The hardest lessons in life begin peacefully, without any sign of danger. That’s why I never recognized you as someone toxic. You were the closest thing to perfection when we first met. You moved mountains and walked on water just to make me happy. It felt like you were too good to be true and as it turns out, you were.
That perfect beginning was just a tool you used to keep me under your command. You were nothing more than an emotional manipulator that I couldn’t recognize until it was too late. I guess that’s why emotional manipulation is so powerful and destructive, as you don’t know you are a victim. You think of it as something normal because you can’t believe that someone would be capable of using your love against you.
Now that I look back, I can clearly see the pattern. You hung on to every word I ever said. You listened attentively and I felt so lucky that I had someone who cared so much that he was interested in every aspect of my life. I had no clue that words were your weapon of choice. You knew just the right way to twist my every word so it suited you.
You would use words to provoke that sense of guilt in me. Every time I wanted some time for myself, when I wanted to hang out with my friends or go somewhere without you, you wouldn’t say a word or you would act like that was OK with you and every time I had to pay my dues when I would come home because all I got from you was ignorance and the silent treatment. A few weeks after, when we would fight, you would rub all of it in my face, telling me how you always came last and everyone else was more important than me.
Little by little I distanced myself from my friends without me even realizing it. You wanted my full attention. You couldn’t stand that I could have fun without you. However, when it came to you, the rules were different. You could go out whenever you wanted, wherever you wanted. You would come home late smelling of alcohol and even if I wanted to say something it would be pointless as you would shut me down immediately.
You knew exactly what to say and when to say it to make me feel like I was the one to blame. Not just once but in every situation we had ever been in. You were so good at playing the victim that even when you would do something inexcusable I would end up feeling sorry for you.
I felt caged. You trapped me with your manipulations. I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything right without upsetting you. You always made me feel like I wasn’t enough. Like I was beneath you. You preyed on my insecurities. You wrapped insults into jokes. You would always share your ‘wisdom’ with me and give me advice on everything concerning my life.
You always acted like you knew better and everything you said or did was ‘for my own good’. You would bring me down, make me feel worthless and then you would go back to your sweet, loving, protective mode again, just so I could feel blessed for having you in my life.
But you weren’t a blessing, you were more like a curse. The one which I saw no escape from until you walked away from my life and moved on to your next victim. Those were your words, which was also my fault because of reasons that were left unexplained.
I can’t say I was relieved when you were no longer a part of my life. I was crushed and devastated. I thought I had lost the love of my life. I missed you. For the first month or so I couldn’t stop my tears from falling. The tears gradually stopped; I am not sure at which point exactly but there was that moment where the tears cleared my view and I could see you clearly. I could see what a manipulative a**hole you really were.
For the first time in a long time, I felt free, I felt so good. I felt like I could breathe again. It was easy to do that when you weren’t messing with my mind anymore. It felt so good and it gave me the extra strength I needed to regain everything that you took for me.
It took me a long time to find that confidence and self-love you took from me. I finally realized that I am enough and that I should never allow anyone else to treat me like I am less. My mind and my soul are now at peace because I am happy with who I am. I won’t allow anyone to cage me again.
It seems ridiculous to say it now but back then I thought I would never get over you. I thought that the damage you caused was permanent and the pain I felt was incurable. What I failed to see was that even though the scars were still there, I was much stronger than I gave myself credit for.
I was so mad at you for a long, long time. I couldn’t process that someone who had my heart could hurt me so badly. But I am not mad anymore. I finally accepted that this was inevitable. I forgave you. I forgave myself for staying that long and I hardly ever think about you after all this time. You have no power over me or my life anymore.
I’ve finally accepted that things had to go that way so I could learn how to be truly happy. So I could learn what love should never look like. You were not the love of my life, you were the toughest lesson of my life. The one I had no choice but to learn.