the impending realities of getting out of an abusive relationship

I need to start off this post by saying that I was never physically abused but abuse is abuse even if he didn’t lay a hand on me.

The emotional and mental abuse took a toll on my future relationships as a result of my traumatic past relationship with my abuser and many people ask me, “Why didn’t you leave? Why did you let him treat you like that? Why didn’t you walk away from it? I would have.”

It’s hard to say why, but one of the reasons was because I loved him.

Or at least, I loved the facade that he put up around him to the point of no return even when his abuse became evident as our relationship progressed further down this spectrum of hatred, self-worthlessness and despair. It got to the point where I hated myself and when I tried to leave him several times, I would feel so lost because I felt like I needed him in my life.

He was wonderful to me in the first part of our relationship.

I met him just three months after my father passed away and to me, meeting this person who said the right things and did the right things felt like a blessing to me. I thought he was a gift from God because my father had been taken from me to be replaced by someone else.

Oh, how I wish I wasn’t so naive with those thoughts.

His first sign of abuse came just a month after we started dating. I should have seen it coming but I was far too deep in my emotional vulnerability and dependency on him to walk away.

He had found out that I had gotten part of my father’s inheritance money in lieu of his death and he tried to tell me what to do it with it. Three times despite my repeated sayings of “no” which he couldn’t seem to comprehend. He decided then that I was stubborn and couldn’t spend the rest of his life with me and yet, he continued to see me.

I continued to see him because I adored him and I wanted to make it work but him, he wasn’t determined to make it work so why did he continue to see me?

It was a question that lingered on for so long even after we broke up and he left Australia for home back in America.

His repeated signs of abuse came soon after. He would tell me things that would hurt me on purpose. He brought my self-esteem down to the worst and often played the victim card on me. Every time I tried to leave him, he would pretend that I was the bad person for trying to leave him and he would successfully guilt-trip me into continuing our abusive relationship.

I remember his words at one point, “I know I am a hard man to love and I’m used to people leaving me and this is no different.”

Manipulative, yes. Guilt-tripping, yes. Abusive, yes.

Of course, I tried to prove him wrong. I wanted to prove that even though he was difficult, I would still love him and he knew the kind of person I was and he exploited that.

The first time I tried to break up with him, his truth and lies came to light.

He admitted to a lot of things; things that should have made me walk away and to this day, I never understood why I came back. It might have been the feeling of emptiness or the feeling that I needed him. It might have been the emotional dependency I had on him or it might have been the foolishness.

But the first time I tried to break up with him, he admitted to a lot of things.

“When I first started dating you, you were like this project for me because you were so innocent and never had a boyfriend before. I wanted to show you what it was like to have a boyfriend.”

After a while, I caved again and contacted him again. I would still never understand why but I felt so lost without him. It might have been my need for love or my loneliness that came after my father’s death but all I wanted was love.

During the course of our relationship in the last month, I had never been made to feel so uncomfortable in my own skin, and in his presence.

He repeatedly told me things like, “If you wore certain clothes, or wore makeup a certain way, or went to the gym and got yourself a bigger bum, you could be one of those Instagram models.”

He repeatedly told me to eat healthier food but never encouraging me to. All he did was beat me down for eating unhealthy but never offer the moral support to do it. He was in short, disgusted, with my eating habits.

He was embarrassed to be with me and constantly tried to hide the fact that he hated being on my Instagram stories or posts. He hated that I introduced him to my family and hated meeting my friends, barely interacting with them when he met them.

He repeatedly talked about how he hated Australia and couldn’t wait to go home, disregarding my feelings that I would have been sad to see him leave.

After he did leave, we broke it off but I promised him that I would be friends with him because he often talked about how alone was and his lack of friends. He talked about his loneliness and suicidal thoughts but it was all a ploy for me to feel sorry about him and stick around while he did whatever he could to gain a crowd of friends back home.

When he did start to go on dates with girls, he would shove it in my face. He repeatedly told me with much arrogance how beautiful those other girls were and that he “wanted a relationship with them”. He treated me with the utmost amount of shit whilst he dated other girls and each time, they only lasted a date or two before he caught onto his shit and stopped seeing him.

Only then, did he come back crying to me.

Sometimes, he treated me like an ego-booster.

I still had these feelings for him and I would send him long paragraphs about how much he meant to me and how he seemed perfect in my eyes. He relished in them and never returned the same amount of respect for me.

He told me the most fucked up things.

He told me that I was “just another girl.”

He admitted to using me for free car rides around Australia whilst he was on his stay here and admitted to using me to make his trip more interesting while he had a shitty career in the marines with zero friends.

He admitted to using me, and said to me on the phone, “I kind of used you and you still fell in love with me? You’re like the most retarded girl I know.”

He admitted that even if we had tried to do a long-distance relationship, he would have still broken up with me.

He lied saying that all the times we ever fought, it was because he was in the military and when I said that we had never fought because of his job and started listing down actual reasons why we had fights, he pretended to be surprised that I would remember everything.

He admitted that he never truly felt any romantic connection with me.

He admitted that he stopped being nice to me after a while because he didn’t want me to fall in love but continued to see me because he didn’t want to be alone during his time here.

He told me that how he hurt me could never compare to how his ex-girlfriend before me hurt him when she cheated on him.

He told me that my makeup skills were heinous when I had only started doing it the month before.

He told me that I was a boring girlfriend who only wanted to sit and drink coffee all day long.

He told me that the reason why he couldn’t love me was because I wasn’t beautiful enough.

This was an abusive relationship on its own that took me six months to get out of after we broke up. I repeatedly went back to him because of how worthless I felt without him and it was him who made my mental health deteriorate.

You’d probably still ask me, “Why didn’t you walk away? Why would you let him treat you like that?”

He was my first boyfriend. He was my first relationship and I had no idea that this was not the sign of a healthy relationship. I thought that this was how I was supposed to be treated in all my relationships.

I thought this kind of behaviour in a relationship was normal.

That’s why I stayed.

This abusive relationship affected me to the point that I ruined many potential future relationships. I became desperate to fill this hole in my heart and instead of going slow with someone, I expected a full relationship out of them. Every time something went wrong, I automatically assumed that it was because of my physical appearance.

I was made and conditioned in a way that made me think that I was never going to be beautiful enough for any relationship with a man.

It brought my self-esteem down lower than it was before. I almost gave up on wearing makeup ever again because what he said about my makeup skills made me feel like I was walking out of the house looking like a clown. He made me feel embarrassed to be in my own skin and flesh.

Whenever I had arguments with my mother that often gave me suicidal thoughts, I wanted to talk to him about it because of my emotional dependency on him and every single time, he would heavily sigh and downplay my problems as though it was all petty talk.

Whenever I missed my father, and wanted to talk to him about it, he would heavily sigh and talk about his own friend who lost his father at the age of three which was barely old enough to have a proper relationship with his father. He would brush off my feelings like they were nothing to be crying about because “other people have gone through worse.”

Whenever something went wrong with prospective dates, he would heavily sigh and talk about himself and all the things that were wrong with me and why boys didn’t like me. He talked about his tastes and what he didn’t like about me and generalise that all men had the same tastes as him.

In the last three months of us trying to be friends before I completely cut him out, I completely hated him. We were constantly arguing over everything and I was always questioning why he did the things he did. He would make up lies and change his answers every time. We would argue some more and not talk for a week.

He came back to me crying every single time afterwards, begging me to stay in his life because of his lack of friends. He begged me to stay and yet continued to treat me like I was dirt. Every time I threatened to leave, he would promise that he would change but he never did.

Finally, I cut him out of my life.

My mental health improved significantly. I didn’t give up on makeup and my skills improved significantly. My relationships with boys didn’t get any better but I learned to let them lead.

Perhaps, the only reason why I kept letting him back into my life was because I tried to see the good in him and when he promised to change, I wanted to believe him. Fortunately, I was brave enough to see past that front and move on from the one thing that made me live an insufferable life for so many months.

The turning point in my life came to this boy. I adored him but not emotionally. He was the cutest that I had known and I wanted to spend time with him even though I didn’t see a realistic relationship with him because he was a completely different person from me.

We hung out three times and each time, I let him lead what happened.

One day, he decided that it was just wasn’t working out. He wasn’t looking for anything serious and I adored him to the point that it was getting serious for me.

And then he just told me, “It’s not working out and it happens.”

I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand how rejection could be so easy. I didn’t understand why he wasn’t telling me it was because of my appearance or something else. I didn’t understand a single bit of what happened.

I consulted my best friend for advice. I was devastated, and I asked him if he thought I was pretty because I couldn’t understand why that guy couldn’t like me and my best friend simply told me that he did think I was pretty.

And it just made me realise that maybe, things don’t work out and it happens.

It has nothing to do with my appearance or personality. Sometimes we just don’t match and things happen. Shit happens.

I moved on with my life, determined to take a break from dating because I genuinely liked him but the week after, I met him.

I had never seen a realistic future with someone before. I had never thought about marrying any man before because I just couldn’t see myself with them in the long run but him? I saw all kinds of futures and we didn’t even talk for very long.

When I first started talking to him, I didn’t like him too much. I didn’t think he was cute but maybe a bit. I didn’t think too much about him and I was careful not to catch feelings because I was afraid of what would happen if I trusted anyone too easily like how I did my abusive boyfriend.

Slowly, I started to like him.

And I knew he liked me too.

He felt like home to me. He never let me go to bed upset with him and we would always resolve our conflicts the same day they surfaced and we always went to bed adoring each other. He treated me well. He treated me the greatest, like the queen I deserved and I knew that.

I tried to do the same for him but soon, things came to light.

I was constantly arguing with him over small things and I would fight more than necessary because I was so used to fighting my abusive ex-boyfriend just to get my side of the story heard.

I refused to apologise for so many things because I was a pleaser for my ex-boyfriend and was constantly apologising to him and I refused to do that again. So I never apologised.

I said hurtful things hoping that he would change himself because that was how my ex-boyfriend made me change myself.

He was constantly saying, “Let’s look past this and move on” just so I could go to bed happy and not upset with him. He was constantly putting his pride down for me so I could win our arguments and he would relent.

He was supportive of me even in dire situations and I couldn’t do the same because I didn’t understand how support meant in relationships.

In so many ways, I couldn’t understand a healthy relationship.

In the end, things ended because of me. I couldn’t appreciate him enough and I couldn’t treat him the way he deserved.

The last time we had an argument, he told me, “I try to treat people the way they deserve like how I do you, but I know what I deserve too.”

He was right and we both knew it. I didn’t treat him the way he deserved and he had the kindest, most beautiful soul and he deserved more than what I could give him.

This is the impending reality of getting out of an abusive relationship. It had affected my relationships with other people, even with the ones who treated me well because I couldn’t comprehend a healthy relationship.

I hope that one day, I meet someone who fills his shoes. He set the standards high and I hope one day, I meet someone who fills his shoes and bigger.

a letter to you

It’s been a year without your guidance.

How did one year manage to pass so quickly without a stray of thought aligned with the days of the week? How did I turn twenty as quickly as I am about to turn twenty-one in just short of six months?

So much has happened; so, so much that it’s unexplainable.

I got my heart broken for the first time by someone real, so real that when I touched him, I felt not only his skin but his soul.

I went through the stages of losses, suicidal thoughts included and depression being one of the side effects.

I got in and out of fights with members of family, friends and colleagues because I was at the stage in life where nothing could have hurt me more than your absence.

My heart aches for your presence again. I sometimes find myself staring at pictures of you wondering how it was possible that it’s been a year now since I’ve last spoken to you. A year since I’ve last heard your voice, a year since I heard your magical laughter.

A year since I’ve seen you at all.

I think about the day I last saw you. The last thing that I ever said to you in person was “goodbye” but I didn’t mean for it to be forever. I think about how I shouldn’t have let you go up on that plane. Maybe, you should have missed the flight and skipped your much needed holiday. Maybe, we could have done something else as a family instead.

All these thoughts swirling in my mind never ceases but a year has passed and another year will go on, for many more for the rest of my life and I’ll think about how lucky I was to have known this amazing person in my life once upon a time.

My father, my best friend.

A letter to you because I can no longer speak with you so I can only address my words in hopes that one day, I can convey them to you.

experiences

We meet strangers who come and go, some who stay longer and some whom we truly connect with. These people are what makes us who we are, and they help us define the kind of person who choose to be.

Through experiences, I have met many who shaped the person I am today, and I am still being molded into a perfect form. I am nowhere near but I aim to get there one day.

Some of the people who come into our lives change us in ways that we never expect, and sometimes, we have to let go of them.

Like everyday in our lives, I met someone who made quite an impact in the short period of time he was in my life. We only knew each other for three months, and in those months, he changed my life in ways that I had never expected him to.

I fell in love for the first time.

It seems impossible to fall in love so quickly, but I know that it is love. It is not infatuation or lust, and it is real.

It was an experience of a lifetime, one that truly took much out of me. I received nothing in return, and I don’t want anything but to keep feeling this love. Loving with the expectation of being loved back is a waste of time because love is about appreciation, not possession.

We had a blissful few months together, and now, he goes home to America.

Sadness would be the best way to describe my feelings now. I cried telling him that I didn’t want him to leave no matter how much I knew he wanted to. I know that I will miss him but I know that I appreciated him enough through our time together to make it last a lifetime.

Our experiences together, the journey and adventures we undertook do not go in vain as I remember all of them perfectly like the back of my hand. I remember the memories like they happened yesterday and that is all I need to understand that I need to let him go.

Three weeks ago, I had a last date with him. It was the last day that we were going to officially be boyfriend and girlfriend, and it was blissful. It was the expected expiration date that we were waiting for. We knew that we would come to an end and we did. Oh, how we knew and we did everything we could think of in that one date to make it the best date.

Yesterday, it was the last time we saw each other and we parted goodbye as friends instead of lovers.

I still feel the lingering sadness in me. It bothers me and I want to take this pain away but I know taking the pain would mean forgetting and I want none of that. This was the best few months of my recent months and I appreciate him for doing what he did.

What did he do exactly?

Almost seven months ago, my father died unexpectedly from an accident.

It left me emotionally scarred and traumatized, and I could feel myself falling into a pit of depression that I never had before. I had wanted to give up on school, work, life and family. It was the worst few months of my life and I prayed to God to give me someone who could help me through this.

A week later, I met him.

He pulled me out of this depression stage that I was in, and he taught me to get back up on my own two feet. These experiences that he offered me made realise that there was still more to life than just the past. There was the now, and there was the future.

And I was perfectly in control of all of it.

I fell in love for the first time.

He took my breath away when he kissed me for the first time. I remember the first time he held my hand and smiled at me through the dark in the twilight. He made me smile in a way that I hadn’t for months in lieu of my father’s death. I never wanted any of it to end.

But now, we are friends and that’s the best thing that he can do for me now as I fix myself.

Learning to love myself is a step forward. Learning to take back control of my life is another. Learning to plan for my future is the next. Learning to love another would be the last.

I still love him through this breakup and I don’t hate him for telling me that he doesn’t love me back because I understand that love is relative and uncontrolled.

We saw each other for the last time yesterday. We said our forever goodbyes, smile without tears not because it’s over but because it happened. Accept that we will never be but forever remember that we were once.

My experience with him changed my life.

I fell out of potential depression, took back control of my life, laughed for the first time in months, did new things, and fell in love.

Experiences change who we are and it shapes us to be the person of our destiny.

I’m still finding my destiny, but I know that he helped me realise that I’m more than what I think I am and that my destiny is far bigger than what I thought.

I’m still finding my purpose and the universe works ways to help us find it.