It has taken me over a year to write about this. Make it almost two years.
We all have that one person we date who changes our life. That one person who destroys us. That one person who we never saw through because of the rose tinted glasses we were wearing.
We all have a story to tell. We all have a chapter of our lives that is so incredibly painful that the memories stay with us forever.
And this is my story.
I met him when dating was new to me. I had recently come out of an almost 5 year relationship. I had been dating for about 3 months before I met him.
He was charming, he was lovely, he was everything I wanted in a man. He opened doors, he pulled my chair out for me, he called me his girl. He gave me everything I hadn’t ever encountered.
You could call him the perfect gentleman.
But, below all that perfection. Below all that charm, and the things that made me feel enough, there was something waiting to express itself.
I didn’t notice it until we had been dating for a month or two. At first, it was little things. It was withholding how he felt about it. It was refusing to tell me if he wanted to see me again.
It was complimenting me when he upset me. It was refusing to apologise when he was in the wrong. It was me apologising for what he had done.
It turned into me saying sorry when I spoke up against the way he way he was talking to me. Telling me that now I had made him angry, and that I ruined his mood.
It soon turned into not knowing what mood he would be in. I didn’t know if he would happy, or upset, or mad at me. I stopped saying anything that may have caused an argument. I chose my words very carefully.
And, I did all that because what I felt about this man was different to anything I’d had. We were passionate, we were good together. We were going to take on the world together.
We were what I’d been searching for.
I told myself that this was him. That he was sometimes angry, and he was just an unemotional man. And I began to normalise not discussing our feelings. I began to normalise not discussing anything or our past. He wasn’t very good at that thing, but that was forgiveable.
The truth is that I still don’t know if he ever had feelings for me. He would push me away and then pull me back in. He would send me flowers one day, and then he would be making me cry the next. He would be angry at me if I was upset or having a bad week. I don’t think he cared about any of it. I don’t think he ever cared about me.
All my friends around me could see what was happening in this. For the whole year of dating him, he refused to call me his girlfriend. He refused to call me anything. He even dated someone else after telling me he wasn’t going to date anyone for the time being.
I spent a year of my life upset most of the time. I thought this was what came with dating. I thought it was normal to be upset. I thought that dating had its ups and downs, and that we were going to get through this.
I thought it was normal to beg someone to see you. I thought that if you wanted to with someone, you tried as hard as you could. I thought it was my job to save someone who couldn’t recognise that he was the problem.
One day, he told me I’m a terrible person. That has stayed etched in my mind.
He told me that my self harm was my own fault, and that I only had myself to blame when I relapsed after a year of recovery.
So why do I say all of this? Why am I reciting, what was quire frankly, a terrible year?
It took me almost two years to bring myself back from an area that was dark for me. I had to unattach myself from someone who had become my addiction.
He love bombed me, he breadcrumbed. He knew that I worshipped the ground he walked on, and he watched me slowly turn into someone who had no voice to fight back.
I felt valued by him.
I didn’t feel valued by anything else.
I say all this because it’s hard to see something like this when you are in it, but there are early warning signs. I look back now, and I see red flag after red flag.
I guess I was trying to turn those red flags into green.
I thought I was a strong woman who would spot those kind of things. I lost myself for a year and a half. I lost what I stood for.
Now, I can look back on it, and see myself reemerging from the dark clouds.
And every day I’m working on what a normal relationship looks like. I’m learning how to date again. I’m teaching myself what I’m worth.
I’m saying no.
And I’m writing this to other people out there who ever feel in the same situation, or who think it was their fault.
It never was.
It will get better.
They are not the oxygen that you need to breathe.
You will be okay.