This is unlike anything I’ve ever posted before, and quite frankly it’s tough to talk about. I want to start another ‘column’ per say regarding relationships: this would be advice, what I’ve learned, and what is and isn’t important to fixate on in relationships. I wanted to vulnerable here, and give you a chance to understand where my advice comes from on relationships. That being said, I’m going to walk you through three relationships that have impacted me most.
I’ve been in a couple of serious relationships, and I have to say that each one, regardless of the turnout, has been a learning experience. Though I can’t go back and tell myself to do things differently, I can maybe spare someone else the hurt that I experienced.
There are three relationships that I want to focus on, and these are the three I’ve deemed most influential in my life. The first, for certain purposes, I’m going to call X. It was unbelievably dysfunctional, heartbreaking, wearing, and still leaves me scarred. It was built on a foundation of hurt, lies, deceit, manipulations, jealousy, and control.
I was never allowed to be happy, I wasn’t allowed to do the things I’ve longed for, and red flags went off within the first year of dating. It wasn’t easy to live through that through my high school years, considering I was going through so much already as a teenage girl. These were the years I was supposed to be establishing a foundation for my future though, and I was too busy being torn down and reminded how little value I had.
When you’re young it’s easy to get wrapped up in flutter and the excitement of new love. But you’ve got blinders on because of it. I was so happy that someone paid attention to me. I was excited to be noticed, as anyone that age is. Almost four years went by with hurt, anger, yelling, separating, and coming back together.
When something really serious happened, I left. But gifts and long notes, messages, and voicemails would stream back in. Everyone saw how sweet he was to me. They were on his side because of it. But nothing behind the closed doors ever surfaced because I wasn’t allowed to talk about the bad: people would know then, and that wasn’t okay.
Four years went by, and he knew every password, every lock, and every secret. It seemed normal for my first relationship, because you shared everything, right? Wrong. Not in that way: not when sharing everything meant losing yourself.
Even when I called him out on the hurt I felt, it was still my fault. Somehow, it always twisted around to be my fault. Everyone was convinced I was the problem, because in public he was the sweetest star. They knew him as the perfect guy, but behind closed doors, I was still so broken because of him. I was silenced so he could flourish. Soon it became a battle between parents, and my parents thought he was the worst, his parents thought I was manipulative.
What his parents saw and thought wasn’t me being controlling, it was me defending myself. It was me saying if I can’t talk to guys, you can’t talk to girls. If you know all my passwords, then I should know yours. If I say no, you should respect my objection. Somehow, as usual, he turned my requests into manipulative requirements. But I was sick of double standards. He controlled me, and in turn, I felt the need to control and micro-manage every single aspect of my life around him. It became an extremely unhealthy obsession.
When I finally left him for good, I was a different person. It wasn’t a typical breakup though. It wasn’t the typical face to face talk. It was me saying I’m done face to face, him thinking it was a joke, and him calling me 26 times in an hour, showing up at my door, and doing it all over again. I finally had to block his number because he didn’t understand that I was serious. Again, he didn’t listen to my objections, or me at all. This was finally the end.
I was finally allowed to do the things I loved most. As cliche as it is, I cut my hair short (which I wasn’t allowed to do with him), I was allowed to talk to my best guy friends, and I geared myself up for college. The one thing I hated the most wasn’t how empty I felt after, it was losing all my best girlfriends: they were busy siding with him. . . Some of the best people in my life, thought I was the liar, and they believed him.
So, the summer before college, I missed out on a huge part of my life. I had two friends to say goodbye to, and they are still the best two friends I have ever made. They watched me through my lowest lows and my highest highs- for that I’m the most thankful. Their families also claimed me as their own, which has been such a blessing.
Though that summer was the toughest in the 21 years I’ve been alive, it showed me a lot of things. I had two life long friends who loved me through everything, it was okay to go on adventures, it was okay to laugh about silly things, it was okay to do things for myself with myself in mind, and that it was okay to leave something that hurt you.
Long story short, I was sort-of me again, at least the me that I could most remember how to be. I smiled more, I laughed a lot. I joked about stupid things. I got promoted that summer, and prepared for the long trek ahead for college. I was so caught up in the happiness I experienced being independent again, that I almost forgot how heartbroken I was. . .
The heartbreak still lingers. It is ongoing and never ending. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to accept those four years, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to sit down and forgive myself for being so stupid, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to let it all go either. I certainly know I won’t be able to turn back time and tell myself things that I know now. But, that’s alright.
Because at this very point in my life, I’ve got two very best friends, a boy who respects and loves me tremendously, and a huge support system. Most importantly, I’ve got me; I’ve got myself to lean on, and a reminder that I’m going to get through anything.
Dysfunctional relationships are more common than not. Having the two most extreme spectrums of the worst and the best relationships, it’s important to know the difference. The person I was two years ago is entirely different than the person I am today. I am so thankful for the breath of fresh air that my current relationship provides to me, but I am even more thankful for the learning process that my old relationship pushed me into.
Again, I’m not saying this to degrade X as a person. He has things to work through in order to be the best person he can be for his future wife, and I hope that he does. But I am saying this because I hope my story resonates with others.
It’s important to be treated with respect and with love. I know this seems obvious, but there is a real difference between loveable and controlling relationships. Get out of those that are controlling, because if you are fixated on a controlling relationship, how can you give a loving relationship a chance? No matter who you are, you deserve to be loved by someone wholeheartedly. This is my story, and my advice. More to come. . .