A friend of mine is borrowing my space for the day - please make her feel welcome & give her some love. -Aly
Dear Internet,

Three years ago this month I met a guy.
(You're cringing now, aren't you?  I mean, isn't that how all sad stories start?  Girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, girl ends up heartbroken and shattered at the end.  I promise I'm working on making this a good ending, though.)
Anyway, three years ago, I met a guy.  He had just started up at the school at which I'm a teacher, and our department chair introduced us during a fire drill one day.  I didn't think much of the initial meeting -- though I do remember he had on a great tie -- until a few months later when he transferred to my department to fill a long-term substitute position.
We started chatting at lunch, bonding over a shared love for our city's sports teams and… well, I don't remember.  But I do remember that we shared our first date in April at a sports bar downtown, laughing as he beat me in tabletop checkers again and again.  We were almost inseparable from that point on, though our first kiss didn't take place until nearly three weeks later, both of us giddy on red wine and bad movies and infatuation.
There were good times.  Lazy summer weekdays spent by the pool or beach.  Apple picking and pumpkin carving and Halloween parties.  Thanksgiving and snow days and our first Christmas together.  I was so happy to have found someone that I ignored the warning signs at first.  The rudeness to my friends.  The disregard for my parents and family.  The way he pouted when I made plans for a long weekend without him.  I ignored the shame I felt when I saw how my friends felt about him, the way they reacted to his cold personality which was nothing like how he treated me in private.  I ignored the way in which he said hateful things only to take them back after I'd dissolved into tears and apologies.  I ignored the manipulation and the meanness and the spite.  I ignored how anxious and terrible he made me feel.
After a year and a half I couldn't ignore it anymore.  So I ended it.  It hurt.  It hurt so badly that, though I tried, we ended up giving it another shot only a few months later.  We had a long talk about our expectations and our wants and how things were going to be different.  Different, we said!
Things weren't different.  They were worse.  We lasted three more months.  We had a holiday season from hell and didn't speak for two weeks.  I walked away feeling sad and defeated, wondering how it was that anyone could ever possibly love me.  
To make a long story a little shorter, we began messing around after I ended a brief rebound relationship.  Without the pressures of family and friends and colleagues, we had a great time.  It was like our first summer together: baseball games on the radio and bagel brunches on Sundays and holding hands in our sleep.
"This isn't a relationship," we'd say.  "We can't work out, but we'll be with each other until we find someone we do work out with!  When we meet other people this will be over and we'll be glad we had so much fun."
It stopped being fun a few weeks ago, when he argued with me over making dinner plans with a friend and not inviting him.  The verbal abuse began again, always followed up by sweetness and charm.  I began to feel the pattern repeating itself.
I started to wonder what else is out there.  I thought about dating.  About how I want nothing more than to start a life and family with someone.  Someone who loves me.  Someone who supports me.  Someone who would never lecture me about the way I cook chicken or the naps I like to take on Thursday afternoons.
Someone who deserves me for the wonderful person I am.  The wonderful person I will be.
I ended it tonight.
At first I thought it went well.  I thought we'd both been honest and I was even a little sad to let the good part of him go.
We said goodbye, and then the text messages started.
"I'm glad I never used the ring I bought you.  I was a week away from ruining my life and asking you to marry me two Christmases ago."
"I hope one date is worth it.  I hope your panic over not being married is worth me."
"Don't ever talk to me or look at me again.  I can't stand the thought of you."
And then the thing that felt like a punch to the gut--
"How lucky.  All of those nice photos of you are saved to my phone.  I hope no one finds them!"
Let's ignore for now that I was stupid enough to send racy photos to him in the first place.  Let's instead focus on the good in this. 
(There is good.  I promise.)
He was trying to get a rise out of me by saying those things.  He wanted me to lash out.  He wanted to drag me back in to the mess of our dysfunction.  I know this.
But the best part about those things up there?  Those things that were said to me in a haze of anger and resentment?  Are things that will never be said to me again.  Because I know what I'm worth now.  I know that I'm worth more than that.  I deserve better.  I am better.
And now I'm going to prove it to myself.
Wish me luck.  I hope I don't need it.

6 Comments • Labels:  


Britt said...

You are so worth someone who treats you with love and respect. So glad you made such a hard decision to put yourself first! Internet Love from Vancouver :)

Angela said...

Oh my goodness what an awful experience for you! No body deserves that and you do deserve so much better. Good luck xx

Elley @ Up Above The World So High said...

You are DEFINITELY worth so much more than that and I'm so glad that you are able to see that. Those text messages really show his true colors for sure. I'm so sorry that you've had to go through it but you are for sure coming out stronger :) Good luck!

heidikins said...

Emotional abuse is just as real as physical abuse, and your x-boyfriend is an emotional abuser.

The trick is, it is much harder to identify than physical abuse, much harder to fight, and much harder to stay away from.

Good for you for cutting this abuser out of your life, I certainly hope you can learn how to identify those characteristics for a future partner, you deserve it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind thoughts, everyone! He's continuing to send me periodic text messages every so often (tonight's was a picture of someone else's sex marks on his shoulder), and I'm just deleting them and trying not to let them get to me.

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing your story... I wish you all the best as you separate and move onwards from this point forward.

I too have been in a relationship like that.. it ended April 2007... with time, distance, counselling, friends to does get easier.

One of my biggest fears when I ended the relationship is that I'd be alone for the rest of my life... but I came to realize that would be 100% better than a life filled with pain and HIM!

You are so worth more than that... and you aren't alone. I remember thinking I was the ONLY girl that ended up trapped in something like that!

Take each day as they come... and deleting txts not responding to phone calls is totally a good thing! (I think some phone services can block numbers--that might be something to look into!)

Best wishes from the Canadian Arctic...

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