DEAR ASSHOLE

: A tribute to a very unsightly monstrosity that came in the form of a very sightly man

In this story the asshole is referring to A. a man I was once romantically involved with B. a guy who would do whatever possible to bring my self worth down to better his C. a scumbag trash monster D. all of the above.

Answer: D.

This story doesn’t even have a tangible beginning. It truly began when everyone I loved and cared about kept telling me to “stay away from him,” “he’s kinda a tool,” “I really don’t see this ending well.” So needless to say if we had stayed together, which we are not, and will never, our love story to our kids would’ve been really fucked up; the stuff of romantic comedy nightmares.

“Well Mommy and Daddy met because everyone told me that I should definitely not talk to him and that he probably wasn’t a real stable partner. But I was in my mid 20’s and wasn’t seeing enough excitement during my 9–5 office routine; so I decided against everyone’s best judgement to pursue more drama in my personal love life and the rest has been a horrible roller coaster ride ever since.”

We’d never even been fully “on” in a romantic relationship sense. At best we had a handful of months with only breaking up once or twice, nothing ever less than that. Regardless, he would say our love and our involvement was serious and the stuff of beautiful fairy tales, so I guess I just adjusted my brain set to believe that as well. I kept telling myself that the crazier the love involvement we have with one another the more thrilling and exciting our lives are together. This little white lie became so enormous in my head that it had morphed itself into something I deeply wanted to believe in, it became the truth; to me.

I started to live in the moments between his angry arguments and threatening text messages. I lived to avoid those moments as much as possible and found the easiest way to accomplish that was to just become numb, lifeless. In public settings I would sit there, still, unflinching so as to not warrant anyone to come up and speak to me, so as to not throw him into a temper tantrum spiral of rage. I told myself this was how mature love was; we adjust our souls to bend and twist to fit and mesh perfectly with our significant other. Typing this out now makes my eyes water a little; to think I had been this mentally abused to want to change myself into something/one so much less vibrant, bright, and beautiful than I actually am.

He would end our relationship multiple times a week sometimes a day, via text or phone call or in person. He would just get up and walk out of my apartment when old bitter memories we had had together resurfaced in his mind; he would leave me high and dry all the time. I was being repeatedly heart broken over and over again, to the point where maybe I just grew to expect it, and could build up a kind a defense wall. Much like an orange has a strong sturdy peel to protect it’s inner sweetness I too gained a kind of peel around my center. It was subtle but I knew I needed to keep my feelings for him at arms reach just to protect myself from his mood swings. But every time we had one good day that all went out the window. I internally peeled my heart leaving it open and vulnerable; assuring myself that this is how life with him can be. It can be all smiles and laughs and hugs; but that sensation never lasted for long. Something would always happen, my heart would always break, the need to reform a protective layer always came back.

Every time we got back together despite my mother, sister, friends, cousins, coworkers I would tell myself “it is different this time;” and every time it wasn’t. It eventually got to the point where I couldn’t even tell my loved ones our relationship status because it was too up and down high and low all the time. It was roller coaster and I eventually wouldn’t allow anyone to come along on it but me. I didn’t want them to see what I was doing to myself, like a strange form of self abuse; every time I took him back. I had to hide the hurt or the joy from everyone, to be fair it was mostly hurt. I couldn’t turn to anyone because I already knew what they would say, “I think you need to end things for real,” or “how many times are you guys going to keep doing this?”

I would tell my mind that I’ll just stick with him a couple more weeks and then find the strength to cut the umbilical chord. I would tell my mind that I am not strong enough to be alone and single again; I cannot handle the pressure of being with myself and not having another bodily distraction a cell phone call away. I think I stayed for so long because I was too scared of being alone. I feared being alone as the biggest hindrance to my happiness when in reality the biggest hindrance to my happiness was allowing that asshole to permeate back into my life repeatedly.

So if he made me so fuckin’ unhappy why did I continue? Why did and do I continue to not block his number, or block him from all forms of contact through social media outlets? I would always block him from 2 of the 3 platforms (cell phone, facebook, instagram). I always left one open, as if knowing eventually he would contact me again. Every time he did my heart would sprout wings and flutter around my rib cage. I think I kept confusing this with the butterflies one gets with a new crush or an important interview. I put him and his contact up on a pedestal, determining my own self worth on whether or not he would come back. I liked to feel wanted, especially by him.

He was everything my middle school age self dreamed of in a perfect boyfriend. He was strikingly handsome, he had his goofy moments, he skateboarded, and he was strong. I felt protected by him and safe in his arms. I kept imagining that I could change all the grey areas of him, erase them or mold them into more preferable traits in his character. But you can’t change a person, you especially can’t change a person’s qualities that they themselves don’t even pick up on as flaws.

He would bring up nasty pasts I had with drinking in my early 20’s and remind me, with the subtlety of a punch to the back of the head, how I was a bad person, I was a cheater, I was untrustworthy, I would never find any kind of love in my life. When you keep allowing yourself to get beat up with kind of verbal violence a part of you begins to believe it, which in that sociopath’s mind is exactly what he is hoping to accomplish. Much like every text back I would send him after an ugly fight or every time I convinced myself to take back this toxic relationship into my life; I was just playing his mind game, the exact way he wanted me to play it.

Now, only knowing a little bit better than what I had known before and for the past 10 months of my life; I am scared. I’m not scared of being back with that particular asshole, but I am scared because I have been taught the wrong kind of love for the past year of my life in my mid 20’s. I’m scared I won’t recognize good, respecting, understanding romantic love again.

But in this fright there is hope. I hold onto the unsteady mast of the sailboat in my mind that treks through the unfamiliar territory of being single and being alone. In what at times can feel like a thunderstorm of emotions, of hopelessness, and of depression. I continue to hold steady to my boat, trusting its bearings, and giving faith that my sails are set upon a calmer more clear course soon. I must have this hope that the storm and chaos post-relationship disaster will lead to sun, blue skies, and a refreshing breeze.

I have hope that anyone who understands what I have gone through or anyone that may be going through this now, will hold tight onto hope that they are enough. Do not let anyone dim your vibrant light, do not let a single person doubt the beauty you feel inside your soul; especially if that person is someone you are romantically involved with. I hope this story helps you to understand what a form of toxic love looks like and that you are not alone.

Others have fought this fight and have come out to see the bright blue skies and the sun on their skin once again. I tell you as a person going through the riptide of being on my own again that you will survive, you will come through the other side. Giving yourself patience and valuing your own soul and mind is the most powerful thing you can do, and it is the most precious gift you can give yourself. You must invest in yourself now, not tomorrow, not down the road. Do it now and in a year you will look back and be better for it. It is no longer acceptable to be with a person who is trying to control your person or tying to manipulate what you think of as love. Trust your gut. Start today.

May today be the beautiful start of a life you are proud of and love to lead.