I almost gave up my hopes and dreams to be with him…
We met through a mutual friend and we were instantly best friends. We hung out nearly every day during our friendship that soon developed into a relationship. I noticed his behavior began to change during the first year of us being together. He was always so sweet, loving, and endlessly doting on me, to the point where it was almost stifling.
It got instantly bad when I left for college (I go to college out of state so we were long distance for the entirety of our relationship). He would call me nonstop, crying and saying how much he missed having me around. He would ask me who I was texting, calling, who my friends were, and he even got a hold of all my social media account passwords.
He would get really upset when I would make plans to go out on a weekend with my friends and say things like “I thought we were going to hang out tonight?” Whenever I did decide to go out, he would get angry with me for “changing our plans” which were never really in existence. I slowly began to isolate myself in my dorm, spend 24/7 with him on the phone, skype each other every night, watch Netflix together all the time, etc. Being long distance, I wanted to do anything I could to make him feel comfortable with me being away. He had demons from a previous abusive relationship, and I wanted to make him feel comfortable that I wasn’t cheating/ talking to anyone else. But soon that desire turned into me isolating myself and not talking to anyone, male or female.
Our mutual friends stopped inviting us to events because we were always so attached to each other that, even in a group, he managed to isolate me from them. My junior year of college, I even had to go to counseling because I felt so isolated from all my friends and family because of the dedication I put into our relationship to make him feel better, even though it was destroying myself. It got to the point where I almost gave up my hopes and dreams to be with him rather than travel, go to school anywhere in the country, and do all the things I wanted to do. That’s how I knew I wanted to end things. I wanted to escape the power he had over my life, even being thousands of miles apart.
Looking back, I regret the two and a half years I seemed to have lost with us being together. I can only imagine how he may have gotten physically aggressive with me if we weren’t long distance. I’ll admit, I still love him. I still check up on him even though I know I shouldn’t. I still care about him, and I forgive him for all the months of hell he put me through. But, I would rather forgive him than linger on the pain and trauma his manipulation put me through.
When things ended, at first, I had a really hard time finding a way to put my experiences into words, especially since I had never previously conceptualized my experience as a form of domestic abuse. However, through this reflection, I feel like I made the right decision for myself. It’s not my job or my responsibility to fix my ex. I am not the cause of his traumas, demons, insecurities, etc. I feel like writing this made me realize that it’s ok to still have feelings for your abuser, but it’s not ok to let them continually hurt you over and over. I was and am a strong woman, in spite of my experiences.
One of the main things I have done to heal is picking up old hobbies that I left behind once me and my ex got together. I’m going out dancing with my friends, reading, going for walks, listening to podcasts/music, even teaching myself how to code and to speak Spanish.
To anyone experiencing abuse… Never give up on the things that are fundamental to who you are as a person. I knew when I started thinking about staying home rather than going to the best schools in the country for my PhD program, I knew that something very fundamental about me was changing in negative ways because of my relationship. I didn’t want to be that person that gave up my life for a boy who wouldn’t be equally willing to sacrifice for me.
Listen to the people in your life that love you. It’s easy to get blinded by the rose-colored glasses of your relationship and explain away all the red flags. If your family/friends are warning you, listen.
Forgive yourself. I spent so much time blaming myself and feeling guilty for all the things wrong with my ex and all the things wrong in our relationship. It’s not your fault. You have no reason to feel guilty, especially if you have done nothing wrong. Forgive yourself for any and all mistakes. Let go of the pain and hurt and blossom into the beautiful person you are meant to be.