I Thought It Was Love, But It Was Actually Abuse

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“Alone doesn’t always mean lonely. Relationship
doesn’t always mean happy. Being alone will never cause as much
loneliness as being in the wrong relationship.”
~Unknown

I don’t know if it’s the conditioning of Disney movies that
makes every young girl dream of finding her Prince Charming, but
that was my experience. My prince entered my life just like that,
saving me from my boredom and taking me on a roller coaster of
excitement. He assured me that our love was going to last forever,
and the naivety of being sixteen made me believe him.

It didn’t take long for his true colors to emerge; sadly, it
took me longer to see them.

I thought the control was over-protectiveness. I thought he
cared when he told me what to wear, who I could associate with, and
where I could go. The Neanderthal behavior must have touched
something primitive in me, and I was overwhelmed with the urge to
please.

Quickly, I went from princess to property. He shouted at
me, berated me, and mentally tortured me. And I thought I was being
loved.

To anyone who has never been in this situation, the words
“run, Forest, run” might come to mind. However, we say this
from an adult perspective, older and wiser. When you’ve been
brainwashed since you were sixteen, it takes more than a quote from
a movie to see sense.

Everything became an argument. Every argument taught me to walk
on eggshells. If I didn’t conform, he would ignore me. If I
refused to listen, he would isolate me. If I cried, he would scream
at me. If I had no emotion, he would play the victim.

I thought I could make him better. I thought he would receive
the love from me that he was lacking elsewhere and that this would
make him change.

I thought wrong.

Nearly fifteen years later, I am the one who holds a lifetime
worth of memories that I can’t forget, and I’ve had to
recondition myself into believing that this is not my fault. No
amount of “what ifs” can change a person’s innate morality.
Mentally and emotionally healthy people do not try to make others
feel unworthy of love and dress it up to be love.

If you asked me to define love, I would tell you it is the
ability to be unselfish. To be willing to put others first and
sacrifice your needs and desires at times. More importantly, love
needs to be reciprocated.

But when I was with my ex, I felt as though I had to
work hard to receive love. I needed to shut myself, my thoughts,
and my feelings down and simply become a doormat, or else he’d
emotionally abandon me.

So, I tried that. I became a “yes” woman. I lost myself in
the world of conformity, and it still wasn’t enough. He accused
me of being unfeeling, emotionless, and devoid of passion. So, I
changed again. I tried to become more like him. I would scream and
shout to try and gain control, and then he called me manipulative
and psychotic.

I tried to combine the two. I tried to be religious. I tried to
be a party-goer. I tried to be dominant. I tried to be
submissive.

Nothing worked.

I cried, begged, and pleaded to be treated like a human. I asked
for compassion but received cruelty. I asked for love and had to be
satisfied with lust. I wanted hope but felt hopeless. Until I
realized that I was asking for something that he was unable to give
me.

A narcissist is incapable of recognizing the needs of another.
He/she cannot fathom that people have emotions, unless they are
used as a method of control. They thrive on the idea that you
believe in them and, rather than granting you equality, they
manipulate you into believing that the scraps they throw you are
the only ones you deserve.

He told me countless times that he loved me, so why have I spent
the last decade and a half repeatedly asking the same question,
“Do you really love me?”

If he loved me, how could he not understand my pain? How could
he be okay with knowing I felt so low? How could he constantly
betray me? Why couldn’t he make the same sacrifices as me? Why
couldn’t he just be the person I first fell in love with?

The answer to those questions is simple: The narcissist
is a multi-faceted creature, a chameleon who adapts to your
weaknesses and uses them to maintain a position of strength.
Because of their personality disorder, they are lacking in the
qualities that make you who you are.

They are determined to keep you in a position of subordination
because this feeds their need to feel superior, and when you fight
to break out of that role, they leave.

They show you good times to ensure that you feel indebted to
them and to make you yearn for them once again. They make up and
break up with you so often that you may find it hard to move on. If
you do, you likely feel distrusting of people, making you an
incomplete partner for a mentally and emotionally healthy human
being.

After a breakup, we often try to make ourselves whole by seeking
another, the biggest mistake we could possibly make. Would you
purchase an item with pieces missing?

It’s a little crude to compare a human being to an object, but
we cannot expect to ‘move on’ if we are seeking to replace the
void left by a narcissist.

Moving on shouldn’t mean jumping into a relationship with
another human. It should mean taking responsibility for why we
stayed in this unhealthy situation, recognizing what needs to be
addressed and healed within ourselves, and moving on mentally from
our trauma.

My trauma originated from never knowing my father. I yearned for
someone who would fulfill the role of a protector. At the
beginning, my ex did. It didn’t matter how many times we argued,
I knew that he would always fight in my corner, and that made me
feel safe. Eventually, the cons outweighed the pros and I knew that
I had to break free.

Now that I’m on my own, I have days when I wake up and
forget that I am no longer in this toxicity, I have days where I
remember the good times, and I have days when I regret laying eyes
on him. However, my days are no longer concerned with how I stand
in relation to him.

I wake up and wonder what I am going to do today. I actively
pursue my dreams of being a writer, or I focus on other ways I can
improve my life. I research my MARs (Masters by research) topic, I
cook the food I like, I wear the clothes that I look good in. Small
victories for some, milestones for a victim of narcissism.

I pray, I meditate, I exercise, and I write. Most importantly,
every day I heal. I take back a part of my life that I lost because
I made the mistake of trusting the wrong person with my heart.

I rebuild the relationships I lost when I gave in to his
attempts to isolate me from my friends and family—because I
didn’t want to argue and because I was ashamed that, for all my
outward strength and intellect, I couldn’t find the courage to
leave.

I cut out the unhealthy influences from my life, and if I
can’t, I distance myself from them. I refuse to regress to the
lost teenage girl and instead, harness the energy of a strong,
powerful, and determined woman. I refuse to conform to the idea
that a woman is “past her sell by date” and reject the notions
of commodifying humans.

I also reconnect with who I am beyond my roles. I’m more than
someone’s mother, daughter, niece, and grandchild. I am a writer.
I am a creator. I am a dreamer.

There is a difference between being alone and lonely. Sometimes
we need to be alone to truly rediscover ourselves. The relationship
between you and yourself is more important than any other.

About Halema Khan

Halema Khan is a freelance writer, proofreader, and copy-editor.
She is also the founder of Proof Is In The
Pudding
. She has a BA(Hons) in English Language and Literature
from University of Leeds and teaches English. She specialises in
writing academic content and lifestyle pieces. Currently, she is
writing her own book where she discusses her journey of
self-discovery.

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Thought It Was Love, But It Was Actually Abuse
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