Relational Health

Getting Out of An Abusive Relationship


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Part 1: Meeting – the cycle begins

I met him this time last year. The connection was instant. Things moved  quickly for a couple of weeks, and then he disappeared.

**Let me clarify what I mean by ‘disappeared’ – in this story, disappearing involves a complete lack of initiation on his part to see me (opposite of his frequent initiating when he is ‘around’) and, sometimes, a complete ignoring of me by phone and/or in person.**

He came back a couple weeks later, only to disappear again. Then he got a girlfriend. Then he came back around again for a bit, only to disappear again (later I would find out this was because he realized hanging out with me wasn’t ‘fair’ to his girlfriend based on his feelings towards me). I cut ties after that and tried to move on. About a month later (having broken up with his girlfriend just days earlier) he came up to me in the mall and he was back again.

Things didn’t work out with her, He told me, all they did was fight – she was crazy, she was psychotic – he has a new outlook on life, he’s going to be more social, he wants to spend time with me… And, like usual, he was everywhere all at once and things moved at a rapid pace, and then (you guessed it), he disappeared – but only after he blamed me for the feelings I’d developed towards him and my hurt over the way he’d treated me, and then stormed out of Starbucks, leaving me sitting at the table alone.

His exact words: “The way my actions make you feel is your fault and not mine.”


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I moved on. This time it would take two months before he would come back.

He messaged me out-of-the-blue –  he was thinking of me and wanted to hang out – I said yes. He wondered if we could be friends again, he defended his actions and got angry if I questioned them. I still said yes – only this time I set boundaries, mainly that it would not go beyond ‘just friends’ in romantic terms OR physical terms.

He hung around for awhile, then I wouldn’t hear from him. Then we’d go on a road trip and get really close again, then I wouldn’t hear from him…this pattern persisted all summer until one time he stood me up three times in a row. After this I was done for good. I didn’t say it, but I knew it.

At least I thought so…

Two months later he came back around. He felt bad about some of the ways he perceived situations and people and some of the ideas he ‘d had about life. And he wanted to spend time with me. (note: there was no actual apology). This time, however, he had bigger intentions – he expressed his feelings and pursued something far beyond friendship. Things moved rapidly, and for a couple weeks I was on Cloud 9, and then (now sounding like a broken record) he disappeared. And the ironic thing – I was surprised.

Part 2: Walking away

I decided I was done. Clearly he had issues he had to sort out and the best thing would be to leave him to sort them out and then he could come back (as he always does). In the past I’d never actually told him when I was walking away, but this time I decided I should – partly because I knew he’d come back and ask to be friends and I knew that wasn’t something I could do, and partly because I hoped that actually seeing me walk away may just shake him up enough to force him to deal with his issues – I was, after all, THE GIRL – the girl he always came back for.

I’d decided if (like in the past) he got angry with me, this time I would be the one to walk away and leave him sitting alone. I had my keys in my hand and my sunglasses on and yet he still  beat me to it. I was mid-sentence, and he got up and left – unwilling to grant me the satisfaction of walking away; he needed that power.

I walked in with a clear plan – I had decided what I want and how I deserve to be treated and I was going to break this cycle. I felt so empowered.

I walked out thinking it was all my fault and feeling broken and confused.

Part 3: Discovering the truth

I met with a friend who knew more than I could ever know about the entire situation. This is when I found out that I am, in fact, not special. He has been ‘going back’ to multiple girls for years now. The cycle he’s used with me over the past year, he’s done with multiple girls for an even longer amount of time. And the girls always overlap – even now, when I sat down to talk with him, he told me he was ‘over it’ and besides, he’d met somebody else.

It isn’t about the girls with him; it’s about a need to not be alone and a need to ‘get his fix’ and then walk away, not in a ‘womanizer’ sense, but in a desperately lonely and lost sense.

I knew my friend was telling the truth.

I have been sucked into a vortex of evil, and I need to run.

But I can’t.

Part 4: Knowing the truth, and not caring

They say hindsight is 20/20. And now as I reflect back on the last year I begin to realize the realities of my relationship with Him. As I was talking to my friend, arguing that surely He wasn’t that bad, after all, this was the guy who calls me ‘champ’! My friend replied, “what else does he call you?” I said I wasn’t sure what he meant. My friend started a list: “He called you controlling, right? and manipulative? and he said f*ck you?” I nodded. “And what else?” my friend asked. I replied: “obsessive, neurotic, OCD, crazy, a self-help book…”

I began realizing that not only had He said all these things to me consistently for the last year (whether disguised as playful ‘mocking’ or ‘in your best interest’ or in the context of an argument), but he also never said anything to build me up.

I reflected back on every argument that I’d had with Him or conversation after a fight – and each time I left believing  it was my fault and that He had done nothing wrong. Every. Single. Time.

He is a master of twisting things to the point where I don’t know my left from my right.

As the manipulative abuse I’ve been victim to is becoming so clear to me, and all the things I’d never noticed are becoming evident, I have come to the most frightening of realizations – I don’t care. I just want him back.

This reality petrifies me. Not only because I now realize what He is capable of (which goes far beyond what I’ve been able to describe in this post) but also because I know he is coming back. He always does. And I can’t say no.

Part 5: A shocking comparison

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to friends the last few days. I sit quietly as they tell me I need to run, I need to walk away, change my number, block Him from Facebook – do whatever it takes. And I know they are right. But I also know that if he came around tomorrow, I’d say yes.

“I don’t want to say no,” I told a friend, “but I want to want to say no.”

And then it hit me, the last time I used that language was a year and a half ago, when I sat across from friends and family, begging me to stop starving myself and I replied “I don’t want to stop, but I want to want to stop.”

I never thought I would use that language again, but, more importantly, I never thought THAT would manifest itself in the form of a guy.

Part 6: Realizing it’s not about the guy

It’s not about the guy. In the same way that a year and a half ago it wasn’t about the food. I am addicted (for lack of a better word) to this cycle, to being treated this way. And in the same way that scheduling in meals wouldn’t have solved the core issue back then, walking away from the guy won’t stop the pattern now. Because He will always come back, and even if He doesn’t (or I say no to Him) there will always be another guy who is ready to treat me this way.

I need to sort out the issue as to why I want to stay and not run, why I still need validation from him. Then, and only then, will I find the strength to say NO. Not just to Him, but to any others who come my way.

Part 7: Some final thoughts – I understand

I understand why you want to stay in this. I understand why you want to stay with him, or why you can’t run away from him. You are not alone. And you are not stupid. When someone hits you and leaves you with a bruise, or cheats on you, or blatantly lies and gets found out, it is black & white. But when someone feeds you lies consistently over a period of time, it’s impossible to separate the lies from the truth.

And this is why I am so afraid of him coming back – because how will I be able to see the truth? Even with blood on his hands he still lied and I still believed him. But what scares me more than him coming back, is if he doesn’t come back. Because somehow I still need that validation. And it’s stupid.

But that doesn’t mean I am stupid.

As Rihanna says in her song “Stupid in Love” (regarding her abusive relationship with Chris Brown) “This is stupid, I’m not stupid.” – THIS – the situation – is stupid, but I don’t have to label myself as stupid.

I need to realize that I cannot help him and I cannot save him. I can love him, and I can forgive him – but that has to be done at a distance. And by a distance I don’t mean still texting, still connecting on Facebook, I mean a complete, no-contact distance.

And I feel like I am dooming him to his brokenness. Like I am abandoning him. But I’m not. And I need to keep my distance because people who are hurting that deeply love to see others hurt. It’s a fact.

You don’t walk up to a wounded animal – why? Because it will attack.

I walked up to someone who was wounded and tried to pet Him and I got bit – over and over again.

It’s time to walk away.

And I am making the decision, just as I did a year and a half ago, that I will not back down until I am over this. Until I am fully prepared to say no to Him and any other guy who will put me in this situation.

And just like recovery, it will be a process – it won’t happen overnight, but I know I can do it, and you can too. I hope you will try.

 

Lauren is the Founder and Editor of Libero. She started Libero in April 2010, when she shared her story about her struggles with an eating disorder and depression. Now Lauren uses her writing and videos to advocate mental health and body positivity. In her spare time, she enjoys makeup artistry, playing Nintendo, and taking selfies with her furbaby, Zoey.

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