Four and a half years ago I met the man I will one day soon call my husband. We’re actively making plans to make the most important commitment two people can make to one another. Next October we’ll make it official in front of the people closest to us, and honestly, if I could do it today, I probably would. He is my everything, my reason for getting up every morning. Even if we have a bad day, we can always rely on the other to be there the next morning.
The same couldn’t be said for my first real relationship. Every time we would argue, he would threaten to break up with me. If we did break up (or take a “break,” as he liked to call it), I would always be the one begging him to come back, which usually consisted of 2-3 weeks of me bending over backwards to make him feel like I was committed to the relationship. I see the irony now, considering he was the one with massive commitment issues, but at the time, all I felt was that I was the one with problems, not him.
After that, I would walk on egg shells for a few months, only to have it blow up in my face when I expressed anything he considered to be “negative” feelings about our relationship. This happened so many times I’ve lost count of the number of times we broke up/got back together. Our mutual “friends” would almost always take his side, saying I was the one with the problem, that I was being too sensitive and needy, and that I needed to back off. Which was probably all true. I have a very bad habit of clinging tighter when I think someone is slipping away from me, but the fact that they saw nothing wrong with his emotional black mail and even ENCOURAGED it was the nail in the coffin as far as our friendships were concerned. Oh and their sleeping with him. That definitely didn’t help, but that is beside the point.
Its taken me all these years to finally figure out what the big difference between my two major relationships were. With Joe, I feel needed, like it would cause him physical, mental, and emotional pain to lose me. With my ex, I didn’t feel needed or appreciated. I was arm candy that could be disposed of if I got too difficult to deal with. After I found out he was gay, I finally realized that is exactly what I was. How could someone think he was gay if he had a girlfriend, right? His family never even suspected, not even his twin brother. When they found out it was as if the world had stopped turning. His suicide paled in comparison to finding out he was gay. It made me realize why he worked so hard to hide it from them, he knew he would lose everything if they knew.
But it still didn’t make what he did to me okay. He could have trusted me with the truth, and I probably would have helped him. Would I have been angry at being lied to? Absolutely. But I loved him, and I wanted what was best for him. If that couldn’t be me, then I would have helped him get to where he needed to be to be happy, even if that meant hiding who he was from his family. I deserved better. He deserved to be happy. Neither one of us acted honestly in our relationship, and it cost the world one of its best people.
I couldn’t have realized all this until I met Joe though. Before I was bitter. I felt wronged, and no amount of pointing out my failings in our relationship made me realize that I was partially at fault for the way it ended. Our friends and his family, as well as his actions were definitely the bulk of the problems, but I should have stood up for myself and walked away long before I actually did instead of begging him to take me back more times than I care to remember. I should have realized that he never loved me the way I loved him, and I was fighting a losing battle trying to keep him.
I can’t write this without adding that my ex helped me become the person I am today. I’m stronger. I realize that my feelings are valid, and its okay to feel the way I do. By making me feel worthless and unneeded, he helped me realize that I was worth something to a lot of people, and they needed me more than anything in this world. While I still have lingering issues from the way he treated me, 95% of the time I’m a confident, happy person that realizes her worth in this world, and I can only thank my ex for that.