Our relationship lasted for a drama-filled four months.
Our break-up lasted almost a year after that.
And both phases were absolutely terrible.
The drama-filled relationship was a product of an emotionally broken young man trying to wring fulfillment from a very naive and headstrong young girl. His past was filled with drug abuse, family turmoil, and discarded relationships. My past was filled with church, chaste kisses, and one boyfriend whom I promptly dumped when I met a different boy at summer camp. What started as a fun crush quickly developed into a controlling, emotionally abusive trainwreck. He used long talks and arguments about our relationship to keep me from my friends, used anger and tears to persuade me to do whatever he wanted, and oh lord, let's not even talk about when he dropped the "L" word, and I couldn't say it back.
(Well, really, I refused to say it back. My one--though I didn't know it at the time--giant f-you to the dude).
So then one day, I finally grew brave enough to break things off. And oh, that was painful. He pushed every button he could think of, was cruel, he cried, pleaded, and threatened. It was awful. Not only had I never been treated or spoken to that way, I'd never guessed that's how a break-up could be.
And of course, the next day he wanted to "talk." Again, since I was but a young girl of barely 18 (hot), I didn't know then that he was again trying to manipulate me, and I thought I "owed" him a talk since I had clearly broken his heart.
He was calm, steady. Apologized for his behavior. Explained that of course, he still wanted to be friends.
And because I still felt bad, I let him back in.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Over the next year of awfulness, I slowly learned several valuable lessons, but it wasn't until I finally got the guts to really cut him out of my life that I realized what they were...
- I am not responsible for the actions of anyone else.
- Pain in a break-up does not necessarily equate depth of love.
- Guilt itself is not a reason to be kind.
And on that note...stay tuned for Thursday's post where I flesh these lessons out.