The thing about relationships which is usually difficult for me – is that you can’t control the other person. You can’t always know what that person is feeling. You can’t always understand why the person does what they do. You can’t always dictate how they react. And you can’t change their past.
A person comes with baggage and difficult times.
I was in an extremely toxic relationship for four years. It broke me. I always apologized for speaking because I didn’t have the right to speak. I didn’t have a right to my own opinion. My own time. My own body. I was managed by this person – who I used to believe had my best interest at heart. I knew he wouldn’t leave me ever. I was secure in that. I was secure in the fact that he said he loved me. Even though we had fights where cops came and walls and pictures were broken. He tore up things I made. He threw a frame at me where I had to go to the hospital. But I stayed because I knew he wouldn’t abandon me. I knew he would stay. He would tell me how much he loved me constantly. He would give me promise rings. He would talk about getting married. For a time that was enough. Then I realized how much I dreaded everything. How I was walking on eggshells. How I was living a fraction of my life that I was supposed to be living. But when I tried to break up with him in the past, it would come with threats of violence and self-harm. Every time I left, I would come back because I was too worried about the damage he was causing to the apartment or himself. But eventually it worked out when I didn’t have to worry about it – so I broke up with him.
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I remember the first night being scared. I couldn’t sleep. I thought I was scared to lose my best friend. But I soon realized that he wasn’t that good of a friend. I was scared of being alone. I was scared of being out there and only having me. I didn’t have too many close friends because I ended up being very isolated throughout the relationship. But I had a reliable friend I ended up leaning on a lot. It was really great for a while – you know minus how the whole fact I would go to a bar and cry – I was good. I even went on a few dates with a guy. I was ready to tackle graduate school.
But graduate school came with a whole new range of issues. My anxiety and depression came down on me full force. The first semester was basically me just trying my best to hold on to something solid so that I wouldn’t fall. I went to a party in this semester and didn’t really talk to anyone, but I was so excited to go. I stood there and felt so dissociative from the world around me. I was terrified of this feeling. Then it was a beautiful fall day in Vermont, and I couldn’t leave my apartment. I was becoming trapped.
When winter break came along, I was slowly improving – and ending up hanging out with a friend of a friend. We started a brief relationship during winter break. I saw him the previous summer – when I was still in my toxic relationship – and he seemed sweet and safe. He didn’t seem angry. In my mind, he was the total opposite of my previous boyfriend and kind of my safety net away from everything else. It ended up being short because he didn’t like dealing with my anxiety. It came as a shock to me. I fought it for a bit, but I was quick to let it go once I was realized nothing was going to change.
But my mind couldn’t so quickly wrap my head around it. This guy was supposed to be my safety net. The one who “saves” me. My heart was broken. My mind was broken. It put me on a bad spiral for around a month. Then I started going on a lot of first dates with guys. If I never saw them again, I didn’t really care. First dates didn’t give me anxiety because I didn’t really care what they felt about me. I went to Colorado and San Fransisco that the following summer before starting an internship at a university in Connecticut.
When I came home, I ended up going on this date with this guy. In my mind – he was going to be like every other guy – a first date only. But his texts were sweet and original. I went on the date, and after, I think I still wasn’t sure. But then I went on another date with him. And then another. And everything ended up clicking.
At first, I hid my anxiety, but it ended up coming out. I lashed out over text. I was accusatory. I had breakdowns. I had nights when I couldn’t get off the floor. He saw this. And he stayed. He ended up being different. I had anxiety, but everything else felt right. I hated myself because I could see my anxiety causing issues but I couldn’t stop it as easily as I wished. I kept questioning him, and in return, he started questioning us.
There were many times when we were almost over. Many times when I thought I would never see him again, but he stayed. He was different also because of the way he expressed himself. Never the use of words. Just actions. He stayed. He showed he cared. He always spent time with me. He brought me to meet his family and friends. We went on adventures together. He opened up my eyes to a whole new world I was hidden from for the longest time.
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My love for him quickly blossomed. But I never dare say the words. I didn’t want to scare him. I also knew he came with his own baggage. His was different. His background taught him that love doesn’t always last, and it can make people miserable. He didn’t want to be one of those miserable people. He wanted to be free of that.
So there I was. This girl who has anxiety and depression – which will never go fully away – and a man who wanted to care but was scared to invest in it. I was scared of being committed because I have a fear of abandonment. We both created this self-fulfilling prophecy. Where we were never going to work because neither of us could go fully in. I know him well. I know his quirks and his fears. I understand why he reacts the way he does. I knew we were both scared. But as soon as there’s a risk of it falling apart, I fight for it. Because even though I was taught that my emotions and instincts are usually wrong, I wanted to believe this one. I wanted to believe my gut was telling me that this – we – were something more.
I still believe it with all my heart. I don’t want to give it up because I believe in it. I thought about it before – leaving. But it never felt right. And it wasn’t because I was scared of being alone. It wasn’t because I am living in a fantasy world. It’s because nothing – even the wildest dream – ever compared to what we had. Because it was real. It was arguments. It was laughing and joking during discussions. It was peace. It was comfort. It was exciting. It was discovering. It was baggage. It was happiness. It was adventures. It was a new world.
Maybe it is because I am new at this. Normal relationships and maybe most relationships are like this, but I also can’t believe that. This was different. This was love. This was – is- something I’m not ready to give up. And I don’t know if that makes me crazy or brave. I don’t know if this makes me naive or full of heart. Maybe it’s all of it. Maybe it’s none of it. But just letting everything go – never really felt like an option I wanted to address.
So this is where I am – trying to make sense of things that don’t make any sense to me. I am here trying to grasp on to something that is real. It’s me fighting for something that I believe in – though I don’t know if it makes me a fool, an awful person, or anything else. But I don’t know what else to do.