I wanted to write something about the weird emotional state of accidental neglect, an inability to communicate, and casual suicidal thoughts. It was gonna be poetic and nice and talk about how things get better and how nothing is anyone’s fault and how my emotions are more stable.
What is emotional abuse? What quantifies it? How can you even tell it’s happening?
Physical abuse is easy. There’s marks to prove it, pains and aches and actions.
Emotional is harder. It’s quiet manipulation, making you believe that this is what you wanted all along.
This is a hard one. Not because I don’t know what to say.
Because I’m worried no one will listen.
Because I’m worried that even if they listen, they won’t believe me.
Maybe I don’t really believe me.
Everything is hard, and blurry. Emotional abuse is something that’s hard to prove and harder to explain. I feel angry and hurt and a little bit scared of what’s to come. And I don’t know who to tell- I don’t know who will believe me.
But let’s start from the beginning.
I met him in late August. I had no one there. I was vulnerable and alone, and he has even told me that he saw that.
I needed someone, and he was suddenly there, friendly and wanting to talk and not telling me how weird I was. I liked it, even if he said all sorts of things I didn’t agree with. I pushed that tiny part of me that said “no” down, because he was cute and funny and he paid attention to me.
Three days. That’s how long I knew him before he decided it was okay to take…certain liberties with me.
Before he decided he had a right to my body.
I let him. I liked the attention. He made me feel important.
No one ever made me feel important.
He became the most important thing in my life very quickly.
And the thing was, there was a major power difference in our “relationship”. Because it wasn’t a relationship, he wasn’t ready, and so I had to wait for him, so he got to call all the shots, make all the decisions, decide how and when and where our relationship progressed. We weren’t on equal footing. He had all the power in this relationship, and I needed him, and he made me prove it. He made me prove that I was willing to wait, willing to give up all the things I wanted just for him.
We didn’t ever do what I wanted, but it was fine. He didn’t ever compromise, but it was fine.
I loved him, and it would be different when we were in a relationship. Then we’d be on equal footing. I’d get a say in what we watched and what we played and when we had sex.
We fought. Not over serious things. We fought because he was so sure that he was right about everything. Even my own mental illness.
There’s some things I don’t back down on. That’s one of them.
I cried a lot. But I didn’t say anything, because he had all the power. I wasn’t sure where I stood in this relationship- I didn’t feel confident that he wouldn’t just leave if I contradicted him too much.
I spent a decent amount of time afraid.
Not for my safety. But for my stability, because it felt like he could just take everything away in one fell swoop.
But I loved him. When he was sweet, he was really sweet. He was funny. He said he loved me.
I said I loved him first. He made me wait a long time for that, too. Held control over me with the fact that I loved him.
He told me he loved me right before he asked me to have sex with him. Even then, I felt a bit like he was using the words to get something he wanted. He hadn’t actually put it in me yet.
That was when I loved him the most, and even then I felt like he was manipulating me.
But I ignored it. And it continued.
“Don’t you trust me?”
“I thought you loved me.”
(Are you paying attention? This is what we call textbook manipulation and emotional abuse. But wait. It gets better.)
I spent a lot of time reassuring him. I spent a lot of time trying to prove my feelings. Trying to prove I was telling the truth.
But I was supposed to assume everything he said without any proof.
That applied to our arguments, too. Everything I said was suspect- needed source after source after source- while everything he said had to be taken as gospel.
But I loved him. When he was sweet, he was really sweet. And he was always sweet after an argument. Always sweet after I started crying.
The day before Christmas he told me we would never date.
He did that a lot. Picked fights right before big events, so instead of focusing on the event I’d focus on him. He didn’t like when I went out without him. Didn’t like talking about when I had fun without him.
After Christmas- after we came back- we started dating.
Nothing changed for the better.
Some things changed for the worse.
It felt like he stopped trying. Stopped paying attention to me, and such. Only I didn’t notice, because we were dating and it was all very exciting and while we still weren’t in a relationship- he still called all the shots- we were getting closer.
But slowly, we fought more. He didn’t care about my feelings, only about proving me wrong.
He was homophobic and misogynistic and a little bit racist, but he said he wasn’t so I was supposed to just believe him. Only all the fights we got in showed me otherwise.
But I didn’t want to see it.
My opinions didn’t matter to him. And if I tried to bring it up, tried to tell him how I felt, it was like I was personally attacking him. He would tell me he didn’t think I loved him, how much I hurt him, how he sacrificed and compromised so much for me. I was always the hurt one. I was always the one crying.
I was always the one apologizing.
He always made me feel indebted to him. Like he had done so much and I had done nothing.
And if I tried to bring up what I did it was like I was trying to say he did nothing. Suddenly I was attacking him and I was having to apologize and prove I loved him.
(I feel like I’m going to throw up. I loved him. I still love him. And it blinded me to what was happening. Never before have I understood the feeling that is emotional nausea not created by stress. But right now I do.)
I was always having to prove myself. Nothing I did mattered, or was enough to be noticed, and I spent more time apologizing than anything else. He would make me cry, but somehow I was still the bad guy, and he would guilt me into apologizing.
But he did little things, sweet things, when I was upset and it wasn’t because of him. And when he was sweet, he was really sweet.
He disapproved of all my friends. He disapproved of everything I did.
He was constantly making little remarks, trying to bring me down, trying to change who I was to be who he wanted me to be.
And I was afraid to say anything. I grew afraid to contradict him, afraid to set him off. When he was in a bad mood, he was terrible to me emotionally, and I was afraid and tried to make sure everything always went right so he’d never have a reason to be upset. I was afraid of anything that might set him off.
(This is textbook. And If what I was afraid of was him hitting me, no one would hesitate to believe me. But because everything is emotional, I’m afraid they won’t, even though emotional abuse if very real.)
He didn’t like me having fun without him. He had to control every aspect of my life. He was never wrong. He had no real faults.
He would pick fights with me right before big events, so instead of having fun during them I’d be upset and thinking of him.
He came out to visit, two weeks ago. He was like this the whole time.
Only my mom was there to witness. And she didn’t flat out tell me. But then right after he left we left for Jamaica, where I wasn’t going to be able to talk to him, and right before he decided to pick the biggest fight with me yet, and I was crying and then she helped me realize he was a little bit manipulative.
A little bit. Ha. She just didn’t have the full story.
He disregards all of my feelings and opinions and mocks my interests and hobbies, all while claiming to be the best boyfriend ever.
He constantly brings up what he’s sacrificed for me, but if I even try and mention what I’ve sacrificed for him suddenly I’m accusing him of being a terrible person who does nothing for me.
I have all sorts of flaws he gets to point out and ask me to change, but if I even mention one thing I want him to change he acts like I’m saying he’s the worst person ever.
He’s constantly hurting me emotionally, and I’m constantly having to apologize for it.
I’m just so very tired.
And I love him, I do. But I need someone who loves me back. I need someone who cares about me, and my interests, and who doesn’t manipulate me into being what they want.
I need someone else.
Love is not that wild, exciting thing, the butterflies in your stomach
I hadn’t been in love
Sure, I have loved
I loved the angel of the third grade, who came and made me not alone
I loved my parents, my sister, my dog
I had not been in love
There’s a difference, you see
I obsess- it’s what I do
It’s how my personality is shaped- I cannot casually like something
At first, it was insecurity
It was my being unsure of whether or not I was worth anything
And he never said I was, but I felt like it
Cause he paid attention to me
It wasn’t love, on either of our ends
But I felt the butterflies
He didn’t love me
He liked the idea of me, of how his dad was when I was around
He loved the idea of what “us” meant
I was his second girlfriend
He was my second boyfriend
We didn’t really know shit about what we were doing
We both tried, though
I fell out first
I realized that this wasn’t love, and that realistically I only sort of liked him
I found him boring
(Aren’t I the worst?
As if that’s such a crime.)
So I started ignoring him, because I was a child with childish ways
Then he fell out
Well, not exactly
He just sort of reacted
I should have left him
He should have left me
Instead, he cheated
That’s when I knew I wasn’t in love
Because my ability to trust was gone
But my heart wasn’t broken
That lasted over a year
Then came the second
We were friends first
I knew that I liked him, at least
He was more of a game
It wasn’t “I love you”
It was “Can I get you to love me?”
Spoiler: the answer was yes
But I grew bored, because
(as previously stated)
I wasn’t really a great person
It lasted 3 months
At the end of it, I had no regrets
I had won
Why should I regret that?
We were even still friends
I had won
And I even felt the butterflies again
Then there’s the first
The angel of the third grade
It lasted two weeks
I loved him
But I was not in love with him
There really isn’t much else to that story
I flew away, and he was left heartbroken
I told you- I’m not a good person
There were butterflies, but not for him
They were for a situation instead
Then came the fourth
I never felt butterflies with him
It was more like a warm fire at the pit of my stomach, comforting and new all at once
I loved him
I trusted him
And with him, it was never a game
With all the others, I played to win
If I had thought I’d lose, I wouldn’t have played
With him, I thought this was a game I’d lose
But that wasn’t going to stop me
I’d take whatever I could get
I’ll take it
Screw the butterflies
I’ll take the fire
I don’t know how to be a good person and I know I’m not a good person but I want to be but I don’t know how and I’m sorry I’m sorry I make your life more difficult and her life more difficult and all of your lives more difficult I just want to be better I just want to be happy I just want to be not like this I’m sorry that I am this way I’m sorry that I don’t know what to do I’m sorry I’m sorry I just want you to be happy I just want everyone to be happy I just want to not exist I wish none of you had ever met me your lives would be better for it I just make you guys deal with things you shouldn’t have to I just make your lives more difficult why should I even exist I just make everything worse I’m sorry I wish I didn’t exist I wish I didn’t have to bother you guys I wish I wasn’t like this I’m sorry I wish I’m sorry I wish I knew how to change I wish I didn’t have to be like this I’m sorry I wish I didn’t have to be sorry all the time.
It’s not that I want to kill myself. It’s just that I don’t think I deserve to exist.
You’re never gonna catch me in the middle of a breakdown
Never gonna be the ones to pick up the pieces
My breakdowns are not loud
They’re silent, behind closed doors
Only little things slip through
Little things that you notice, but that you think are just the beginning
I’m drowning, only no one notices because I’m pretending I can swim
I need something
I need someone
I will never ask for help
I need you to notice, to understand, to know when I need you
But I can’t ask for help
I don’t know how to ask for help
And you can’t ask me if I’m fine
“I’m always fine”
I’m always fine
I’m never fine
I barely even know what being fine means anymore
I’m walking the thin line between fine and not
I’m in the DMZ, the no man’s land
I need to find my way back, but I’m lost
On the edge of a breakdown
I want to die. Only a little bit, but still. I want to die sometimes. I’m not suicidal anymore. I haven’t been in a couple years now.
But sometimes. Sometimes I wish a car would hit me. Sometimes I wish someone would shoot me. I don’t want to kill myself. But I also don’t want to exist anymore.
Existing hurts. It’s rough, in ways that cut you deep and leave marks you can’t erase. And I’m not sure how many more hits I can take.
People tell me I’m strong.
People tell me I’m weak.
I just feel tired.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy parts of life. I do. But I’m just so tired, and everything hurts, and I’m afraid. And I don’t know how or when or why it happens and how to make it stop. I’m scarred and scared and I just want all the noises to stop.
I’m not suicidal.
But I would not defend myself if someone tried to kill me.
I’m not suicidal.
But I don’t look before I walk into a street.
I’m not suicidal.
But that’s only because I can’t own up to my own emotions. That’s only because my desire to not exist is not stronger than my fears.
I have what I call passive suicidal thoughts. I just want to die, but I’d never do anything about it. I’m not really “at-risk”. I just apathetically want to die.
I want to die.
But I’d never kill myself.
I just want to stop existing. Or at least stop existing as I currently exist.
I feel like I’m annoying. I make everyone else’s lives more difficult- cause other problems in people’s lives. I feel like people’s lives would have been easier if I didn’t exist. But I’m not gonna do anything about it, because I’m selfish and tired and even when I want to die I still care about my friends, who for some bizarre reason do not see how much better their lives would be without me.
How much easier it’d be.
I see it. It’s like a reverse It’s a Wonderful Life, where I see how much better it’d be without me instead of how much worse.
But they’d miss me. So I don’t want to kill myself.
I wish I could just stop existing instead. But that’s not how it actually works.
So I just want to die.
In a non-suicidal sort of way.
Don’t care about people. Don’t ever care.
When you care, they will hurt you. Not on purpose. It’s not their fault. But they will, anyway.
So anxiety invades every aspect of my life. It’s pervasive, it never leaves me.
Except when it does. See, that’s what I liked so much about my friends and living out here. When it was just us three, in our room, sometimes the anxiety would just seep out. Sometimes, for the briefest of moments, I could just exist, with no anxiety.
That’s gone now.
The problem with conflict is I will always think of it. Always remember it. It’ll stick with me in ways it doesn’t stick with other people.
And this. This wasn’t just anxiety. This was- this is- fear. Fear that my carefully constructed world, life, family, is all gonna just fall down around me and I’m gonna be left alone. Fear that there are reconcilable differences and I’m gonna have to choose, or go between, or something, and I just. Can’t. I’m too tired. I don’t have a lot to offer, and I know that, but I just want to be allowed this. I want to not lose this.
I might lose this.
I’m not sure I can survive that again.
And when I think of it, I’m anxious. So now, I can never exist without anxiety. No matter what we’re doing, I will have a little bit of anxiety, just below the surface, that’ll remind me of what could happen, that my carefully constructed life could all just disappear.
I will always have anxiety now.
I’m used to this. This is how I existed in high school.
(I also wanted to kill myself in high school, so it’s not like that’s a great place to compare my life to.)
But still. It’s not like I’m planning on killing my self now. It’s just.
It’s just that now there’s one place on the entire goddamn planet where I can go and not feel anxiety, only it’s the Bean in Millenium Park in Chicago and that’s not really somewhere I can just exist.
It’s just that now I’m almost excited for summer, something I was previously dreading, because my level of anxiety is gonna be the same anyway since it’s not like I’m sure people even like me right now.
It’s just that I hate myself, a little bit, again, because I know that this is my fault.
It’s just that I hate life, a little bit, because this is just par for the course with everything else that happens in my life.
It’s just that I’m tired. Emotionally tired.
It’s just that I want to not be like this.