It was a quiet morning a few days after we broke up that he burst into my apartment insisting to talk with me. I did not want to. I had been sleeping, and I was naked. He came over to the side of my bed and crouched next to me.
Then, he saw the hickey on my neck.
His nice-guy demeanor changed quickly. He demanded to know where I had gotten it, trying to pull my comforter close to him. I'm a pretty small woman and that tug of war certainly wasn't a fair fight. I couldn't struggle against him back anymore. My voice lowered.
It was from our roommate.
Which, evidently, was not his business. None of it was. Not seeing me naked that morning and certainly not barging into the house that was now mine.
He screamed at me in a way I had heard before but wrote off each time. It was pure anger. He told me I was a whore. That our roommate was a pig. He threatened to beat him up until I started screaming for him to leave.
Go away. You aren't welcome here.
Before that, I was truly excited to finally go pave my own path after being in a bad place for so long. I was happy for him, too. I hoped he could find peace somewhere else.
It wasn't three days later that I had gotten news that he had spread stories to everyone we knew. I was now the town slut who couldn't keep her legs closed for one day. The maneater, the friend-stealer.
I was abusive, toxic, and an irredeemable sinner for the rest of my life.
I wasn't my own person suddenly, and the narrative wasn't mine. What was I to do?
I had plenty of my own stories to slug back with. The truth was, I wasn't a victim, but neither was he. We were far from victims because we both contributed to the hole we dug ourselves into unknowingly. It was sad and toxic. We both spiraled but clung to each other.
I was afraid of leaving because he was all I had ever known. We were always depressed, feeding off each others' negative energy. I was a little shocked about how I was dragged through the mud.
If he had honestly been through what we had gone through, why had he painted me to be the villain?
Why did everything suddenly erase from his mind?
Yet, I didn't want to keep tallies. I felt it was the adult thing to do to just write it off and move on. We could've gone head to head forever, calling each other out on what had contributed to our breakup, so I kept my head underwater, wondering what those friends thought of me now that he had spun stories that weren't true and twisted.
In the weeks after, he had contacted me on and off, hot and cold. Sometimes, he would wish me luck with life. Sometimes, he would call me a horrible person.
What really shook me were these three statements:
- I was just like my mother. (My mother is a drug addict who verbally abused me my whole life).
- I was not a strong woman. (I had written a piece of poetry called "Strong Woman" in direct response to being sexually assaulted at my workplace.)
- He told me I had no good left in me.
He knew how bad those words would hurt me. It was heartbreaking to have such low blows swung at me with no one to tell — without stooping to a level I did not wish to be on.
I would cry thinking about it.
I couldn't help but wonder why it was fair to have to quietly deal with what he had said when he played a victim, writing off everything he's ever done.
Why did I have to be the bigger person?
I still had to deal with healing what had been broken. He used to look back on photos when I weighed 20 pounds less and tell me he missed those days — missed what we used to look like. He was constantly commenting on other women's looks, even going so far as to tell me a girl at a register was "his type."
She looked nothing like me.
He even commented on his friends. He had told me his best girlfriend would be attractive if her forehead wasn't so big. From the very start of our relationship, while I was still 17, he made it clear he could never be with just one woman if we planned to be together for the rest of our lives.
It made me insecure and suspicious. I really felt like a controlling, crazy girlfriend most of the time. What I didn't know was that the jealousy was justified.
Why couldn't I tell someone some of these things?
Why did I have to keep this all in to be the bigger person?
It was sad and cold knowing the person that I had loved for years, regardless of what happened, wouldn't own up to what had happened between us.
Again and again, I thought about what everyone must've thought about me. They were still his friends, so it must've been a question, at best, in their mind — was she really just a fake personality all along?
My happiness in being able to start fresh was stalled. With one swoop, the people around me had to question me.
Was I toxic and horrible?
I still didn't open my mouth. What was the use anyway, throwing grenades back and forth?
Was it fair to be reduced to a Jezebel — horrible because I am a person who enjoys sex?
Because he thought I shouldn't have had it so soon after we had broken up?
Because I wanted to do what I wanted to, with nothing to do with him?
I knew speaking up could mean undermining my own feelings. I knew anything I said could be easily twisted, the same way he twisted who I was in his head again and again. I even feared writing this, knowing all of it could be thrown aside with a few words.
Is it fair?
It's not fair.
I wanted to move on, and he made that so much harder. He still does.
Yet, for some reason, I still hope he's happy.
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