I guess, if I’m going to do this, I should start at the beginning. The problem with that is, I recently learned that a blog should only have 600-1,000 words in it; 2,000 at the absolute most. I’ve got ten years of shit to get through and there’s no way it’s remotely possible in less than 2,000 words (I’m already at 61)… So after writing, re-writing, and erasing the whole goddamn thing and starting again, I hope I can still get my point across without running the risk of losing you this early.
As I said earlier, I’ve been in three long-term relationships. The first two lasted four years each, the third lasted two years (sounds like the beginning of one of those awful math equations we got in the eighth grade – if Sarah has seven apples and four bananas, what colour is her pen?). I also mentioned how awful said relationships (mostly) turned out to be.
For want of not breaking my word limit, I will give you the highlights:
BOY: The High School Sweetheart
AGE AT COMMENCEMENT: Seventeen
SENTENCE: Four years
REASON FOR BREAKUP: In short, I fell out of love with him (told you I’m a fucking cliche). Equally, we were mere children when we started out and, even though he was the first to break my heart in many different ways (eventually forcing me into my first encounter with ’emotionally shutting down’), I was far older mentally on account of my upbringing and had forced him into a world of ‘settling down too soon’. Like I said, we were just fucking kids. What did we even know of the world? To be fair, High School Sweetheart is the only one of my exes that I’m amicable with even to this day. We have remained acquaintances who like each others’ Facebook posts and write obligatory HAPPY BIRTHDAY! messages on each others’ walls each year. My point is, HSS is the only one I didn’t HATE when it was all over – he was as good to me as he knew how to be at that point in our lives (more on this later if you so wish).
BAGGAGE: Fear of abandonment. Fear of not being capable of loving someone ‘forever’. Fear that there’s something wrong with me. Fear of saying you’re angry because he might just dump you (or, fear of abandonment). Fear of being ugly (I got fat). Love does not conquer all.
UPSIDE: He taught me so much about love and patience. His family welcomed me with open arms and accepted me as one of their own, which was huge for me. He taught me that when someone really loves you, they will move heaven and earth to make you see it – even if they know you’ve slipped almost too far off the edge to make it back. He taught me that people can change and that love is unconditional, even if it’s not the type of love you’re hoping for.
BOY: The Dementor (thank you J.K Rowling)
AGE AT COMMENCEMENT: Twenty one
SENTENCE: Four years
REASON FOR BREAKUP: This guy was a fucking monster – he absolutely earned his nickname. An insecure, overbearing, controlling, manipulative, evil, maniacal, pathological-liar who gradually and systematically sucked the life out of me. Sadly, it took me four whole years to understand I didn’t deserve that. He had made me believe he was as good as I was ever going to get – no one was ever going to want me. His background made me an outcast because I was culturally unfit (that is, as an Australian I wasn’t good enough) and my (at the time) 23 year old boyfriend was not allowed to date me, be seen in public with me, introduce me to his friends and/or family, or sleep at my house. Not to mention he would lie about absolutely fucking everything. I’m not even exaggerating. He was the type of guy who would go to Maccas and buy a Cheeseburger but then tell everyone he actually ate a Big Mac. The shit he would spin was fucking astounding. He was also an emotional vampire who dealt with his insecurities by making me seem like a villain who was only out to torture him. If I got sad or upset with something he did to me just to hurt me (which was almost always because he was a manipulative, selfish cunt), HE would cry and tell me I was awful and that he only did it because I ‘hurt him first’; a classic table-turner. He constantly told me I drank too much; that I shouldn’t have guy friends (because men and women cannot be friends); he would question why I ‘always wanted to go out’ (partying); that I needed to ‘settle down’ (in life). And I was far too young and inexperienced to understand that this was mental and emotional abuse and (eventually) isolation. I genuinely confused it for love on account of him constantly reminding me that I was worthless. But we’ll come back to this walking bag of dicks in another chapter; I have a word limit to keep!
BAGGAGE: I am undeserving of love. I am ‘the wrong kind’. I am not a good person. I am trashy. I am forever overreacting. I hold onto things too long. I am unfair. I am constantly being judged by everyone. I am not smart. I don’t believe you; ever. I need to change. My opinions don’t matter. You are just settling for me while you wait for someone better. People always have a hidden agenda – they don’t really care about me. Love is not enough. This list goes on…
UPSIDE: I finally left him.
BOY: The Bodybuilder
AGE AT COMMENCEMENT: Twenty six
SENTENCE: Two years
REASON FOR BREAKUP: I can’t even tell you why we started dating to begin with. This guy was a raging narcissist and held all of the intelligence of a cardboard box with a smiley face drawn on it. Conversation was drab, the sexism was invidious, and the control (whilst not as awful as the last motherfucker) was suffocating. At first I found him attractive and decided I wanted to sleep with him but I was still too inexperienced (in life and relationships) to understand that this was not the same as dating him. And though I voiced my fears in the beginning in terms of dating and being let down/controlled/hurt etc (told you, fucking cliche), somehow in our light-hearted, fun interactions (amid his broken English; he happened to be of the same background as the Dementor, you’d think a girl would learn), we ended up dating. I remember thinking I’d lucked out this time because he seemed to be this gentle, understanding, lovely person who accepted me just as I was. I was no longer a hideous outcast that could never be loved. His family almost immediately embraced me as one of their own and he was nice enough. At first. But eventually he started changing his tune. He was no longer enchanted by my loud and boisterous personality – he was embarrassed by it. He was no longer ok with the fact that a lot of my friends were men – he was jealous about it. He was no longer enthralled by my whimsical and free-spirited nature – he was ashamed of it. By this point, and without realising it, I was already shutting down emotionally. We were six months in… There was no substance, no depth. I couldn’t have an intelligentconversation with him because the only things he really knew about were gym equipment and protein powder. His jealousy and possession were simply an eye-opener to how UNready I was to be in a relationship again; back into the world of being controlled. And even though I knew I would never be happy with him, I felt like I owed it to him to try. I felt like I hadn’t been honest ENOUGH when the whole thing started; as if I had inadvertently sold him the wrong dream. He seemed to love me so much – and I’d not often been loved. And so I put up with his boring conversation and our cultural differences that shocked my sensitive-feminist-soul to its very core. In the space of six months I had worked out that I didn’t really love this man and that we had absolutely no future. And still, I stayed. Yes, I know what you’re thinking.. But in my defence, I still believed that anyone who settled for me was as much as I deserved. He cared enough about me to want me in his life – that must be love. I was caught in regular arguments with him about why I’m like this. “Why do you always want to drink?” he’d ask, “Why don’t you want to get married?”, “Why is it so important to always see your friends?”. I started to realise that I couldn’t do this forever… If I stayed with him, I’d die of raw anger over his sexist, controlling, and childish nature. Or sheer fucking boredom. When I finally broke up with him, he admitted to trying to change me – I was too unruly and ‘wild’ and he needed a wife. “I just thought you’d settle down once we were together.”. Thanks, arsehole.
BAGGAGE: I am fat. I am too Australian and Australian girls are perceived to be “sluts”. I am embarrassing. I am not normal. I should only care about money and nice houses. I am too opinionated. I am terrified of settling down. I should want to settle down. I should want to be a “housewife”.I cannot love men for more than six months. I bore easily.
UPSIDE: I finally realised it’s not (necessarily) me. I finally understood I was picking the wrong men and that I was not ready for this commitment thing. It only took me 10 years (better late than never!). After the Bodybuilder I realised I didn’t HAVE to be in a relationship to feel good about myself because, let’s face it, none of those relationships made me feel good about myself. I suddenly knew that I was actually happy WITHOUT a man in my life. I was happy sleeping ALONE. I was happy not having to worry about the next argument; what time I should get home; if there were too many “other men” at the pub I happened to be drinking in. I was happy being fat. I was happy being FREE. I also discovered that I am a sapiosexual and this opened up a whole new world for me.
That’s all I can fit in to my limited word-allowance (based on Google’s opinion of ‘great blogs’). I’ll finish by leaving you with the short version of what I’ve learned over those ten years in the hopes it can somehow help you:
- You can’t expect someone to love you the way you love them.
- The biggest thing I took away from my time with High School Sweetheart is that he loved me in a way I couldn’t understand because it wasn’t the exactway I loved him. We were speaking different languages but the messages were the same; we were just lost in translation. But he loved me and he loved me deeply. I know that now.
- “Too little too late” is a thing.
- So many times (with both the long-termers AND the short-termers) I have experienced this. I warn and warn and warn that I’m not happy and that I’m shutting down/losing interest. In the worst cases it took four years for me to finally call my own bluff and walk away. But it was only in those moments of losing me that the men decided drastic action needed to happen. They suddenly became martyrs – soldiers of love and all that is good. My advice to you (be you man, woman, both, donkey, seagull, alligator) is don’t EVER let the person you love feel like the only way they can be happy is to leave. Because if that’s where you’re at, it’s already too late. The problem with ‘love’ is that people truly believe it will conquer all. The sad fact is, sometimes it just can’t. In the words of Patty Smyth, sometimes love just ain’t enough.
- Just don’t lie.
- That’s it. Don’t lie. Not even a little bit. Not even at all. Unless it’s to cover up a surprise party or marriage proposal or something. That’s an acceptable time to lie. But never otherwise!
- You deserve better.
- People who tell you that you’re insignificant are small, pathetic people. That mess is on them, not you. Bullying and manipulation is about control. If they think for a single second that you might leave them, one of two things will happen – either they’ll realise they’re fucking up and try to mend their ways (in the hopes of keeping you because THEY LOVE YOU), or they’ll convince you that there’s no point because there’s nothing out there for you anyway. And that shit is about them, not you. It’s about fear. It’s about losing control. It’s about looking out for themselves. You DO deserve better. Fuck that guy.