For the greater part of tonight, I’ve been deleting photos and screenshots from my phone and crying. And I don’t understand why really, so this is my attempt to process whatever it is I’m feeling.

In April, I ended an 18-month long relationship — short in the grand scheme of things, but it was intense and emotional always. We loved hard and fought hard. There were so many complicated aspects but at the core, I truly believe we loved each other. But he was, I see now, incredibly emotionally abusive. He was the king of gas-lighting — always made me think I was the cause of our problems, that I was crazy… in the end, I felt I’d lost touch with who I was before our relationship started. I defended him (and my decision to stick it out) to everyone who knew the real issues at hand. I must have done it so long I made myself believe what I was saying…

Finally I couldn’t stand the person he’d –what’s the right word here– made? forced? enabled? me to become. I questioned my gut and intuition at every decision, even unrelated to the relationship. I just felt like a faded out version of myself, and I hated that I had let myself get to that point. I honestly don’t remember what happened to make me bite the bullet, but one day I sat in an empty parking lot and sobbed, calling him and ending things. It was the hardest end to a relationship I’ve experienced, and I quite honestly cried for days. I was a mess, and there was little to console me. I felt like a limb had been cut off… and that’s when I realized that while I felt incomplete without him, I knew without a doubt that his life went on without a hitch. If I was feeling dismemberment, he was feeling a stubbed toe or perhaps a papercut. That realization may have been the biggest catalyst in getting over things.

Fast forward to now — I’m seeing an incredible man who treats me right in all the ways he can. We are intellectually connected on a level I’ve never experienced. I told my mother within the first week of meeting him that this was the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with.

And yet tonight, in deleting photos and screenshots of conversations from the past two years on my phone, I find myself in tears over the abusive man again. I KNOW he is bad for me, he is toxic to my life… but I can’t help but miss him on a visceral level. I want to be over him, but I find myself supremely tempted to contact him, to tell him about all the changes in my life, to see if he misses me and thinks of me… I know this is stupid. Honestly, kind of dangerous in some aspects. And so here I write, instead of messaging him.

I think that I just invested so much into that relationship that part of me feels so shitty about ending it. I’ve always wondered if I had just stuck it out, tried a little harder…what if we were meant to be together? But then I remember the man I’m with now, and how drastically my life has changed since leaving that abusive relationship. I want to be over him entirely, but when you love someone so much… even their abuse feels like love, apparently. I feel embarrassed at what baggage I now bring to this new relationship. I find myself walking on eggshells often even though there is no need — he has even allayed some of my fears outright without knowing where they come from. He is incredible. I think I owe it to him, and perhaps to myself, to have a very honest conversation about why I behave oddly sometimes. I know he’d understand… and I can only hope it would make our relationship stronger.

So maybe that’s what I’ll take out of this: Without experiencing the emotional abuse, I wouldn’t appreciate goodness when it presented itself to me. I wouldn’t know just how precious this new relationship is without having experienced the pain of the last. Perhaps I can take the shit of the past and use it to grow something new and beautiful…


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