Note: Everything below is from my point of view only. It comes from my recollection of events 6 years ago, and many details have also been left out. These are just instances that really stick out in my mind and memory.
I think I was 26 when I met my first randomly. Not my first boyfriend or dating experience, but my first out of school/college, “grown up” relationship. I say think, because I honestly don’t remember what year we met. We’re friends now, and it feels like I’ve known him forever.
The first time we met, we chatted for a bit, and then he and a friend started talking about a girl behind her back. I didn’t lash out, but I made sure that that both he and his friend knew how inappropriate was. Needless to say, this did not go over well, and he told his friend, “This one is okay looking, but she’s mouthy.” I’m a little unsure about the word mouthy, but I saw red and felt like I had to step up to that challenge. So for the few weeks of knowing him, I couldn’t stand him. I thought he was self-centered, egotistical and way too cocky. I didn’t really speak with him much after that, but after a few months, I came around. I don’t recall why or how. It’s been a while.
He told me he was 36; so 10 years my senior. This later turned out to be a lie. He was well older, in his 40s. He had a big personality, thought highly of himself, and seemed a match mentally. He was intelligent and kept me on my toes. Our conversations covered history, philosophy and random pop culture. We talked every night, and I’d fall asleep on the phone each time since we spent 3 to 4 hours talking. It went this way for months, until my best friend (a man) came for an unexpected visit. I was supposed to be spending the weekend with the First, but I received a phone call out of the blue from my best friend that he was in town (he lives two states away) and needed a place to stay. I explained to him that I had plans but would see what I could do. I thought instead of leaving Friday night, I could just leave Saturday morning. We wouldn’t really be missing much time together, but I’d still be able to help out my best friend.
When I explained all of this to my guy, he lost it. He accused me of blowing him off so I could hook up with my friend. I tried to explain to him that it was my best friend and that only, that he is like a brother to me. Instead I was told if I had really cared I would have told my friend no. I stated that this is my best friend and I will not be making a choice between the two of them. I was making a compromise to incorporate all the important people in my life. Needless to say that didn’t go well, and I was forced to make a choice. And I chose my best friend. As a result, I received a picture of my then ex grabbing the chest of some random girl a day later.
We didn’t speak for 3 months but ended up running into each other at an event. Things rekindled. For a while they were great, but small things started to pop up. I’d be uncomfortable with something, and he’d tell me to stop being a baby, or stop standing on the fence and just do whatever it was that he had wanted me to but I was on edge about. I had to walk a fine line of trying to be strong but not like a “jaded broad.” It was trying, to say the least. I was supposed to have a pedicure and manicure; I needed long hair; and I was criticized for my “girl next door” or “tom boyish” look. Any argument I was talked over the entire way through. I always had to end up conceding just to keep the peace. In fact, we even argued over whether women were considered unequal in the 1950’s because back in then women had equal rights in their homes. Men didn’t actually look down upon them because his grandmother could be an accountant, which I had to eventually just say FINE to, that he was right and history was wrong. Those women lib I was consistently told how to act, and how women who attract men are supposed to behave. This went on for well over 6 months but the good times were worth it, in my view. It wasn’t until he cancelled on me for my brothers wedding (which resulted in an argument where my brother in law could hear him screaming at me through the phone). He was constantly holding over me that he had a degree in a psychology and marketing since I only had a BA in journalism, that meant he knew more.
A few weeks later that I was supposed to meet him on a trip, but I had fallen and smacked my head on my tub resulting in a concussion. I called him immediately to tell him I wouldn’t be able to make it, and I was met with anger rather than compassion. If I had really wanted to see him, if I really cared, I would drive up and meet him anyway. It ended up turning into a full blown argument. I had to send him pictures of me in the emergency room, and ultimately, I did end up driving up to Boston to meet up with him. The entire time my family was texting and calling to check up on me. They wanted to make sure I was okay and were pretty distraught about me driving 5 hours while concussed. I decided to stop off at a family member’s place on the way to rest, and when I notified him of my detour, I was again yelled at. If I stopped, then that meant he didn’t mean enough to me because if I went to my family’s house I would never make it to the city to see him. We argued, and I was just exhausted. So i went directly there. I nearly ran out of gas as I was in daze by the time the gauge light went on. When I finally got there, my family kept calling and texting to make sure I was alright. This annoyed him to know end and eventually ended up erupting in him yelling that my family was making me crazy and that they were making me on edge. We ended up arguing the next morning when I woke up and he said good morning. I smiled at him and rubbed my eyes, then went to take a shower. When I came out, he yelled at me that I was being a bitch. I had no clue what I did. Apparently me being tired gave him the impression that I was angry. I ended up leaving after we argued and drove to my family’s house.
This was my first experience of an “adult” relationship, and now as an adult, I can’t believe I stayed in that situation so long. Family often told me that the woman they knew was no longer around, and I can see it now. During the time, I felt that way at times, but going through some of these memories, I can see I disappeared completely. The worst part is that this experience has still stuck with me in many ways. There are parts of me that never came back or that are forever changed.
The charming and confident exterior pulled me in as well as his age. I felt I would be avoiding all of the drama of younger men. I thought the fact that he valued himself would mean he could value me and that less bullshit would be present. I’m not sure why I didn’t run after the first argument we had. Something about the way we smoothed things over and he apologized made me feel like it was a normal disagreement, that this what happens in relationships. Arguments are had, and then you either smooth things over or break up. I didn’t realize these weren’t average arguments.
If I look back now, there are definitely some interesting aspects as to the dynamic. There are definite daddy issues that came into play. I was still looking to “fix” that relationship or strive for that approval even though he had already passed. I question whether that’s what I was looking for in that relationship, if I was just projecting my need for approval from my father onto this relationship.
Yes, he and I are friends now, but we live in different states. It makes being friends a lot easier. Yet he still displays a lot of the traits that ended up breaking my spirit. It took a long time for me to even to consider being friends with him as I didn’t want to be sucked back in. Our relationship lasted for 2 years, and there were many times that I had walked away. After sometime, he would get in touch and I’d be pulled back in. There times that my mother, my aunt, my brother and even my brother-in-law would tell me that I needed to end this. By the way, you know things are bad if your brother-in-law tells you to walk away from someone. I would hear them. I would listen, and then I would go back. I felt like he was right, the things he would say about me were correct and I was lucky to have this relationship.
Now, I realize how unhealthy this relationship was. I realize how easy it is to end up in this cycle and it’s certainly not easy to get out of. I know it should be, but you end up so brainwashed that it’s not easy to work your way out of. It takes a lot to walk away, especially when you care for someone. It’s even harder when you care for them more than you care for yourself, and that’s something I’ve become to make a pattern out of. Undoing it is a whole other story.