Being in a Toxic Relationship & How I’m Doing Now

Please understand while reading, that this is a bit of a terrifying post for me. Other than those who watched it all happen, not many now know that this was a part of my life, and now I’ve decided to tell my story in hopes to find the relief that my other posts have brought me. A few months back I wrote about Relationships and C-PTSD, and in there I mentioned quite a bit about the fact that I was in a very unhealthy relationship on and off for nine years. For most of this time, my brain was in war with itself over the good vs. the bad of the relationship. Should I stay, should I go? Should I forgive him, should I hate him? A lot of back and forth. But due to his manipulation and my mental health and lack of self-esteem; I’d always go back. Until I didn’t. After that, so much started to change.

I will start off with my fairly traditional disclaimer: I am in no way a mental health professional, or any sort of professional, really. This is all just my story and how my relationship went. This is not meant to be advice of any sort, simply my life’s story. If you are not in safe and healthy situation, please get the proper help and care that you need.

I’m also going to add a secondary disclaimer: I by no means have any ill intent in telling this story. I blog to help process and find relief from situations that I have been in. I am not a professional (as I said) so all theories are my own. If I were to take a guess at what his diagnosis could/should be, I’d put narcissistic and sociopathic right at the top of my list. I think he’d probably admit to both, too. I feel like it is relevant to the story and how things happened, which is the only reason I am mentioning/guessing.

For the purpose of this story, I will refer to my ex as “Tom” as to protect all identities. I met “Tom” in high school, we hung out in the same area and had mutual “friends.” I use quotations for that because it seems like most just tolerated him being there, as there were some issues with him. He was dating a girl who again was in this sort of mutual friend group. When we graduated, he and his girlfriend at the time broke up, and that summer we talked some, he told me how depressed he was, how he wasn’t eating or sleeping; so I started inviting him to gatherings I’d have (at my parents house) like swimming or bonfires. He came, and it was fine.

We started dating our second semester of college, and it lasted about a year-ish. What I didn’t know then was he was lying to me to manipulate me even before our relationship really took off. He claimed to be the romantic type, because that’s what I told him that I wanted; only to find out YEARS later, that he was not- he told me he was not- to which I called him out that he lied about it. He had no response. This was one of his very first manipulations into our relationship.

During this year of dating, I’d constantly get blown off. We would set plans and then when it came time for those plans, if I was lucky, I’d get a text saying he wasn’t coming, but mostly I got nothing. I’d text, call, and text again for half an hour to an hour after we were supposed to get together. Eventually he’d respond with “something came up” or he was “busy” another one of his B.S. excuses. The whole time he bailed on me to play video games. I’m almost positive it was every time, whether he told me the truth or not. One day we had a family gathering, to which I’d invited him, only to have him bail on me for video games again; which annoyed a few family members quite a bit that he bailed without telling me until an hour after it started.

I’d get understandably upset and annoyed, to which he would turn things around, claim I was being “irrational” or that it was not a big deal, and he would decide that he was then mad at me for reacting what he deemed to be “the wrong way” and would stop talking to me. Sometimes he’d avoid me for a week to a month after. I should mention- at this time, we did actually work at the same place; just different departments.

This became typical. Why did I stay? Because as I said, he is manipulative. It seemed that as soon as he felt that I was starting to get tired of him, that I was done speaking to him, or that I was ready to give up; he’d start coming back around. He’s start commenting on my Facebook page, he’d start walking by my department at work, or he’d start texting me again. Looking back now, I am completely embarrassed by all of the crap I’d put up with, but I was vulnerable and he was manipulative. Every time, I caved and went back.

The last couple of months of our initial relationship, he barely spoke to me. I was ignored for my birthday, for holidays, for everything. Extremely minimal contact. I think it was New Years Eve, after not having plans with “Tom”, my best friend at the time and I went to a party. I will say this- I did make a mistake. I know it is easily justifiable to say that he was treating me poorly, that he wasn’t speaking to me, and he was honestly just being an asshole, but what I did is still not okay. At this party, with “Tom” having abandoned me, I got drunk and ended up getting kissed by the guy throwing the party. About a week or so after (I think, I cannot remember exactly how long after), I went over to his house and told him about it. He was very upset (this was the only time I’d forgive him for being upset with me), but we didn’t break up then. Just before our one year mark, I broke up with him.

Things went on and off for a long time. For most of the 9 years, we were not in a relationship, but we were seeing each other and not seeing other people. We would act like a couple, but he refused to commit, which of course drove me crazy. There was a lot more getting bailed on, ditched, whatever you want to call it. Any time I would get upset with him doing this, I would react. It was a mix of anxiety telling me he didn’t love me, it was depression telling me of course he didn’t, and it was him showing me I wasn’t important. More than once, I would get upset to the point of tears because I felt unloved and unwanted. Yet, every time I told him he hurt me or that I was upset, or even if I was mad, it was always my fault and he would stop talking to me for days to weeks.

Most of my friends hated him, my family hated him- though my parents gave him a few chances to change and show that he was willing to come around and be better – to which he never stepped up to prove anyone wrong. And after years and years of being manipulated and emotionally abused, I decided to move in with him.

Things had finally seemed to be slightly less crazy (which felt like a relief, but I should have known better) and I was looking to move out of my parents house, and since he claimed he wanted to be with me; we got an apartment. If there was one good thing to be said for him, at least he was financially responsible. I struggled some, but at least I knew he could pay his rent on time, which was pretty much the only positive to living together. I should have seen more red flags then, because as we were looking for an apartment, the place I’d lived at before, which from what we knew at the time, didn’t allow pets… and he went and bought a cat before we were going to move. I should mention I am also pretty badly allergic to cats. So really I should’ve known then, that clearly I should’ve left the situation… and yet I ended up finding out that they do allow pets, so we moved in. (I did get my own cat after we moved in, because I do love them, but when I left, I was not able to keep it- plus I’d been sick for almost 2 years because of allergies, so I did entrust him with my cat. The only thing I’d trust him with.)

After a few months of living together, my mental health took a quick and steady decline. I began shutting myself off and staying in my room and not talking. He didn’t say anything until I did, to which he claimed he knew I’d been depressed and crying in my room. Yet if he did, either he’s just sociopathic or a terrible “partner” or both. I vote for both. But I also don’t believe a word he says when he claimed he knew how hard of a time I was having. I was living with him when I found out my dad was sick. I spent that night in tears constantly, yet nothing from him. How many times did he ask how my dad was doing? Zero. If I told him, he’d feign interest, but never sought out to see how my dad was.

After a little while, I completely stopped talking to him unless it was absolutely necessary- which was rare. We lived in the apartment for two years, and for just about all of the second year, and near the end of the first, I barely spoke to him. I knew he was still finding ways to try to manipulate me into speaking to him again. For my birthday, about a month before I was finally able to get my own apartment and leave, when I went to leave my room, there was a Sephora bag sitting on the landing “shelf” at the top of our stairs. In it was a gift card and a card that read something along the lines of “happy birthday, even though you don’t talk to me” which I found to be incredibly passive aggressive and very unsettling. In the nine years that we’d “dated” or whatever you want to call it, very rarely did he even acknowledge my birthday, even when he did, it was never on my actual birthday. He’d never ONCE bought me a birthday present. That was how I knew IMMEDIATELY that this was purely a manipulation tactic.

About a month later, I was incredibly fortunate to be able to move while still not breaking my lease at the current apartment. I do fully understand how incredibly lucky and fortunate I am to have my family, as my grandmother helped me get out of the situation I was in, and put down money for my security and first month at the new apartment. That weekend, I recruited a few friends (and my sister) to help me move at least some of my things so I could begin living there.

Although “Tom” had never been physically abusive, I still was very fearful and anxious to return to the apartment if I was unsure if he was home or not. Eventually I did get the remainder of my things to live in my new apartment and our lease ended. After that I still felt paranoid for months. I knew in the past when we worked together, he’d use excuses to pass by my department, so I wasn’t sure how far his “coincidental meetings” would go. I avoided all places that I though I could run into him, sticking to just work & home. Any time I’d see a car similar to his, my anxiety would spike. Does he know where I live? Is he going to find a way to contact me? I blocked his phone number, his Facebook, any way I could think of that he’d be able to contact me.

I’ve been at my new apartment for just over a year and a half now. After a couple months, I started to feel more and more comfortable where I was. I was far enough away that my chances of running into him were slim, and I finally started to feel safe. Again, “Tom” was never physically abusive, he was never violent or aggressive in that way, but the paranoia became real after I left. I wasn’t sure if he’d just deal or not. My mental health started springing back to a healthier level. My depression started clearing and I was finally able to start seeing things more clearly.

I blamed myself for the majority of 9 years. Felt like my mental health was the issue, that I was unstable and that’s why we had so many issues. I spent years feeling like I was a horrible girlfriend, like I overreacted to everything, despite my friends sitting with me WHILE I TEXTED HIM telling me that I wasn’t. I couldn’t believe them, because there he was getting mad at me. We got back together at a point, and then when he again stopped talking to me and such, I broke up with him via text (since I could never get any face-to-face time) and he got mad at me “because it was the night before Superbowl Sunday” and “I knew it was a busy day for him” and basically how could I. Not “I don’t want to lose you” or “I care about you” no. “How could you, before my busy day at work.” He all but yelled at me for doing so.

Life after leaving has been amazing. The longer I haven’t talked to him or seen him, the better I feel. All I’m left with is a gaping hole of regret for all of that time. I made a lot of mistakes with those around me, fought with friends, fought with my family, and did a lot of harm to myself (mentally). I am grateful that I was able to work on rebuilding my relationship with my family, and the friends that are still in my life were able to see the rebound from then to now, and luckily are very understanding of what that relationship did to my mental status and my life.

I say this fully understanding that I did play a part in all of this. I understand that being in that kind of relationship, you get diluted into thinking that it is normal, that no one else will love you, that that’s the person you should be with, because they keep coming back… I allowed myself to be swayed into that trap. I’m not sure, had my mental health been in a better place at any point, if I’d have been able to recognize it sooner, but unfortunately I cannot go back in time and shake the living daylights out of myself. All I can do now is fight like hell to stay mentally healthy and never fall into a situation like that again. Right now, I’m keeping a pretty big distance between myself and the dating world, but I still try. I just know that unfortunately this wound will take a little longer to heal, and that there might be some residual side effects from this toxic, manipulative relationship.

Above all else, I am safe, I am happy, and I am living my best life with all things considered. And I have no plan to change that.

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