For some reason, this week has been a week for reflection. In particular one damaging relationship I had when I was 19. I had met this guy who was 27 and who was a close friend of my cousin. We met at party and it just so happened that the cafe he owned was across the road from where I was working while attending university.
On the night of the party, he asked me to come into his cafe on my lunch break and so I did. From that day I felt that we had a connection and I felt that I was attracted to him. My visits became regular and we started seeing each other more often. Since I was 10 years of age, my parents always told me to be honest and forthcoming with them, especially when it came to boys. So the time came to tell my parents that I was in a relationship with this person.
Mum and dad didn’t respond well at all. They had heard of his bad boy reputation and they made it very clear that they did not want me involved with him at all. But of course I thought I was in love and I pretty much begged my parents to let him come over and rather then make a judgement based on other peoples opinions, I wanted them to make a judgement for themselves.
The first time he came over my parents were impressed by his mannerism, the respect he showed and how easy he was to talk to. My younger brother was far from impressed and told Me immediately. I was blinded by love and I felt protected, safe and loved. What more could I ask for?
Three months into our relationship things began to change. First it would be comments like ‘why are you wearing a short skirt? Only prostitutes wear those’. So my skirts became longer. ‘Why are you wearing such bright colours?, That is not classy at all’. So I began to wear black only. ‘Your too skinny, you need to eat more’. So I began to eat whatever he asked me to. Then came ‘You don’t need your friends, you have me’. So I began to ignore my friends and eventually I was not even allowed to answer their calls without his consent. I interacted less with my family and I became so distant from everyone and I would barely utter a word.
This relationship went on for a year and a half and for a year and a half I was drowning in self hate, fear and embarrassment. On the outside my life looked like a picture of bliss. Everybody thought I was happy, in love and had an amazing life with an amazing guy. Little did anybody know that I was screaming for help and I had never felt so depressed and lost in my entire life. I had lost all support around me. I no longer had friends and I couldn’t go to family as I thought they would say ‘I told you so’. I had fainted several times at work and when the ambulance would be called, I was told it was stress and anxiety. I no longer recognised myself when I looked in the mirror.
Then came a day where he had asked me to call him at 9:15pm. I was laying in bed after a shower and just happened to dose off. I woke up suddenly and looked at the time frantically….it was 9:16pm. I called him and he could sense the fear in my voice. He called me hurtful names and was adamant that because I didn’t call at 9:15pm as asked I didn’t care about him or our relationship. He hung up on me and would not pick up his phone despite my numerous efforts to speak to him and ‘fix’ what I had done.
Mum entered my room. She looked at me as I sat there crying and she cried with me. She turned to me and said you have to leave him. Look at you. I don’t even know you anymore. You are not the daughter I know and love. I looked at her said ‘you are right. I know what I have to do. I’m going to leave him’. Mum gazed at me with some hope, hugged me and walked out of my room.
The next day, he came to pick me up to talk about the incident that happened the night before. I told my parents that I was going to break up with him and not to worry about me. I jumped in his car and off we drove. I turned to him and said ‘I just can’t do this anymore. I can’t be with you anymore’. I couldn’t believe I had the courage to say those words. In an instant he turned into a monster. He began yelling at me and making me feel guilty for giving up and not fighting for our relationship. He then went from angry to outraged. He began to threaten me and when I tried to get out of the car he put me back in and locked the car. As I screamed for help he covered my mouth with his hand. I kept crying and begging for him to take me home and he wouldn’t.
After and hour of begging and crying and screaming for help he drove me home. No one was home and I didn’t have the key to the house. So we sat there waiting and waiting for my parents or brother to come home. Forty five minutes passed and that entire time he was begging me to give him another chance. After hearing the begging for that long something inside me was thinking maybe I should give him another chance. He has never been so sorry and forthcoming before. Maybe I do mean something to him. Maybe I was making a rash decision. As I was thinking this I hear the words come out of my mouth… ‘Ok, I will give you….’
Knock, knock….knock, knock. That is what I hear on the car window. I turn and my brother who happened to be driving past home with his mate had see our car parked and wanted to see if we were ok. I looked at my brother and said ‘I’m ok’. He says ‘cool, I’ll be home soon, I’ll see you later’. I look at my boyfriend and he says to me ‘what were you going to say?’ I said ‘nothing…we are over. I can’t do this anymore’.
God was definitely looking out for me that night and gave me a second chance that second my brother knocked on my window. Shortly after my parents arrived home. We both got out of the car and I told my parents our relationship was over. I broke down, ran inside and left my parents standing outside with my ex-boyfriend.
Mum and dad walked in the house and saw me sobbing hysterically on the couch. My dad got down on his knees, kissed my hand and said ‘thank god I have my daughter back’.
I spent years after ending this relationship blaming myself and calling myself stupid for allowing someone who I thought loved me treat me like this. It wasn’t until I heard the saying ‘when you know better, you do better’ that I was able to let go of the blame I was putting on myself, the guilt I felt towards my family and friends and the regret I had for entering this relationship in the beginning.
I now see what happened to me as a second chance at life. I knew if I had stayed in that relationship, I would’ve ended up dead. The things I have learnt from this experience is;
– I won’t hold myself hostage to my past
– I was foolish, but I was given a second chance
– it’s never too late to change and repair the damage that has been caused
– when I blocked out my family and friends, it was a result of the pain I was going through not a reflection of who I really was
– my life is my responsibility and mine only
– what matters to me is now, the present
– I have accepted what happened, I have forgiven, I am at peace and I have let go
– I look at this relationship as an experience, not a regret
– I am a better person, more focused and stronger because of this relationship
If you have anything in your life that you have been through and you continuously punish yourself for it or have kept it a secret you need to stop. Stop and remember that you can’t change the past. You did what you did because that’s what you knew then. You are not the same person today because you have grown and you now know better. Let go, be free and live in the moment.