I never realized how much one person can break you so easily. In most relationships throughout my life, I’ve always been the one to end them and as time wore on, I was able to brush it off more easily. Until this one time.
Relationship abuse is a tricky subject because most people don’t even realize they’re being abused. But remember in health class when your jock gym teacher started talking about the difference between emotional and physical abuse and you probably still associated abuse with the physical type? Well, to be honest, the emotional abuse has left me more damaged than the physical abuse because at least I knew it was wrong. I could fight back or know instantly that I needed to leave. I was trapped in a cycle in which I was being pushed to be as vulnerable as I could be and being assured that I could be vulnerable, that they could be trusted. I was caught in a dream world where I was imagining things and putting this person up on a pedestal, thinking that they were someone they weren’t. As time passed, they slowly started pushing me away. They didn’t want to hear about how I was feeling or how my day went when they had pushed me so far to be vulnerable around them. In a way, I was betrayed. Suddenly, I felt like I was being punished for having emotions. They would shut down, they wouldn’t answer my texts or just sit in silence and do nothing while I’d be depressed, crying, and hiding in my bed while in the past they would tell me to let it out and that they would be there to comfort me. And they did for a while until they slowly started withdrawing from me. They didn’t understand or they didn’t care. I still don’t know which.
I should have known they stopped caring. One night, I hit rock bottom while I was with them. I started binge drinking to make myself feel better but it only made it worse. They shut down. In my drunken blur, I took a handful of Xanax. Realizing what I had done, I told them what I did and they did nothing. I remember lying on the couch wondering if I was dying and they sat beside me and said nothing. We sat in silence. It wasn’t until I texted a friend and told him what I had done that an ambulance was sent for me and I was hospitalized for 3 days because my blood pressure had dropped low enough that I was at risk of going into a coma. They visited me in the hospital. Brought me food and books and comforted me as I wallowed in my self pity. They played the boyfriend role for those few days. I told them I loved them and I thanked them for being there for me and they told me they loved me too. I later found out they only said that because they thought it was what I needed to hear. In those moments, I thought they actually cared. After I recovered, we went back to our normal routine as if nothing had ever happened.
I was lead to believe so many things that turned out to be untrue. I was more alone with them than being by myself. They said that they still cared, but I couldn’t see any hint of that being true. And when it ended, they denied us ever being a thing despite that we were more than friends for over 7 months.
I’ve suddenly come to realize all the lies I put myself through. I trusted them and let myself be vulnerable only to have that backfire and be punished for being vulnerable in the first place. Is that why I took the pills and landed myself in the hospital? My drunk self must have known something that I didn’t. The truth was right there in front of me and I refused to believe it because I have a bad habit of always trying to find the good in people. But sometimes, you have to realize that there are some truly awful people out there who maybe don’t mean to hurt you, but leave you with scars that won’t fade. You can’t even look them in the eye in passing or be around them without feeling like your throat is going to close up and you spend the rest of your work shift in the back hallway trying to not have a panic attack, pushing away all the PTSD-esque flashbacks and trying to keep yourself busy until you’re allowed to leave. I still have nightmares. I still have trouble being intimate with anyone.
All those times I spent trying to defend them was just a waste of time. I was lying to myself and to everyone else. And the worst part is that I’m more angry with myself than I am with them. Angry that I let myself be so vulnerable. Angry that I trusted them. Angry that I let myself push through it believing it was going to get better and they would come back to their old ways when they sent me surprise flowers and took me to the aquarium.
Because of all of this, I have to force myself to be vulnerable. And even then it still feels fake. I feel fake. After years of me breaking people apart, the universe decided it was my turn to be broken.