Few things beat the thrill of being in a relationship for the very first time in your life. Until that point in your life, you have never even thought about being with another person, let alone commit to them. For me, this feeling came when I was in high school. I was too young to know what “like” meant let alone “love”.
But, this guy was a charmer. I am sure most of you know a boy who may be an egoistic douchebag but knows how to say the right things at the right time. This is how it starts, isn’t it? Of course, I didn’t know this at the time.
He said the right things at the right time and before I knew it I was head-over-heels in ‘love’ with him. However, the charm wore off pretty quick but I was too naive to understand it. Slowly, everything started to go into a downward spiral.
I started noticing tell-tale signs of emotional abuse, I just didn’t know what they were called at the time.
But, where do you draw the line? I was pretty sure I was not the only one facing it. All my friends told me his possessiveness, rather over-possessiveness was a way of showing how much he liked me.
“Awww…he loves you so much”, they said.
And that is what I thought. For four years, I dealt with him keeping a tab on my every move. I dealt with him asking me the names of all my friends who accompanied me every time I went out, no not to clubs, to college.
“It’s just love, he must be worried,” I told myself.
The fact that we were in a long distance relationship also fed into my delusions of him being worried instead of seeing his controlling behaviour, for what it really was.
And then started the moral policing. I’m sure a lot of us have heard the line from our boyfriends/ex-boyfriends,
“Don’t wear that dress baby, It’s too short/the sleeves are too small/ it’s sleeveless, I don’t want other boys to look at you. You’re for my eyes only.”
Now I come from a household which has never stopped me from doing anything, but being the eldest child, I have always exercised that opportunity with restraint. I was a quiet child and the fact that I was bullied in school and went into depression, made me quieter than I really was.
However, as withdrawn as I was, I was also really independent and resilient. (I know those are contradicting statements, but hey, my life was a mess back then) I stood up to him and he decided to punish me by giving me the silent treatment.
You may be tempted to argue “He must be angry, you’re reading too much into it.” To this I say, I am not because at the end of every silent treatment he asked me, “So, how did it feel to be not talking to me?” I had confided my abandonment issues in him and he took advantage of them. For far too long.
Endless sleepless nights and bawling my eyes out later, I decided to confide in my mother who told me to leave this boy as he was bad news. But, did I listen? No, I was too much “in love” with him. And then came the “If you don’t sleep with me, you don’t love me” line.
I was independent and strong as my parents had taught me to be, but I didn’t want him to leave me, which he did everytime I didn’t do what he told me to. Yes, you may think of me as a stupid girl but I was too naive to know it was wrong at the time. Maybe, I was stupid because I didn’t want to accept the truth.
Well, ‘love’ makes you do dumb things I guess.
But, I was not all stupid, eventually, I started to see him for what he was. Unfortunately, it was too late, I had given him too much control and now he had taken over my life.
That’s the thing with being in an emotionally abusive relationship, you don’t realise you’re in one until it’s too late to get out of it. You’re in too deep and it’s only a catastrophic mistake from the other side that can get you out.
So that is what I wished for. A huge mistake from him which he can never bounce back from. Unfortunately, it came at the cost of losing a part of my dignity. So, this is what happened.
We were having an argument and he started to walk away, while I was still speaking. “Fuck off”, I mumbled. Next thing I know a strong hand struck me across the face, shattering my every delusion and crumbling my dignity (It was in public). I was hurt but maybe, this is what I needed to wake me up.
I did end up leaving him after this particular episode but I wish I hadn’t taken so long to do the right thing.
I came back home with a shattered soul and a swollen cheek, narrated my entire ordeal to my family but nobody said ‘I told you so’ as I had expected them to. I was their independent, strong, stubborn girl again, unintimidated by anyone. So what did I learn from this emotionally abusive relationship?
I learnt that when you confide your problems in someone, they will take advantage of you but you don’t have to let them. Trusting people is not a bad thing but don’t trust them with all you have in you.
Learn to hold your own, because it’s only you at the end. You’re your own superhero and you do not need a knight in shining armour.
Lastly, have the strength to face the truth no matter how bitter it is. Your delusions grow stronger only when you allow them to overpower you. The last thing you need at a vulnerable stage is telling yourself it’s just a bad dream.
Today, I am the same woman who is ready to take risks. I guess, sometimes you need to be broken to realise what lies in you is so much stronger than the external forces.