Believe yourself. You are not crazy, no matter how many times you are told.
We met on an online dating app in February of 2016. Things were perfect in the beginning. He told me how perfect I was, how I changed his life, how I was the only good thing. He had a rough life, and he made me feel like I was saving him and helping him get back to who he “really is.” He told me his great big plans for his future, how he was moving toward them, and how he wanted me to be part of them. He was just going through some stuff right now and trying to get back on his feet. None of it was his fault. He was living in a travel trailer with his dad, getting work where he could. He was totally my type. Country boy, drove a truck, wore cowboy boots and a hat, told me stories about how he had horses and loved fishing, rodeos, and could play guitar and sing.
Things began to change when I started to notice that stories were not adding up. He told me horrible things about what his mother and sister did to him and his dad. How they were crazy and blamed he and his dad for all their problems. He couldn’t hold a job. We spent many of our “dates” driving around looking for places for him to apply. We drove my car on these occasions because he had to sell his truck to pay rent. He had a thing for taking me to car dealerships and making salespeople believe he could afford and was going to buy these brand new trucks. Our dates were often test drives and trying to talk car salesmen down on prices. Some kind of power trip I assume. He liked to brag about how his dad used to be a car salesman, so he knew how they worked.
I lived 45 minutes away. I often drove my car to him to take him to job interviews or take him lunch at work (when he worked more than 2 days before “quitting.”) He made promises he never kept. Whenever I had a problem with anything, I was the crazy one. He never said that, he never did that, why don’t I trust him? Why must I make him miserable? Why am I so controlling? He would yell at me and slam doors. I would have panic attacks and cry and he’d say he was sorry, he was working on it, please don’t leave, he loved me. I was his only good thing. So I stayed.
I stayed through beer with breakfast, texting other girls who had certain reputations right in front of me, and yelling at me over the phone threatening to kill himself because of me, then hanging up, and not answering until the morning, saying he just fell asleep. Stayed when he threw my religion in my face to force me to forgive him, when he compared me to other girls, when he told me what to wear and what to eat. I stayed through him borrowing money I had saved for college and forced sexual encounters on the stink couch of his travel trailer, with his dad only feet away, or sometimes in the same room. I sat there with him as his dad made sexual comments about me and he stayed silent.
He dangled my Christmas present in front of me like it was going to be this fantastic surprise. February came and went and in March I gave up. I didn’t ask for anything, but was constantly assured that he got me something, and I was going to love it. I cried in his truck and finally spoke my mind again once. I told him to take me to my car. He did, slammed his truck door, and sped off onto the highway. I ended up going the same direction to get home, and he followed me, driving like a mad man. Sped up, cut in front of me, slowed down, made sure I knew he was there, following right behind me. This went on for the 45 minute drive home. He called me and said, “I just want to talk to you.” No. “I’m sorry, I’m just going through a lot right now and I get so angry. I didn’t want to tell you, but I started some medication, and that should help with that. I promise I’ll do better.” Ok.
Even as I write this, I know there is so much I blocked out. Most of what I remember is the feeling I had in my gut for those 7 months. But anytime I’d try to leave him, he’d call me crying, begging me to stay, or he’d show up and hug me and point to my left ring finger and tell me one day he’d put a ring there and it would all be better.
I finally looked up emotional abuse. I knew I needed to leave for good and stop this break up, then get back together every weekend, mess I was in. If I told my mom half of what he had done, there would be no going back. So I did. And I left. Then the worst texts started coming in.
“Why did I waste money I didn’t have to get medication so that I could keep you around? You’re everything to me, please don’t leave. Remember all the good times? You promised you’d stay. You’re such a bitch. You’re not going to find anybody to take care of you the way I have. My friends were right.” On and on. For weeks. Constant back and forth, tears, but I had told my parents and I knew they would never forgive me if I went back. And that’s the only thing that kept me from going back.
The last texts I remember were, “So do you want me to return the ring?” What? “I got you a ring and I was going to propose. It had the date we met engraved on it. Should I return it? Or can we please work this out?” No. “Don’t you want to see it?” No. For the next few months, he kept texting. I blocked him. He messaged me on Facebook, blocked. Instagram, blocked. He messaged family members on Facebook in some kind of false formality, signing with his full name and using words he thought would make him sound smart. They didn’t. Somehow, he sent me another message. Again, telling me sorry, that he’s changed, I was right, his dad was controlling, his house is coming along and he’s got a new truck. He’s working on a farm and making good money now. I didn’t believe a word of it. But still, for some sick reason, I wanted to respond. I read it again and realized it’s the same bullshit it’s always been: Nothing is his fault. The world is out to get him, and he’s a hero for just surviving.
During that time I felt scared, hopeless, like I didn’t deserve anything (because he told me I didn’t), confused, ashamed to tell anyone, like I was crazy.
Less than a year ago now, I married the love of my life and the sweetest man I’ve ever met. To get over it (or mostly) I had to go talk to someone. I had to learn (and am still learning) how to trust my own mind all over again. I have to work on believing myself on small things, like if I remember a conversation right or if I imagined the whole thing. I was lucky enough to have a loving and supportive family who did everything they could to help, as well as a dad who proved that not all men are the same. If it weren’t for my dad proving this, I would never have met my sweet husband. It still takes a lot of patience from him, and I still get triggered often. He just says he loves me and I’m not crazy. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have gotten out when I did. I know that my story is nowhere near what many peoples’ are, but it affected me and still does. Sometimes I see couples in the grocery store or on tv and I think, “That could be me right now. I could be that girl who is so obviously being controlled and fooled, but she can’t see it…or doesn’t want to.”
To anyone experiencing abuse… If you’re ashamed to tell your loved ones something about your significant other, ask yourself why. I have a little sister. One of the biggest things I think of now is, what if it had been her? What would I have told her? I would have called the police at the very least on several occasions if these things were happening to her. Ask yourself: Would I let ____________’s boyfriend/girlfriend treat them this way? Would I feel good about that?
BELIEVE YOURSELF. YOU ARE NOT CRAZY, no matter how many times you’re told you are. If it doesn’t feel right, get out. They aren’t your responsibility. You are. Tell someone, and leave. And know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!