I have to start by saying that everything we had, was real. The chemistry, the adventures, the shared values, the common interests, the good memories – it was all real. And you did save me by letting me go.
But somewhere between the giddy first dates and falling for you, something else happened. I don’t know exactly when, but toxicity crept in. And the self-doubt, manipulation, desperation, and rigidity that grew over the next five years – so intense that I completely lost myself – well that was real too. For every high, there was a lower low, and the cycle quickly spun out of control.
It wasn’t your fault that I was young, naïve, and didn’t know what a healthy relationship was supposed to look like, but you were supposed to show me. It wasn’t your fault that I let you call the shots, but you were supposed to make me feel like you valued my opinion. It wasn’t your fault that I went through personal challenges in the years we were together, but you were supposed to support me. And you didn’t. Instead, I was so blinded by wanting us to be perfect, that I didn’t notice how unhappy I was.
I’m still sifting through the distortions I have, trying to figure out which are my own, and which you put in my head. When I avoid the mirror, is it because my body isn’t good enough for me? Or because it wasn’t good enough for you?
When I turn away from the couple making out on the street, is it because I don’t like PDA, or because I’m jealous that you were never affectionate? When I bite my tongue from sharing my opinion, is it because I’m unsure of myself, or because I expect to be shot down? When I shiver seeing abuse on Facebook, or in movies and songs, is it because I feel bad for the girl, or because I was her…
Admitting how traumatized I feel is pathetic. Especially since I called you my protector. But here’s the thing, being willing to walk through fire for someone doesn’t mean anything if you’re the one burning them over and over.