I knew our relationship was toxic and that I had to get out, but I stayed for way longer than I should have. Even though I knew better, I just couldn’t leave—here’s why I stuck it out.
I was confident that I could fix it. I was extremely aware of how dangerous my abusive situation was, but I thought maybe I could change him and fix our relationship. If I just stuck around for another week or two (which turned into 18 months), it would all blow over and we’d find happiness together. That obviously never happened. The only thing that did change was my feelings—I no longer wanted to be owned.
He was everything I thought I wanted. I was totally enamored with him from the beginning to the point that I was blind to the truth about how terrible he was for me. I knew crying myself to sleep every night and covering up bruises wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing, but for awhile I thought the abuse was worth it so I could see him smile. That’s ironic because he never cared to see me smile. If I was crying, he’d roll over and tell me that I was keeping him up and he had work in the morning.
I didn’t want to admit how bad things had gotten. I wanted to believe we were better than the constant arguing. He’d tell me we could make it through anything as long as we stayed together and I believed that because I was scared not to. I never thought I would’ve been the one who walked away. Choosing to stay with him meant I was proving that I’d be there for all the bad and ugly moments, but eventually I’d had enough.
Truthfully, I wanted him to love me. I knew he didn’t love me. I could see it in his eyes— he didn’t have to tell me. I could’ve picked it up from all the girls he was messaging or from the way he never wanted me around. I was hoping he’d eventually wake up and really notice me and it’d be enough for him to only want me. Unfortunately, even that wouldn’t have solved our problems.
Coming home to the same person was all I really wanted in life. All I wanted was a routine, which was exactly what I got—a routine where we’d go to work and come home to silence, sleeping back-to-back, and waking up miserable next to each other. That’s not exactly what I had in mind when I pictured my ideal relationship, that’s for sure.
I found peace in the silence. I enjoyed the sound of a silent house since when we actually spoke to each other, it was only to insult each other. As long as the silence lasted, he was still in my life, still mine. The quiet was perfectly acceptable because we weren’t bringing each other down and we still got to sleep in the same bed. It was unhealthy but I thought it was worth it at the time. It wasn’t until much later that I realized how wrong I am.
Part of me got off on the unpredictability. I didn’t know whether or not we’d spend the next day fighting, not speaking, or nowhere near each other. Being separated meant that I’d go out with my best friend, go shopping, or just get out into the world and away from him. I also didn’t know if it’d finally be the day we would make up for good and get along. All I wanted was a happy ending and that was never going to happen.
I was addicted to the pain he caused me. It’s not that I truly wanted to be ignored and neglected, but without that, we were nothing. It hurt, but at least he was around. Feeling pain meant I was alive and there was something there. Plus, I figured happiness would have to come at some point. I was waiting for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow that never existed.
He manipulated me into thinking I wouldn’t find better. He made me believe I was the problem in every situation and even when my mom told him he was in the wrong, he didn’t see it. It always got worse when someone else got involved. I learned that I needed to keep my mouth shut if I ever wanted to move on and have a future with him. Ironically, the more I kept my mouth shut, the more it built up inside of me until it finally exploded—and that’s when I found the strength to leave.