I never understood how people could stay in a toxic relationship. I never understood how people could listen to the people who care about them tell them to remove themselves from the relationship, and still stay. I never understood how someone could love someone who hurt them so badly. I never understood it, until I was doing it.
I’m not proud of the choices I have made. I am not proud of staying in a situation that was unhealthy. I am not proud of crawling back to him every time I tried to walk away. I am not proud of the countless times I refused to listen to the people who love me. I am not proud of any of that.
I am, however, proud of the fact that I survived. I am proud of myself for making it out of that relationship, even if I wasn’t fully intact. I am proud of my heart for being able to want to love, even after the abuse it has endured.
I thought I knew what was good for me. I thought I knew who he was. I justified his actions with phrases like “… but I love him”, “… but he’s never hit me”, “… he’s got a lot of stress on his plate right now.”
I knew none of it was okay, but I wanted to believe I could fix him. I thought that if I loved him enough, he would be able to love me the way I needed him to. But the truth is, he was never going to change for me… or anyone, for that matter.
That’s the thing about narcissists. They don’t change for anybody. They don’t care about anyone but themselves. And it doesn’t matter how much love you give them, how many times you forgive them, or how many times you take them back… they won’t change for you.
I spent a year and a half of my life loving someone who wasn’t capable of loving me back. I loved someone who only used me to boost his ego. I loved someone who used every chance he could to make me feel small. He used my mental illness as a way to belittle me. He used my love for others as a weapon. He took away parts of me that I will never get back.
I thought that losing him would destroy me. But it didn’t. I feel a sense of freedom I haven’t felt in over a year. I feel an independence that he tried so hard to take away from me. Yes, I miss him. Maybe a part of me always will. I loved him with my whole being. But I can clearly see the kind of man he is now. The kind of man I don’t want, or need, in my life.
One day he may wake up with an ache in his chest because he misses me. One day he may text me again, begging for forgiveness. And a part of me hopes that does happen. Not so I can forgive him, but because I want him to feel even a small piece of what he has made me feel.
I wish I had listened to the people who love me. I wish I had walked away long before it got this bad. I wish I had told him to go fuck himself when I had the chance. But here I am. And that’s okay. Because I know I’m going to use this experience to rebuild myself all over again. I will come out of this stronger, braver, and with more love to give than I had before. He can never take that away from me.