Younger years

Getting out of an Unhealthy Relationship

After calling off my engagement I spent a lot of time being single. I went on dates here and there, but it never really went anywhere.

I constantly got asked when I was going to get married, didn’t I want a family, why hasn’t someone taken you off the market yet. All while also seeing the majority of my friends get married or have the first of their babies. That was a really hard time for me; I was so happy for my friends, but I was devastated that it wasn’t my turn yet.

I remember being made to feel like I was “too-much woman” to attract a husband because I had started my career, owned my own home, owned my own car, and had plans for my future. I remember crying to myself multiple times over the comments others would make that would bring me so much pain.

I don’t recall who made the comment or what it was, but it hurt me enough that I felt I needed to make a broad statement announcement on facebook as to why I was still single. I wish I could find the post, because I would share it with y,all, but essentially I told how many times I had been asked out by losers, and that I wasn’t interested in wasting my time dating someone when I knew they weren’t someone I could see a future with.

I got a huge response to that post, mostly from supportive friends and family that encouraged me to not settle. Others took it as an opportunity to slide into my DMs and hit on me. One person in particular caught my attention: a guy that I went to nursing school with, who I hadn’t talked to in years, or even knew he was still a facebook friend.

The following day (night really) he drove to see me. And again, the next night. We had instant chemistry/sparks/fireworks whatever you want to call it. It was exciting and new; he was unlike anyone else I had ever dated before. I quickly fell into this fairytale, my life is like a movie, brain fog and for the next year, I don’t think that fog ever left.

In hindsight all the red flags were there from day one. He was getting a divorce. I was not opposed to dating someone who’d previously been married. But I later found out just how recently he had been separated from his wife. There was a small child involved. I love children, so I wasn’t opposed to dating someone who had a child. He was addicted to Adderall. I didn’t recognize this as an addiction until we had been together for a while.

A handful of days after we started “talking” tragedy struck; his sister had committed suicide. One week in & I was attending her funeral with him. Present (and quite cozy to his mom) were his ex-wife and child. It’s at this point that I probably should’ve been wise enough to run for the hills. Not because she was there, but because of the ‘we’re all going to be one big happy family’ bullshit they were trying to achieve.

The next several months were full of me compromising and making excuses for his behavior. Behavior that wasn’t obviously alarming, but enough that my mom was asking a lot of questions. However, I kept rationalizing any & every concern my mom had, I convinced myself that everything was completely normal.

On a random Thursday night in October, he suddenly broke up with me over text and I was devastated. So devastated that I drove to his house Saturday morning to discuss it with him. At which point I found out he, his still wife since the divorce wasn’t finalized yet, and son had spent Friday night decorating pumpkins and watching a movie together as a family. He told me that he didn’t want to be with soon-to-be-his ex-wife, but that he was committed to making co-parenting with her work and life for his son as easy as possible. Respectable answer, right? Except that what he meant by that was…….they were all going to live together under one roof, in separate bedrooms, and just be friends.

I spent the better part of the next three months being miserable over the loss of this relationship. Every time I would start to move on, he would text or call me & rope me right back in. Keeping me plenty far enough away, but also just within arm’s reach.

End of January-ish I was finally not thinking about them (him & his son) every day and was beginning to consider dating other people. It had been weeks since I’d had any contact with him and for the first time, I was okay with that.

I remember standing in the bleachers of a district basketball game and feeling my phone buzz in my pocket, I checked the phone screen and my head spun. It was him saying he missed me. Shocked, anxious, mad, excited, disgusted, and emotional all at once. I had to go to the bathroom to give myself a moment.

Long story short, I agreed for us to have a conversation and hear him out.

His now ex-wife was indeed living at his house with their son, and yes to be clear, he was still living there too. I told him that we would not be together as long as she still lived there. He promised that she was moving out; he was going to talk to her about it that week.

As weeks passed, he was full of more and more excuses: she didn’t have the money to move out, he couldn’t kick her out because then where would his son go when it was his time to be with her, she was trying to find somewhere but couldn’t, etc etc etc

It’s important to mention at this point that when we got back together, my mother was not happy. My mom has never been one to hold back, so she very plainly told me how stupid she thought my decision to get back together with him was. But I didn’t care, I couldn’t see all the red flashing signs right in front of my face. This REALLY put a strain on our relationship, we wouldn’t talk for several days at a time, and even when we did, I kept her in the dark about A LOT of what was going on. I felt like she was totally against me, so even when I started to not feel right about certain things, I couldn’t admit it to her.

Over the next month or so things continued to get worse. Our whole relationship he had known my mom wasn’t his biggest fan and at this time he knew she hated his guts. He used that to alienate me from my parents even farther by saying things like “they just don’t think I’m good enough for you” ……..making it their fault instead of his. This type of manipulative behavior was 24/7, he was an expert at planting little seeds.

Things really peaked in April when his ex still hadn’t moved out of the house, he had basically been living at my house, and I was fed up. An ultimatum was given, it was me or her. In theory he chose me. There was a very heated discussion between him, me, his ex-wife, and his mother. This incident resulted in me calling the cops and them filing EPO’s against one another the following day.

I think it was probably mid conversation with the cop that showed up that I realized I had lost my mind. When we finally left from his house, I had a panic attack and threw up in the movie theatre parking lot.

I have never in my life been involved in anything like that. I have parents that are still married to this day. I have never been in any type of negative interaction with the police before. This entire scenario is 100% out of character for me, and I could finally see it, but I was in so deep I didn’t know what to do.

We got back to my house late that night, I remember taking a long bath & drinking a large glass of wine still trying to wrap my head around what all had happened, what I was going to do next, and how I had even gotten to this point. I don’t think I slept at all that night.

In the next few days there was a court date required due to the EPO’s they had filed. It was on this date that we got into a huge fight again, he packed all his things, and left my house for the last time.

I wish I could say I told him “don’t let the door hit ya on your way out & don’t come back” but I didn’t. Our conversations after that day were a series of him blaming me for the strained co-parenting situation, telling me that now we could never work because she & I would never be able to get a long again, but also still telling me that he loved me & wanted us to be together. I read a quote recently that sums up where I was mentally: “I’m over it, but I’m not over him”.

I don’t remember the exact conversation, and I don’t care to, but one-night things changed. He came off with some type of remark about how everything was my fault and that I should’ve been smarter than to cause such strain between him and his ex-wife. When I read those words something inside of me finally snapped. I finally realized that I didn’t have to let him talk to me that way. Afterall, I didn’t owe him anything.  

I told him that I wasn’t going to stand for being treated like that any longer and that I never wanted him to speak to me again. I guess he knew that he’d finally gone too far because he immediately started blowing my phone up with apologies, but it was too little too late. I was done.

Over the next week he tried every way possible to make contact with me, and honestly, I’m surprised he never showed up at my house, but thankfully he never went that far.

I am embarrassed to share this story. The majority of people that know me, will find a lot of this story hard to believe because 95% of it is very out of character for me. I wasn’t being physically abused, but there was emotional abuse and a whole lot of manipulation and isolating me from my family and friends.

I share this story with hopes of giving someone else the encouragement to get themselves out of an unhealthy relationship. I promise it’s worth it.

I also shared this so I could tell you what it was that I needed from my friends and family while I was in this relationship. I needed support. I needed to not feel alone. I needed to not feel judged. I needed freedom to talk about the situation. I needed to not feel like someone was going to say, “I told you so”.

If you have a friend or family member who’s in a relationship that you can see is unhealthy, be there for them. Make sure they know they are loved, supported, and prayed for. It’s okay to tell them you’re worried about them, and it’s okay to explain why. But it’s important to not be so pushy with your opinion that you push them away.

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