Looking back and reflecting on one of my more serious relationships, I find myself astonished at how I reacted, treated people, and what I accepted from others during my early twenties.
It’s been many years since my ex-boyfriend, and I broke up, but there are days I feel foolish for sticking around for as long as I did. By not walking away sooner, I allowed us both to feel trapped in what was more of a situationalship that was miserable for the two of us long after it was a funfilled and loving bond. If I had the self-esteem and the self-respect I have now, there’s no way I would have allowed myself to be or feel stuck in an unhealthy relationship for all those 5+ years.
Knowing what I know now, I realize it was unfair for him too that I hung on trying so hard to force something to work that was not meant to be.
We were young and dumb.
We met in the winter of 2006 but didn’t spend any one-on-one time together until the spring of the following year. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a beautiful sunny day, I was wearing white sweat pants, and we were hanging out at our mutual friend’s house one quiet spring afternoon. I was helping our friend clean the house after a party the night before. Jay lets call him, asked if anyone wanted to run to the store with him to get supplies for a cookout later. “I’ll go!” I said, and well, the rest is history. Trust me, the short version of this story is better for us all.
I suppose my current reflection is a moment of guilt for who I remember was once a sweet boy. Sometimes I wonder if I created a monster. I recall so many violent and outlandish nights that could have been avoided in some way or another. Was his violence my fault? Did I cause him to be that way? Some days I feel so bad for the idea that I could have been someone who made another person feel so much pain to act out with such rage. It hurts my heart when I think about him spiraling.
Jealousy was one of the most significant issues in that relationship. The desire and a keen sense of control were overbearing. I became very sensitive to that type of behavior since the night he sent my friend to the hospital needing dental work and staples in his head due to the horrible injuries inflicted by Jay.
I look over my shoulder still to this day because of the anxiety I feel everywhere I go. After experiencing what it’s like to have someone follow you around for years, appear in random dark corners of restaurants you’re at, be behind you at a traffic light in a different car, see his shadow pass across your backyard at night when you’re parents are out of town, who’s face appeared at outside of your best friend’s living room window, and then to witness a horrendous and violently bloody act one chilly November night, my suspicion leads me to believe anyone would be a frazzled and proceed with caution when entering any kind of relationship with someone.
He hated that I loved social media so much and well, fast forward I am a professional marketer making great money doing what I love as a Social Media Manager.
It drives me mad when people ask why I am still single or not married. Why does my marital status matter to anyone?
The truth is for the last almost ten years I feel like I’ve wanted to make up for lost time and enjoy my life, be around people who make me happy, go places I want to go, do what I want to do, excel in my career (a career that I choose and love), learn as much as I can, write whatever I want to write, and answer to no one. I want to be myself without anyone judging or controlling me.
I remember a time where I was in love, or what I thought at the time was love, and I was young, and my gosh, I was so dumb. I remember the person I was back then. I had gotten out of a rather abusive relationship and WHOOPS there I went getting into another one, only this time I didn’t know how bad things were going to get.
In the beginning, as it usually is, things were excellent, and we were quite happy. After the first year, I really should of let go. He would break up with me randomly. On my lunch break, on vacation, after a long day at work, and before having dinner with his parents. I would send him long texts to try and convince him we could make things work, and I could make him happy because when he would dump me, he would always say that he’s not happy. I didn’t want to fail. I wanted to prove it to myself more than anything that I could make this relationship work, and we would be fine. I would give him what he wanted and try to be better for him, whatever the eff that meant.
The point is that no one should have to experience this kind of roller coaster. You may not realize in the moment or during that phase of your life, but the heartache, the trauma, and the memories, they stick with you, and it’s important not to allow yourself to get caught up in things when they don’t feel right. If something feels off, then walk away. Get out of the mess you’re in before it gets worse. Sometimes we learn the hard way, but don’t put yourself through something to prove a point.
What I thought was love way back when turned out to be a big lesson in life that reminds me each day to put myself first; to take care of me and fill up my take before I even dare to help anyone else.
A couple movies that remind me of this time:
Silver lining Playbook