color key — red: assault; green: relationship to self; black: suicide; yellow: relationships. contrast of light and dark correlates with bright and somber tones of voice.

Belief

Belief

Belief

Belief

My freshman year of high school, I met a boy that I'll call Michael. I felt a special connection with him the moment we started talking, however, I was already in a relationship at the time. My sophomore year — a few months after my previous relationship ended — Michael and I started dating. The first three months were heaven; my mom loved him, my friends loved him, even my teachers loved him. He put in such an effort to see me, taking the bus to see me whenever he could since he didn't have a car. He was thoughtful and loving. 

And then he was jealous. Growing up, I always had a lot of guy friends and around three months in, this finally started to bother him. It started small, talking about jealousy and him getting slightly annoyed with me occasionally, which I knew was normal for any relationship. I did my best to assure him that there was nothing to worry about. Then it turned into him ignoring me when he saw me laugh at my guy friends jokes and telling me I couldn't hang out with my guy friends alone. I was surprised, but since the first few months were so fantastic, I thought he was just going through something and that it would be temporary.  

A couple months later he started telling me I couldn't hang out with certain people. On several occasions, I accidentally came into contact with these people. For instance, one guy, a friend of mine, who Michael told me was especially "creepy" tapped me on the shoulder to say hi to me before walking away. I didn't say hi back, I just smiled and returned to what I was doing, but that was enough for Michael to be furious with me. "You've regressed on all the progress you've made. Don't you respect me at all? I can't believe I ever fell in love with a girl as pathetic as you. Why should I even be with you anymore?" And on and on he went. "Pathetic" almost became synonymous with my name, he used it so much. 

As the year went on, more and more of these types of events started happening, and it felt like they got worse each time. When I "did something wrong" he would ignore me for days, sometimes weeks. He called me "boring" and "stupid" more times than I can count. I'd have to beg for forgiveness only for him to tell me to "fuck off" and "not go cut [myself] like a psycho." He would compare me to other girls and say they were "more interesting" than me or that he thought his "type" was just changing (i.e thicker girls). At one point, when I was at my lowest weight, he told me I looked like a malnourished child and I was too disgusting to be around. It didn't occur to me till after we broke up that my weight loss was due to my worsening depression. During the 2.5 years I was in this relationship, I had more panic attacks than I had ever had in my life, yet I still stayed with him.

I still battle with myself today, wondering if I stayed because I was weak or if I stayed because he had convinced me I had no other option. He made me believe I was a dumb fuck-up most of the time. Yet, he would always make me affirm that he was the best guy I would ever get and he would always tell me that if we broke up, if I lost him, that I would just end up with some ugly douche-bag who treats me like shit. Ironic, right? 

At almost two years into the relationship, we got into the biggest fight we ever had. He blamed me for what had happened, though, what had happened was entirely out of my control. He screamed at me as I drove, tore apart my key chain decorations and threw them at me as I drove, tears streaming down my face. He talked about how he hoped I would crash the car and kill myself, or kill us both, or kill only him to leave me with the guilt of his death. He crawled into the back of my car because he couldn't stand sitting next to me and continued throwing things at me from there. 

He started talking about how badly he wished he could beat me. "I would break every bone in your body if it weren't for the legal consequences," he said at one point. When he said this, I wished he would do it. I wanted him to hit me and bruise me or break my bones because if I was physically injured than nobody could deny the pain and suffering he was putting me through, nobody could deny the abuse. But he never hit me. About an hour later, he calmed down and started apologizing profusely. I wanted to leave, but despite how badly I wanted to leave, part of me still believed I belonged with him. So I stayed and I forgave him.

He broke up with me about two weeks later. A week after the breakup, he bragged to me about sleeping with another woman. Three months later, I started dating a new guy and Michael suddenly decided he missed me and wanted me back. Three weeks after that I was back with Michael, making him promise that he would be nicer to me and apologize to my mother first. There was some drama between them, but if I wrote about everything that went on in this relationship, I would have a full novel. He promised he would be kinder and apologize to my mother, and as soon as we were back together he said he wasn't going to apologize because he felt he didn't need to. 

This time around the emotional abuse and manipulation never got as bad as it had before, but it was still present. Him telling me which majors I could and couldn't pursue in college, calling me dumb and pathetic, etc., etc. Then, when he was back home from college, he wouldn't see me at all. He said he just wanted to see his friends first and when I told him I wanted to see him too, he got mad. "Why couldn't I understand he just wanted time with his friends?" he said. Two weeks go by, he misses an important event of mine and that night tells me he doesn't want to say he loves me anymore. In an act of desperation or kindness, I bring him food and leave it on his doorstep after this event. I tell him it’s there and he becomes furious. "You're so pathetic, it’s laughable," he says.

A week later he breaks up with me. He says that it could just be for the summer though, and that he still loves me. He just needed to work on his mental state. However, if I went on a date with anyone or did anything with any guy after we broke up, he wouldn't get back together with me. I would be "spoiled" or "used goods." So after a few weeks, when I realized I never, ever, ever, wanted to get back together with him, I had my first hook-up. And then my second.

It’s been almost two years since then and that relationship still plagues my mind. Nobody knows about what happened, aside from close family members and friends. I'm afraid of telling people. Not because I'm afraid of him (anymore, at least), but because I'm afraid no one will believe me. 

© Midnight Woman 2021