A hard post to write.

Last week I read a comment on  this post on A Practical Wedding. The post itself really made me stop and think about the support you can, and should, give to someone who is in a toxic relationship. You should go and read it. Now. For the sake of all of your friends who might one day need your help.
But it was this comment to the post that really got me thinking…
‘Funny, most of my girl friends seem to have one really bad relationship, and then the next serious relationship they have turns out to be really good and they get married. Anyone else seen that pattern?’
I’ve seen that pattern. I AM that pattern. The relationship before I met the man that I intend to spend the rest of my life with, was really, a not very nice one. For nearly three years I let somebody belittle me, abuse me (emotionally, and latterly physically), and play with my emotions. 
To the outside world, including families and friends, we were the perfect couple. He, extremely handsome, literary, sporty, gregarious, affectionate, me, a young confident woman excelling in my career in a man’s world, between us creating a lovely home for us and our future. No-one except my best friend knew what was going on inside our relationship. No-one knew how he cheated on me with various women from the beginning, but played mind games to make me believe that I was just a jealous woman with trust issues. No-one knew how like a cat with a mouse, he would play with my emotions, alternately being incredibly romantic and caring, and then punishing me by switching to distant and blunt for no apparent reason. No-one knew when he deliberately crashed my car with me in it, then walked off leaving me standing on the side of the road in hysterics, or when he picked me up and locked me outside of our house at 3 in the morning in mid December, or that he threw water all over me as I got ready to go out to celebrate a friends birthday. No-one knew when it progressed past this to more significant acts of violence and emotional abuse.
How could I tell anyone that I, this ballsy, self confident woman, was letting someone do this to me. I felt a failure and ashamed. This type of things happens to other women. Not me. I knew that I should leave him, but he had such an emotional hold on me – I believed that he would change. More – that I would be the one who would change him.
It was not the violence that made me walk away. Who knows how long I would have stayed were it not for coming home a day early from a business trip to find another woman’s clothes and toiletries in my house, with a note from her saying how wonderful the last few days had been and how she couldn’t wait for the rest of their life together. I can still smell her perfume that made me gag as I walked into our bedroom.
I can’t explain why the abuse didn’t make me leave, but this was the catalyst I needed. I finally could prove to myself, and everyone around me that I was not wrong, he was cheating on me (I later found out that, as I’d thought, this woman was one of many – she also only lasted for less than a month after I left). There was no way he could get himself out of this, no way he could twist things until he could make me feel I was the one to blame. 
I walked away, which in itself was a hugely difficult thing. For months after the break up he continued to use threats and emotional blackmail to try to control me. I am so lucky, and grateful for the people who supported me throughout. Without them I’m not sure I could have been so strong.
Fast forward, and I met my man. He is caring and loving and responsible and reliable and trustworthy and still manages to be exciting to me. He supports me, and with him I know I could do anything. Together we have had adventures I would never have dreamed of.  We have created a team where we are both equal. 
But the comment on A Practical Wedding made me stop and think. God. What if I am only marrying him because this is the relationship following the toxic one? What if I was still letting this man control my life, by running into marriage with the next man I met?
But I’ve realised that that’s not it at all. After the last relationship, I knew exactly what I wasn’t looking for in a man, and was also very wary about letting myself into another relationship. So I was far more careful. My radar was fully up and running. Any man who I felt wary of I immediately walked away from. I was only going to settle for the best now. I had learnt first hand how being single can be so much. better than being with someone who wasn’t right for me. If I was going to have a relationship it would be with someone who I could trust, who I could build my team with, who would open my eyes everyday to the amazing world out there, rather than trying to hide me away from everyone and everything.
So when I met my man, it certainly wasn’t a case of clinging onto the first relationship that came my way. It was a case of realising that this person who had come along was exactly what I was looking for. 
Having a bad relationship can focus your mind. Make you reassess what you thought you were looking for in a relationship. Make you rethink your priorities. And most importantly make you value the really important things in your partner.
I could never thank my ex partner for how he treated me. But I am grateful that that relationship helped me to be the person that my man fell in love with.
Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Life Experience, Marriage
9 interesting thoughts on this

8 Comments

  1. Posted August 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Hi Fliss,
    Thanks for this post, I've been there too and have also now found someone who treats me right, funny how you don't know how that really feels until you find the person who can do it.
    Must have been hard to write this, well done, glad you did.
    x

  2. Posted August 3, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    It's surprising how many of us have been through it, but wouldn't admit to it – makes me wonder if the statistics are wrong and it's even more prevalent than anyone realises.

    Shame plays a big factor, so the more people that talk about it, hopefully the easier it will be for others to speak out….

    Fliss xx

  3. Posted August 3, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi Fliss. Well done for sharing your story – I'm sure it must have been rewritten many times before you pressed 'post'…brave and honest…

  4. Posted August 3, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I'm glad you have been able to find something wonderful out of something so horrible.

    Thank you for sharing so openly. x

  5. Posted August 3, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    ***hugs***

    sounds like you have your prince charming :-) never doubt that and a very lucky man he his x x x x

  6. Posted August 3, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    What a brave and inspiring post, particularly for those that are at a stage of losing hope. Thank you for sharing such a personal moment with us. It's lovely to hear that everything worked out for you in the end. Lots of luck for the future. xx

  7. Posted August 3, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Thank you everybody, but I'm not really brave – I started to write about
    something else and this just sort of wrote itself. I obviously needed to get it out. I toyed with keeping it in drafts, as a private post just for me, but I'm so glad I did post it – it's been very cathartic to put it out into the world, and in
    grateful to all of you who've not judged me.

    To anyone going through anything similar right now, or who thinks someone they know may be, please go and read the practical wedding post…it might just help…

    Xx

  8. Posted August 6, 2010 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    This is a very well written and deeply thoughtful post. I especially liked the part where you say that you were able to focus your mind, this shows strength of character.

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  • By Twilight on July 5, 2012 at 7:01 am

    [...] I read it, it reminded me of two things. One, my ex boyfriend, who was without any doubt, a sociopath in every sense. But that’s in the past, and not what we’re talking about here. The second, more [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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