Almost two years ago I wrote a post that was absolute bullshit. I had just broken up my ex and it was an extremely emotional time. Since it’s still one of my most read and commented posts even years later I thought I’d better address a few things. I was in an extremely damaged state, having been emotionally manipulated – some would say abused – and I spent the next four months just getting over him.
|This is an outtake of a photo used in another post, and even though I don’t particularly like how I look in it I love how happy I look. I felt like it represented who I am now, healthy and happy.|
I said a lot of things about how our break up was due to circumstances. On the surface that was the case; he wanted to move abroad and we hadn’t been together long enough to really commit and make that move together. At least, that’s what we said. In reality, our relationship had been deteriorating for almost six months after he told me on a flight back from a skiing holiday that he would happily jump ship and move away if given an opportunity. Up until this point we had talked about moving abroad with words like maybe and one day, always meaning together. This shook me to my core as I struggled to deal with the fact that I meant so little to someone I loved. That night after getting home I considered leaving him, thought about calling a taxi and just running away to a friend’s house, but after an argument that lasted days he convinced me to stay, told me he loved me but couldn’t commit. I foolishly believed him.
The next six months were terrible. I was more miserable than I have ever been, trapped in a tiny flat with a man who claimed to love me and deep down I knew he didn’t. We fought constantly and I cried daily, usually in secret. I was always wrestling with the fact that I saw a future for us and he didn’t. The last straw was when we both had a week off work together and he ignored me the entire time. We had booked that week off to work on our relationship and try and fix things, but instead, he sat and worked on his Japanese for the future he was planning for himself, moving alone to Japan to pursue a PhD. I remember asking him if we could do something, anything, together, just go to the cinema, or eat a meal together where we weren’t watching TV. I was politely asked to give him space, he’d say “I’m an introvert, remember?” and I would back off, not wanting to start another argument. After seven days of sitting in a room together not speaking, I dumped him.
Once again, he begged me to stay, and I listened. I dumped him on the Monday and by Wednesday he had decided he wanted me to come to Japan with him. I was excited and began working on my Japanese, thinking that by leaving him I had scared him into realising how much he loved me and didn’t want to lose me. That Saturday, he dumped me for good.
I remember the moment vividly. I had just learnt a load of new kanji and was excited to show off how much work I had done when my phone buzzed and I read a text saying that a friend of mine had just broken up with his fiancee. Shocked, I looked up as the door opened and my ex walked back in, still wet and wrapped in a towel from the shower. He was crying, knowing what this was going to do to me. He told me he couldn’t do it anymore, framed it as him liberating me and doing me a favour. I screamed at him, called my mother and was gone in less than two hours.
It didn’t end there, with trips to retrieve things I’d left behind in which he told me loved me, held me and said he’d never forget me. This messed me up even more, believing that it was somehow all my fault for pushing to be together and commit. It was all a lie. He was lying to himself and to me the whole time. I actually think I hit the nail on the head in that first post, saying that he loved me but was never in love with me. He probably did, but he had absolutely no respect for me. It didn’t help that I had no respect for myself, constantly going out of my way to do what was best for him. He took advantage of my generally kind and giving nature, and I allowed myself to become his doormat and verbal punching bag.
In the time I was with him I wasn’t myself. My mother told me in the months after that I had lost a part of myself, the vibrancy and joy I’ve had since I was a child. She likened it to when I became trapped in an abusive friendship with a housemate back in university, and that was when I first realised that my relationship had been emotionally manipulative. He played me like a fiddle, kept me hanging on his every word and dancing to his tune. I would have done anything for him, and looking back I hate that about myself.
I spent two months crying at my Mum’s house, a month in an absolute rage after realising just how poorly I’d been treated, and a month in a weird limbo between anger and moving on. It was during this last month that I met up with an old friend who eventually became my boyfriend, and he has made my life so much better. He loves me, but more to the point he respects me like my ex never did. I couldn’t be happier and I’m grateful every day that we found each other.
What’s changed the most since then is my relationship with myself. I vowed never to let myself become such a pushover again, despite my natural tendency to be a people pleaser. I still slip into this trap, but I will never allow myself to spiral down to the depths of despair I found in those last six months of the relationship. Frankly, I deserve better.