Hindsight is 20/20

I have a journal that I’ve kept on and off for the past 2 years, and while I’m not great at writing in it frequently, it holds some of my most personal thoughts. This journal begins in my sophomore year of college and talks about a range of things, from family to class to boys.

Many of the earlier entries are about one boy in particular.

This was the first boy to ever steal my heart. I was never good at flirting or even talking to boys in high school (who am I kidding, I’m still not), but after becoming comfortable in a friend group during my freshman year of college, I was much more confident in myself. It helped that this boy was also in my friend group. We started dating in the second semester of my freshman year, and I was happy. I had wanted a relationship for so long, and things were really great for a while. I guess this was the honeymoon period – but there’s a difference between a normal honeymoon period, after which you have arguments but you work through them, and the other kind, after which there is constant fighting and crying, irrational jealousy, and sticking around because you’re so in love that you don’t know any better.

There was no physical abuse in this relationship, and I have a hard time labeling it as mentally abusive, but it was definitely not healthy. I was happy one minute, devastated the next. I can’t remember how many times I begged him to stay with me even though I did nothing wrong, how many times I stayed awake for hours into the night, putting my schoolwork and even friendships at risk in order to assuage my boyfriend’s jealousy. I can’t count how many times he apologized to me after my emotion was spent, how many times he made me feel like it was all my fault and he was the good guy for forgiving me.

I can recognize how toxic this relationship was now, and while it was not good for me mentally, I don’t regret the knowledge that I gained from it. However, I do sometimes wonder how I was so willing to let things go that I knew were wrong. I was reading the entries in my journal today, entries that were so blissfully unaware of the warning signs of a toxic relationship that I could barely hold in my disbelief.

A few months after he broke up with me. “I’m not really sure if there is a chance for us still, though. That’s what I want, even if everyone disagrees with me.”

When we talked about getting back together. “He said he does still love me and he wants to hang out and be with me, even though he’s not sure what’s going to happen.” (He said this for months; we never officially dated again. He said labels weren’t important.)

And then the real zinger, after we had been kind-of dating for a while. “I can’t help but wonder if I’m helping the cycle by giving him chance after chance…He’s still going on about making a decision – what does that even mean? After all we’ve talked about, is he still considering not being together?” Yet I continued to kind-of date him for another 4 months.

I know I was blinded by my feelings and the fear of being alone, but it’s still hard to read these things, written by my own hand, and not be upset with myself for continuing the relationship for so long. I also know that there are thousands of other women and men who go through the same thing or much worse, and my heart hurts for them. It’s not an easy thing to handle, especially when you keep it all to yourself.

I don’t think that this boy is a terrible person, and I do have good memories with him. But these memories do not outweigh how awful he made me feel. There is no excuse for someone else, especially a loved one, to treat you without respect. I learned the hard way that love does not conquer all, and I hope that anyone reading this can learn from, or even recognize themselves in, my experience. It might hurt to end things with the person you love, but it’ll feel so much better when you’re free.

You are worth the world. Don’t let anyone make you believe that you aren’t.

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