6/30 – what doesn’t kill you…

Question 6: What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?

I’ve been avoiding this question all week. I knew instantly what the honest answer was, but debated whether or not I actually wanted to write about that or not. I tried to come up with a second most difficult thing I’ve been through, but couldn’t really come up with anything. Basically everything difficult I’ve experienced stems from one thing. And I realized that if I am going to help girls avoid situations like mine, I better learn to talk about it. Because up until this point, there are very few people who know about this.

The hardest thing I have ever experienced was an abusive/unhealthy relationship, and the lingering effects that followed. I think the worst part was actually the years that followed. But let’s start at the beginning. At first, I didn’t even want to go out with him. “So why did you?” Well, I was sick of waiting for the person I wanted, and I figured why the hell not. At least I should give him a chance. Well, that chance turned into about 3 years, about 2 1/2 of which I didn’t want to be there. At first, things were fine. I even started to really like him after we started going out. For months, things were fine. I guess it first started with jealousy. My best friend was a guy, which wasn’t ok. The jealousy started to get out of control, sort of the “you better not talk to him” type of thing. Being young and stupid, I just did what he said. As things progressed, the major arguments started. Mostly stemming around jealousy, all over the same person. He’d check my phone, start horrible arguments, physically stop me from leaving, cry all the time, push me, tell me it was my fault he was so sad, constantly call or text me to see what I was doing/who I was with, etc. It would eventually turn into him forcing me to do things I didn’t want to. No additional details on that one. He became consumed with this idea that I was cheating on him, even when I wasn’t. I sometimes would wish so hard that I had, just so I could agree and be done with it.

While all this was going on, I got horrible headaches. Mostly tension headaches, but some were debilitating. The kind of headaches where you just have to lay in bed and cry because doing anything else hurts too much. After we finally broke up, things didn’t really change. He wasn’t around me anymore, so the immediate aspects stopped obviously, but the jealously and emotional/verbal abuse continued. Three years after we broke up, he still went off on me about how I’m a home wrecker and a whore and on and on and on. Three years later!

That was a very summarized version of what happened during. As I said earlier, the hardest part was after. Immediately after, it was dealing with everyone’s questions about why we broke up. “Oh my gosh, what happened?” “I’m so sorry!” “No way, I thought you two would get married for sure!” are some of the worst things a person can hear. Also, having to hear about what a great guy he is. Losing some of my “friends” because they believed everything he said about me. For the record, I didn’t cheat. It was so hard during those first few months, and even now, to bite my tongue and not let everyone in on the truth. If people knew what really happened, they’d have different opinions. But that’s besides the point.

I wasn’t able to date anyone seriously for about 3 1/2 years. I wasn’t even able to develop real feelings for anyone for almost 3 years. Everything felt fake, and I guess on some level it was for me. I was broken and couldn’t seem to fix myself. On the rare instances that I’d run into him, he’d pretend that we were best friends and come up and talk to me, put his arm around me. I’d literally shake in anger and have to leave. All I wanted to do was punch him for touching me. It took me a long time to even be able to be alone with a guy without having a mini, internal panic attack. I wasn’t able to enjoy things that I used to. Basically the only way I could get close to someone was if I was drunk. I had a few mid-life crises. Drank a lot. Did a lot of stuff I shouldn’t have. I can’t really say that it helped much, but it helped me to forget for awhile anyway. Basically I tried to ignore it. Eventually I learned that if I ever wanted a meaningful relationship, or to help anyone else in my professional life, I would need to get my shit together. I still have freak outs every once and awhile, but I’m dealing.

I want to use this experience to teach teenagers about dating violence. I think a lot of young girls think something is normal when it’s not. Jealously isn’t cute and a sign that someone cares, it’s a warning sign. I realize not everything escalates into other forms of abuse, but it can, and people need to know that. It took a long time for me to admit this was an “abusive” situation, and I still haven’t been able to give names (out loud) to some of the aspects, but maybe in the future I will be able to.

So anyway, a long answer to a short question. Since this was kind of a downer, I’ll throw some Kelly Clarkson on the end, as per my post title. 🙂

Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)

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