I’ve started this post and deleted it a number of times.
I would have never thought that I am someone to submit to a cycle of emotional uproar, but I was in a cycle – is that what they call it? – of ups and downs. I remember I would run to my friends, crying for advice and asking myself how I had done wrong yet again.
A relationship is never meant to be an unequal balance of power. They say never to blame yourself for abuse but I seldom exercised my right to say no, to walk away, to break the cycle. Because it’s a cycle of good and bad. There were moments of extreme happiness, so much so that I thought I could burst from laughter. I remember sometimes, I would close my eyes and open them again to realize that I had never been so content in my life. My heart literally swelled at thoughts of the relationship.
But then I would do something – like touch someone’s shoulder for moments too long – that would provoke so much anger and annoyance. It was like I was constantly pulling a trigger to hurt myself, yet I kept making mistakes. My fault – it was my fault.
It’s okay though because things would meld and it’d be happy again. Saturday mornings at brunch or Friday night movies, it was so much fun. Unexpected surprises to make me smile. I felt like the luckiest girl on this planet.
There are so many happy memories that I can remember, but I also remember my best friend standing in the room listening to me being scolded at. She was appalled by the situation. I didn’t even realize she was being kept there to reinforce my scolding, she apologized to me after and empowered me to find my voice.
So I did. I spoke up and said that I didn’t like the way I was treated in a specific event. But I was quickly appeased by a less than sincere apology I moved on. I continued that cycle. I never even heard an”I am sorry that I hurt you”. It was always “I am sorry that you feel this way” or “I am sorry that you interpreted the situation as such”. It was always my fault.
There was one time where I had been sat down and told “Stop touching people. Don’t hug this person or anyone male. It looks bad. Just think of how other people look at you when you hug this person! I’m just looking out for you”. Or another occasion where a casual “you should stop hanging out with ____. You know with the way she dresses and acts, people are going to think she’s a slut. You don’t want to start out college associated with the wrong people you know?” It was all casual hints dropped to control my behavior. And I had listened. I tried so hard to follow all these directions – it was such a mistake.
At one point I even started to curb my diet and exercise more rigorously to appeal to his liking. He made one comment on how I should pick up a set of weights once in a while. I took it as “wow you’re so fat, lose weight”. So I did. I lost weight and toned up. I was so hungry – it was so unnecessary. I still worry about if I am too much here or there. I don’t know how to shake it.
I remember so much crying. I tried so hard to become the perfect girlfriend. So many conversations where I would outstep a boundary that I had not set to be scolded with “it’s all about perception, imagine what people think when they see you”. It was like I was a 4-year old that could not learn how to trace lines on a paper – no matter how many times I practiced, my pencil would result in a squiggle instead of a perfect figure 8. The road was too bumpy for his liking.
I wish I could say I bravely ended the cycle, that I walked away. Instead, I was pushed out, I didn’t make the cut. I was too frustrating and I had made too many errors, so I was let go of. I felt used up at the age of 18. During this, I lost sight of who I am, lost sight of what my goals are, lost sight who my friends are. I even forgot that I was smart or pretty. Everything became a concern of him. I revolved around him. Now I forget that I only will ever be the center of my own universe because there is only one world I live in – and it is my own.
If anyone tells you to do/or not do something because of their own preference, they’re violating their boundaries and that’s when you stop. Walk away. Cut ties. It’s not worth it.