t want to date them anymore
- It’s okay to exclude your romantic partner from your friend groups
- All of them
- It’s okay to deny your partner the labels they want and reject all labels rather than coming to a compromise
- And then go around using your own label without your partner’s consent
- It’s okay to refuse to admit you might be together for a while
- And normal to assume that you won’t
- It’s better to be roundabout with emotion
- If you’re upset, don’t tell your partner—wait for them to find out and ask you about it
- If you think your partner is upset, don’t ask them about it. Wait for them to tell you exactly what’s wrong up front
- If you start talking about emotions stick to the theoretical and avoid the practical
- Ignore patterns of behavior. Get hung up over the little things
- Your partner’s concerns and fears will become unimportant if you treat them like they’re not important
- It’s okay to simultaneously take advantage of and be irritated by your partner’s lack of experience
- Even though you’re more experienced than your partner, and they’ve never had sex before, and they’re really self-conscious about it, don’t be the one to bring it up or open the discussion. Wait for them to make the first move.
I was so shocked that anyone would want to spend any amount of time with me at all, let alone even entertain the idea that she might want to spend the rest of her life with me–that when she refused to commit to me, refused to commit to a long-term relationship, said it was unrealistic for me to expect that of her–or of anyone–I believed her. I believed that no one would want to be my life partner. I believed that she was totally in the right to keep her commitment hanging over my head. Emotional blackmail. I thought it was okay. Because I loved her. And I was waiting for the day she’d say she loved me back. It was worth waking up every morning afraid today would be the day she left. It was worth the emotional tug-of-war. It was worth consistently being told that I was wrong. It was worth the pain of never knowing, only guessing. At least I thought it was. I felt lucky she was giving me anything at all. I thought it was okay. Because she said it was. And I believed her. Because I loved her.