Trigger Warning: mentions of emotional and sexual abuse and mental health challenges.
“Stop being so sensitive, you’re acting like a child” he told me. This was his
routine: If I expressed that I was uncomfortable with something he did or if I
wanted something to change, he would resort to this line. I’d lie if I said I
immediately knew something was wrong in my relationship, because I loved him.
He was everything I wanted in a boyfriend.
He was tall, seemed put together and,
most of all, gave me attention. I was a shy, skinny girl that never seemed to get
any attention from boys, so when he finally gave me the time of day, I was stoked.
We immediately started dating at the end of the summer and did long distance as
he went off to university.
Since this was my first relationship, I was head over heels in love. I thought that I
had met my future husband and that we would live happily ever after. I was
absolutely committed to making this work, as I desperately wanted to avoid doing
the whole “relationship” thing more than once. At first, it was amazing. Until it
PART 1: PUPPY LOVE
Since the relationship was long distance for a good year before I went to
university with him, I don’t think I realized that the relationship already had
cracks. I felt absolutely loved and cherished. He introduced me to his family
within one week of us starting to date, also saying that he loved me four days
after that (I know, I know).
At age 16, this was the best news I’ve ever heard! A
boy loved me! Now that this was serious, I was absolutely desperate to be a ride
or die girlfriend that would stay with him no matter what.
As I moved into my dorm in my first year of university, I started to get annoyed. I
would be bombarded with texts by him asking to hang out every single day, and if
I didn’t answer, he would meet me at my place as I came home after classes.
I thought it was just because I was stressed that his behaviour was bothering me: freshman year is the hardest, after all.
But I stayed with him, not questioning anything.
This was around the time that his games started. It was almost like he was trying
to rile me up, commenting that my cousin was hot when I showed him a picture
of her and telling me that he kept getting hit on at work even though I told him
that talking about that bothered me.
Again, I chalked it up to him “just being a guy” and believed that I would just have to keep reminding him not to do that.
With my first year of university ending, he and I decided to find an apartment to
move in together. I was gung-ho with the idea! My reasoning was that, since he
would be seeing me every day, that he would ease the clinginess a bit and let me
study and hang out with my friends. My future friends, I thought to myself as I
was packing my things. I didn’t have the opportunity to make a lot of them, since I
spent most of my time with him.
I was still a ride or die girlfriend. I managed to talk him out of suicide, help him
apply to college since he dropped out of university and helped him pack all his
things for our new apartment. I was proud of that first feat, not realizing that him
telling me that I’m the only reason he’s not killing himself was a bad thing.
PART 2: 1 YEAR IN JAIL
I’m still amazed looking back at the pictures we took together our first day in our new apartment. I look like a shell of a human: slouched, uncomfortable smile and wanting my parents to come back. I thought it was just nerves due to this being my first place, but I was so wrong.
He didn’t let me study. I thought the clinginess would ease up now that we lived together, but he seemed to almost be jealous that I was taking time to study. I was finally getting good grades again!
I would schedule my study time around him not being home since I wanted to avoid the fights. I knew that if I tried to set a boundary, he would just laugh and knock them down. He seemed to love to push my buttons, coming up behind me as I was studying to scare me, playing videos really loudly in the same room and talking to me as I was trying to concentrate.
That, I thought I could handle. What I had a hard time with, was him being
I believed that it was my job as a girlfriend to make him happy, and if that meant doing what he wants all the time, so be it.
Except, I couldn’t take it. He was rough in intimate moments, and if I told him that I was in pain, he would keep going. Either that, or he would stop, grunt in frustration, and be hostile for a few hours. Still, I was a ride or die girlfriend.
In a lot of relationships that end, it’s usually not the big things that cause it to
end, but an accumulation of little things that build up. The tipping point almost
seems like a petty thing to end the relationship on, but there’s so much more
beneath the surface.
I realized that our relationship was like a rollercoaster: the highs were really high, and the lows made my stomach sink.
Still adamant in being a ride or die girlfriend, I talked to him about moving into a bigger place, so that I could study in peace and have a place to get away when I want to be alone. He was on board with the plan, until one morning, he absolutely lost his cool on me.
He told me that I’m being spoiled and asking for too much, that we should just stay here and that I’m making him late for school. After he left for the bus, I couldn’t stop crying. I missed my own class and it finally dawned on me that things would only get worse if I stayed. So, I hatched a plan.
PART 3: ESCAPE ARTIST
He had a way of always talking himself out of things. I tried to end it with him in my first year of university (“taking a break”, as I tried to soften it), and he managed to make me feel like I was in the wrong and that I needed him. I knew that if I was to leave him, I had to come up with a plan so he’d be none the wiser.
I started off by telling him that it would be better if we each moved to different apartments the following year. That it would be closer to his school, and that we would still visit each other super often. He agreed, although he was a little suspicious. I also avoided intimacy by telling him that my doctor ordered me not to. Was it a stupid reason? Maybe. I just couldn’t handle the stress of that anymore.
The next thing I did was to let everyone know I was planning on breaking up with him. My reasoning was that, if I told people I was doing it, him trying to talk me out of it wouldn’t work. I did my research on the Internet on how to have the cleanest breakup, and had my epiphany then: he was emotionally abusive to me.
The love-bombing at the beginning of the relationship (telling me he loves me 1 week in, showering me with gifts), telling me that I’m being crazy (gaslighting), going on these rambles on topics I was uncomfortable with and not letting me get a word in (quite controlling) … it all made sense now.
I knew now more than ever that if I ever wanted to be truly happy, I had to go through with my plan.
I waited until he found another apartment to figure out an exact time to break up with him. He was moving out the first week of April, so I knew that I could do it then. However, my plans changed. He sensed a shift in me, and decided to text me about it in the middle of my family’s Easter dinner. After ignoring him and receiving more frantic texts, I made up a crappy excuse and hoped he would leave me alone for the next week until I could do it.
I went back to our apartment the following day, hoping he wouldn’t bug me about how I’d changed. That clearly didn’t happen. He confronted me as soon as I dropped my bags in the door. “What’s happening, don’t you love me anymore?” he asked me.
He asked if I wanted to break up with him, and the truth came out. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I even told him about his abusive tendencies, hoping that something in him would wake up and he’d apologize. He just laughed and told me I was making things up. For the week until he moved out, I went back to live with my parents to avoid him. I cried so many tears that week, giving up not only my boyfriend, but also my dream of a perfect relationship.
FINAL PART: REBUILDING MYSELF
I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was the abusive one. I kept telling him not to bother me, didn’t want to kiss him anymore and ignored some of his texts. Surely, I was in the wrong, right?
I had this thought process for a whole year after I ended that relationship, until I broke down one day in front of my dad.I was quickly seeing the best therapist in the world. She made me realize that I am not crazy, I was not imagining things, and that I was right when I thought he was abusive.
I learnt that abuse is not just physical, and that people try to control other people by building them up only to tear them down hard.
I gained so many strategies to avoid this happening again, gaining confidence in myself and realizing that I deserve happiness in my life. Today, I’m writing this outside, with the sun shining down on me, and I realize that I’m truly happy. I have a great group of friends, an amazing boyfriend, and teacher’s college waiting for me!
ADVICE FOR YOU, DEAR READER
You may read this and recognize people in your own life that remind you a lot about my ex-boyfriend. I am here to tell you that you do not deserve this, and happiness is waiting for you on the other side.
People like that laugh when you put up boundaries, because they take advantage of you wanting to please them. The best thing you can do for yourself is to leave.
You cannot take the sole responsibility for fixing people who want to tear you down. They do not want to be fixed, otherwise they would change.
You’re responsible for your own happiness, so take the bull by the horns and take the darn trash out!