In the very beginning, he always joked that I was out of his league. I used to laugh, brush it off and change the subject because I wanted to believe it wasn’t true. Now, looking back on our failed relationship, I see now just how right he was.
He expected the worst in people.
He approached the world on the defensive as if at any moment, he might come under attack. It made him closed off, bad tempered, and always on high alert. It also made it hard to get close to him. I was always open but he was always guarded. I was constantly trying to prove to him that I was worthy, even though in reality I was more than he deserved.
Kindness is a virtue.
There’s a basic respect for other human beings that he seemed to lack. No matter how much I tried to encourage him to be open-minded, he went through life as if the world owed him something, He was judgmental, arrogant and sometimes outright mean. I got sick of making excuses for his biases, which clashed horribly with my caring nature.
I value honesty.
Everything I told him from the start was true. I poured out my heart and my soul early on and hoped he’d do the same. On the rare occasion he shared, it was only what he thought I wanted to hear. He couldn’t truly let me in and he only said what would benefit him. Then there were the lies—as long as it was self-serving, they fell off his tongue effortlessly.
He was too rigid for his own good.
Life is unpredictable and sometimes it’s messy, but he was completely incapable of accepting change or dealing with hardship. The slightest break in routine sent him flying off the handle, and no matter how much I tried to keep him grounded, it was no use. Worst of all, his meticulously high standards for me were not just unreasonable, they were impossible. I was set up to fail.
I always defended him.
I became an expert at explaining away the way he treated me, at pretending we weren’t as toxic as I know realize we were, and at giving him the benefit of every doubt. I realize now that he didn’t deserve it. I stood up for him, no matter how poorly he acted, even though he would never do the same for me. Instead, he loved calling me out when I wasn’t at my best. As if I needed a reminder.
I never intentionally pushed his buttons.
I knew all the ways to get a rise out of him but I also knew better than to use them as a weapon. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for him. He loved to piss me off and he loved to watch me squirm. From the smallest annoyances to my largest internal conflicts, he couldn’t miss a chance to rile me up. What kind of person tries to purposefully frustrate the one they love?
He constantly made me feel small.
His words and his actions backed me into such a tight corner, that before long, I lost myself in the shadows. Everything I said or did became something for him to mock until I stopped speaking up at all. Nothing I said was good enough and nothing I expressed was valued. I gave him all the respect I had but he couldn’t spare me any of his own.
I saw the best in him.
Despite everything he put me through, I still hoped he would change. The good moments, though far and few between, kept me wishing and praying that inside, there was a better man. I gave him more chances than he deserved but it was never enough.
He stopped choosing me.
I can’t put my finger on the exact moment but eventually, he gave up. Our ups and downs became so routine and so comfortable that he stopped trying altogether. Until the very end, I never quit on us. Unlike him, I did whatever I could to keep what we had alive even when it was killing me.
He couldn’t see that I was drowning.
When I noticed what was happening, I called out for help but my Mayday warnings went unnoticed by him, just like everything else I tried to communicate. I was always in tune with my emotions and trying to make him talk to me but when I was screaming out for help, he was oblivious.
I desperately tried to save us.
It wasn’t my job to fix our broken relationship but I tried to anyway. It wasn’t fair for me to force my unhappiness and pain deep down just so we could get another shot but I did it anyway. Over and over. While he didn’t lift a finger. Instead, he let our demise ruin the only sense of self I had left.
He refused to accept it when I walked away.
The day I finally realized what I needed and left was one of the bravest of my life. His reaction when it happened—so disbelieving, so desperate and so angry—proved exactly why I had to. I always supported his decisions whether I agreed with them or not, but when the time came for me to make mine, he couldn’t handle it. Proving once and for all, that he was never the man I deserve.
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