It’s important to always take mental health seriously, but blaming other people for why things went down the way they did is a great way to add weight to someone else’s shoulders. It’s been years since a guy blamed me for his mental health issues but it still bothers me to this day.
I met him in college and we became acquaintances. We were part of the same organization on campus so we got to know each other pretty well. We never hung out one-on-one and I kind of preferred it that way. Even though we had a lot in common, I wasn’t physically attracted to him and our differences would have made a romantic relationship pretty challenging. But still, he tried.
He wouldn’t stop asking me out. Not only did he ask me out but he did it when he knew I was already attached to someone else. It seemed a little strange. If I was single, I’d understand him trying, but him insisting that we go to the movies together actually put a strain on the relationship I was trying to develop with someone else.
My friends even told me I should date him. Is there anything more humiliating than having friends say, “He likes you a lot! Why not give him a chance?” I was a grown woman with my own taste and I just wasn’t into this guy. You should never go on a date with a guy just to spare his feelings.
Eventually this caused our friendship fall apart. Soon, I started actively trying to avoid him on campus. Just thinking about him would give me a headache. I felt like every attempt at a friendly hangout was just an excuse to try and make our relationship more than it was, so after graduation, I didn’t talk to him all that much.
He contacted me years later. Eventually, he got back in contact with me. Being a state away at the time, I felt OK about it — I had also moved on and was willing to forgive. We caught up over Facebook Messenger and I learned he was battling some mental health issues. Then he did the worst thing possible: he credited me as being the reason why they started.
He said I was the start of a dark path. According to him, rejecting him put him in a dark place. That’s understandable—it’s easy to feel down and depressed after someone isn’t on the same page as you. But that’s not my problem. The fact that he dragged me into this and projected these issues onto me just caused me grief.
While he was in a better place, I couldn’t get over what I had apparently done. This guy was in such a bad place that he checked himself into an institution, which I had loosely heard about from mutual friends. That made things a little worse. Not only did I lead him down a path of depression and self-harm but I also helped bring him to a level where he needed 24/7 professional care. This was heavy. Honestly, I wish he never said anything about it.
It may have been continued punishment for rejecting him. Remember, I was nice to him this entire time—I just didn’t want to date him, especially when I was pursuing someone else. Years later, he tells me all of this and I think it was to make it perfectly clear that I had hurt his feelings. The whole tactic was awful. All of a sudden, it’s all about what he wanted. Nobody ever even thought to think about what I wanted.
By telling him off, I feared I’d make the situation worse. While it’s amazing that he felt comfortable enough to openly discuss his mental health, now I was in a position that left me scared to tell him how not cool the whole ordeal was. Especially since it took a few days to really hit me. But every time I thought about him, I thought about the blame. I felt powerless.
I still feel weird every time I see him pop up on Facebook. I should have blocked him, yes. That’s on me. But honestly, he’d left me alone for the most part since college. I noticed he was, in general, getting a lot better as a person. It was just that standalone comment that made me feel so uncomfortable inside. If he never made it, I probably would have forgiven the awkwardness of college a little bit and penned it up to inexperience. Instead, I’m watching him flourish as I’m saddled with knowing he views me as the dark spot in his life.
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