Case of the Ex

*sigh* I knew this post was inevitable. No matter how much I have avoided it until now. I’ve always been closed off and guarded. It takes me a long time to be comfortable with someone and open up emotionally to them. One of my biggest fears is for me to give someone everything that I am, only to have them turn around and destroy me because I have given them the power to be able to do that to me. Maybe all of this will give a small insight into who I am and to help you all understand me a little better.

Even though I don’t want to think about the ex and want to very much pretend like he doesn’t still affect me sometimes, I have to face the truth and admit that he does. We met in law school and he was completely unlike anyone I had ever dated. Up until that point, my “type” was a tall, bearded, tatted, hulk-shaped fuck boy (if I can put it in a succinct way). the ex was the complete opposite. He chased me very aggressively for a few months before I even gave him my number. When he finally convinced me to go out with him, I thought to myself that I should have an open mind because my track record with my usual type had been horrendous thus far. He was respectful, educated and seemed so down to earth. I introduced him to family almost immediately. Very early on in the relationship, my gut told me something wasn’t right. Me being the genius that I am, chose to ignore those feelings.

I could write for hours about all of the ways he broke me. It’s not something I want to get into but to summarize: I was with the ex for 2.5 years, during which I experienced severe verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual and financial abuse. I consider myself a very strong person and I am deeply ashamed of how weak I was when I was with him. I stayed in the relationship way longer than I should have because I didn’t think leaving was an option. I don’t have very many regrets in my life (nor do I think one should have regrets – everything is meant to teach you a lesson) but if I could go back in my life, I would certainly go back to change my decisions when it came to the ex. I would be stronger, smarter, wiser, etc. Anyways, finally getting myself out of that toxic relationship took everything I had. Dealing with the aftermath and repercussions of severing ties continues to be a constant battle.

2015 was the worst year of my life. I not only had to deal with ending my relationship (and his refusal to accept this fact), I lost a family member that I was extremely close with. 6 weeks after the death, one of my parents was diagnosed with cancer. This all happened early on in the year so the rest of 2015 was essentially spent making it through life one day at a time – trying to hold together my broken pieces, be there to grieve with my family and take care of my house while my parent went through treatment. On top of this, I still had real life to deal with: I had a full time job and I was studying for my equivalency exams. I think back sometimes and honestly don’t know how I made it through that year. All of us are on the other side, stronger than ever. So I guess I appreciate 2015 for the strength and resilience it gave me. It took about 2.5 years  (with the help of a ton of counselling) before I thought I was ready to get back into the dating world.

I had been talking to this guy a few months ago. Everything was fine until one night when he got drunk and went off on me. He said I was too princess-y, had to change x,y,z about myself, didn’t like a,b,c, about me, provided a thorough critique on my body, attacked my family members (people he had never met before and had only heard me mention), and it goes on. I have spent countless hours in therapy dealing with my issues with the ex but unbeknownst to me, apparently I still have a ton more work to do.

I distinctly remember going numb during the conversation with this guy. He was drunk but the things he was saying triggered me in a way I didn’t even realize I was capable of feeling. Even as I am writing this now, I feel an intense pressure in my chest and my anxiety is through the roof. I remember vivid flashbacks to feelings when I was with the ex. It was like every hurtful thing the ex ever said or did to me all came rushing back two-fold. All of those feelings I had spent so long conquering and overcoming were back with a vengeance. It took one drunken phone call to undo all of my progress made over the last few years.

Funny isn’t it? You don’t realize how weak you still are until the wind gets knocked out of you. 

So, it’s pretty much safe to say that after this conversation, I panicked. I am terrified of putting myself in a position where someone could ever break me again. All my walls went back up and I once again feel like a guarded fortress of solitude.

That’s why I am wasting so much time with Mr. Bumble and Mr. Wonderful. We all know it isn’t going anywhere with either of them but it’s safe. I can have this no-strings-attached type of relationship with them and even if we are playing games, I am not investing my feelings. I can’t get hurt if there are no expectations or feelings, right?

I was talking to Mr. Mystery Man last night on the phone. Since this whole incident, I have taken a significant emotional step back. Not because of anything he has done but just because I don’t think I’m in the right mindset to trust someone right now. He made a comment “I’m trying so hard to show you I care. What is wrong with you that you can’t let me?” 

I held it together for the remainder of our conversation. The second we hung up, I bawled. For a long time. Mostly I felt shitty, almost like a lesser human for being so damaged. But, the release of tears was oddly cathartic.

I firmly believe everything happens for a reason and therefore, everything that happened with the ex was for a purpose. I know a big part of it was to teach me a lesson in trusting my gut in a situation and walking away the second I know I should. I also learned my own value, worth and breaking point. I learned that I am a strong, resilient person and how incredibly supportive my support system is. Some lessons are still playing out (yes, 2.5 years later) that I have yet to understand. The best I can do right now is recognize my own destructive tendencies and work towards changing those into healthy and appropriate responses.

 

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