How Being in an Abusive Relationship Affected My Mental Health
It’s the only way I could describe him, even though almost two years have passed since that relationship.
I fell in love with a ghost… He was a ghost.
I fell in love with a ghost.
I can’t comprehend how that happened. I guess he was nice and caring, handsome and funny. And I fell.
I don’t know, still, if he loved me. He said he did. But actions speak louder than words, right? And, to be honest, his actions weren’t of someone who had any affection. I guess he cared, and I guess he tried his best. I can just guess at this point.
I have never been in a physically abusive relationship. I never thought I was even harmed by words or psychologically by my ex-couples. But, with recent attention to violence against women, I read a tweet that said, “Analyze for a second, if none of your relationships were verbally or psychologically abusive.” And it hit me. This ghost harmed me in so many ways that I’m just beginning to repair my heart.
You don’t need someone to hit you, or to abuse you, or to undermine you in order for it to be violent. It’s just the way they treat you, the way the end things, the way they get in your head and twist everything up there. I’m not saying you have to marry everyone you get involved with. No, certain things don’t work out and that’s fine. It’s the way things are done, it’s the repression, the undermining of your feelings, the prohibitions, the innumerable changes you have to make in order to keep them happy, the way they leave like ghosts with you questioning every single move… The way they pair up with your anxiety and your deepest, darkest secrets to leave you wondering: What did I do wrong? Was it something I said? Am I not good enough? Could I have avoided it? Why didn’t I realized he didn’t love me sooner?
When you enter in any relationship, you are vulnerable. You show the other person who you are entirely, and hope for the best. For them not to hurt you, for them to value you, for them to love you. And you do the same with their story.
But when you carry the baggage of a mental health history, it’s tougher to be out in the open, to show you just as you are. You have to choose (based on your intuition) if that human is worth dragging into your symptom-appointments-meds-dark side world. Yes, everyone’s life is a little messy. Yes, everyone has deep, dark secrets. But here you can’t hide them, because it’s part of your reality. Of who you are. Of how you see the world. You give them the pieces of your broken story, hoping they don’t cut with the sharp edges, and that they won’t let them fall… And most importantly, hoping not to scare them, hoping to feel loved, hoping to find a safe space.
I don’t know, and I’ll never know, why a ghost loved me, or spent some months with me. I think he needed a body to inhabit. I guess he needed life. I guess he tried to make himself human by me. And so, I started giving him parts of who I was, of what I had, for him to become more and more human every time. And I could swear, in a moment, he was real. In a moment, he had a heart.
In a moment, he existed… With parts of myself I gave him.
After then, after a glance at his heart, it all vanished.
He remained with pieces of me I’ll never get back. I only had proof of our relationship in private photos. All of the sudden I couldn’t understand how the man I was with was capable of being so mean, of vanishing like that. It’s like he never existed. It’s like he was never in my life. The only sign I had was that I was broken, I was incomplete.
And that, in addition to other factors, sparked my fall into an uncontrollable spiral and into my worst depressive episode.
The person I loved, the one I gave the pieces of my broken story, the rock I used as protection when my parents separated, was just… gone. And whenever he appeared, he was heartless. He was mean. He treated me like a stranger. I even remember reaching out once, telling him about my suicidal thoughts and having to read the following response, “I have no time or interest in helping you with that.”
It leaves you with scar… Because you feel like you are such a burden and a complex case, that anyone “willing to love you” deserves you. But no. I rather be alone than with a ghost who left me feeling worthless, incomplete and hopeless. Of course, you constantly ask yourself if anyone will ever love you, with your mind (that you don’t even get most of the times), with your anxiety that goes off by mundane stuff, with your nights of endless tears, with suicide surrounding your always… And I like to think there are goodhearted people who will love you with that. With, and not despite that.
Abusive relationships are everywhere. I guess when you’re more vulnerable, it’s easier to mess with your mind. Because abuser’s speech is the same that depression repeats constantly: You aren’t enough, you should be better, no one will ever love you, everyone will leave, there are thousand girls better than you, it would be understandable if he cheated on you, etc… But believe me, we are worth it. We deserve a full-time, worth-telling love story. Because we aren’t burdens or despicable. And because no one, no one, has the right of telling us that saving our life is a matter they, “Don’t have time or interest in.”
If you or a loved one is affected by domestic violence or emotional abuse and need help, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
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Thinkstock photo via Archv