“Am I in an unhealthy relationship?”
This question sits too familiar in my thoughts and in my google search history. To be honest, I never came to an exact conclusion because I simply didn’t try or want to. Towards the end of my last relationship I began to realize just how toxic it was, but I chose to ignore it. Instead, I tried to focus on other things like my blog and personal growth. I thought if I just ignored his bad attitude, he would change. That might sounds silly or ignorant, because it was. It was wishful thinking and me not wanting to come to terms with reality. However, good things eventually came out of it. Like this very blog. Almost immediately after I started writing female-based content, I felt more confident, empowered and inspired to be my own person again.
I found myself googling “unhealthy relationships” and “am I in an abusive relationship?” too often.
The results were shocking. Too many people were experiencing the same things as I was. That’s when it hit me: I was definitely in a bad relationship. I needed to get out, but I also felt stuck and very conflicted. So I stayed. I decided to, once more, talk myself into believing that he was different. Of course, that didn’t last long. I constantly battled with my own emotions and his harmful words and actions.
There were moments when I felt so alone and worthless that I considered killing myself. I paused before writing that. I tried finding a “softer” way of explaining suicide…but there isn’t. Why sugarcoat the truth? That’s one thing I won’t ever do. I wont ever make my life seem better or worse than it is or was. I want to be as real and brutally honest as possible.
These depressing thoughts creeped in after a really bad fight. It might sound stupid, but that’s how bad it got for me. We lived together, which made it harder for me to find an escape. My family and close friends were there for me, but I was too embarrassed to say much or anything at all for that matter. I wanted people to believe we were a happy couple, but I guess I also wanted to believe that.
In this moment you don’t need to know our complete story, only the “why” of my experience. Eventually, you will know: Who, What, When, Where, How, and How Much. For now, let’s focus on “why” so you don’t repeat my mistakes.
Why did I stay in this unhealthy relationship?
I never believed he was a bad person. I never believed he meant any of the hurtful things he said, because after every argument came the most sincere apology I could have ever hoped for. Of course, this motivated me to stay longer. He would blame his temper, his excessive drinking, and even his own insecurities for his outbursts. In those moments he was real and honest, but now I see that for what it really was: manipulation. Still, I loved him more than anyone or anything.
Our irrelevant and petty fights turned into a vicious cycle. He would kiss me and gaze at me longingly as he drank the first half of the whiskey bottle. Then his tone would change and his temper would shorten. Before I knew it, he was passed out drunk and I was (once again) sweeping up another broken glass he threw out of anger–for the third time that week. He would apologize and I would forgive him. Fight and make-up, fight and make-up. I never saw how this was harming my emotional health, instead I believed we were working on strengthening our relationship. At the time, I believed staying by his side through it all was the right thing to do. I was living and loving blindly.
I concentrated on all the wrong things:
- The stories of women who stuck around long enough to see a happy ending.
- Will I regret leaving him?
- What if I never find someone as (insert all good qualities I thought he had) as him?
- What about our lease together? Who would move/stay?
- He’s done so much for me that I owe it to him to stay.
- If I leave him I would be giving up, and I can’t give up on the man I love.
- I don’t want to be that stupid girl who put up with a shitty boyfriend.
- I refuse to accept the reality of abuse.
- When he isn’t drunk or angry he’s a good guy.
- What would people say?
- How would I explain our breakup?
That was all just a load of crap.
If I would have concentrated on my own happiness and self-worth I would have left a lot sooner. It makes me angry that so many romance novels, television shows, films, metaphors, commercials, and stories underplay the gravity of these toxic and unhealthy relationships. I’m not saying that I fell into an abusive relationship because of all these things, but I’m also not saying they helped me in any way. Abuse is normalized too much in our society, and it makes me sooo fucking angry. Abuse in any form or quantity is not okay. It will never be okay. I hate that I had to learn this the hard way, but I guess someone has to in order to lead the rest. Right?
Before him I had zero tolerance for assholes. But it happened, and I never saw it coming. I only saw it leave, and the mess it left behind. This is a real issue and it could happen to anyone. I know that now, and I know being ashamed should be the last of any victim’s concerns. Abusers might blindside and fool you once, but it’s up to you to fight back.
They are the problem, not you. Not us.
I’m not writing this to be praised or pitied. I need no recognition. In fact, sharing this with people has been a challenge. Like I mentioned earlier, someone has to speak up to help others. I’m sharing my story in hopes of helping even one person realize how much they are worth. All of this has motivated me to flood my blog with helpful resources, personal stories, empowering events and functions, inspiring feministic posts and anything that will help spread awareness, equality and love. So stay tuned, because there’s a whole lot more coming.
Until next time,