I was the girl that never faltered. I never surrendered. I always put up a fight. I embraced my flaws and still managed to be happy. Then I fell in love with a narcissist.
When we first met, it was through some family friends that live here in the states. We began talking online, on the phone, video chats you name it. We talked for a year and four months before we finally met in person.
He was everything I could dream of. He kept me safe, and made me feel as if I were the only girl in the world. For the first month that is. The first month was pure bliss. We stayed up till the early hours of the morning talking, laughing, crying, growing together. And because of the time difference, we developed a routine. He was the first voice I heard when I woke up, and the last voice I heard before bed. He told me he loved me, of course having only talked for such a short time it felt crazy. But it felt right. Then one day, I realized there was a miscommunication between us. He learned that I was a heavy girl, and this hit him hard. He was a thin dude, so the idea of himself next to a big girl didn't settle well with him. We broke up and at that point, I thought, did he really leave me because I'm overweight? There were times that I was unhappy with my weight, not going to lie. But at that point in my life, I had accepted myself for who I was, thinking I would get to where I wanted to be eventually. I cried all night. That was the first night I didn't hear his voice before bed. The next morning I woke up to a few missed calls. My heart started racing. I thought this was just a fight, we would make it work. We reconciled, on one condition. I would lose the weight but I would lose it for "me." Even though he made it clear a second time, that he could not be with someone bigger than himself. He made me believe that he was only sharing his preferences in a partner, all the while presenting a pretty good case, saying that he cared for me and wanted me to be healthy. To take care of myself. To be the best version of myself that I can be. I believed him.
I began to exercise vigorously. I cut out all carbs, sugars and fatty foods. I began a strict military diet. And I woke up every day with a goal in mind. I was going to lose 75 pounds. From that point on, our conversations took an obsessive turn. We only ever talked about my meals. If I ate or overate. What exercises I was doing. I weighed myself more than once a week at times. Fixating on every single pound. Progress pictures were a must. And our video chat calls went from pure bliss and joy to absolute hell. He would ask me to show him my legs and arms to make sure I was slimming in the right places. And because I had cut out all carbs and sugar from my diet, naturally I was breaking out from all the detoxing. Little did I know, this was only the beginning. He slowly but surely became bothered by every pimple, every breakout on my face that I no longer wished to video chat. He went from being the man that turned my world, to the man that made me wish I was never born.
I started going to the dermatologist to find out just why I was breaking out so much. I found out later that it was from dairy (more on that later) but not knowing the cause caused a whirlwind of problems between us. It got to the point where he couldn't look at me. That hurt more than anything. I started using prescribed creams and pills and nothing worked. After losing all the weight, my skin cleared up because I no longer had these toxins in my body. The occasional pimple or two arrived when I had my menstrual cycle each month, which he still did not like.
Right up to this point, you must be thinking what the hell is this girl thinking? That's just it, I wasn't. In my head he was supporting me in becoming the best version of myself that I could be. I couldn't see what the other's were seeing. I couldn't see that this man was only molding me into the woman he wanted me to be, all the while claiming that personality-wise I was the woman of his dreams. When I finally lost the weight, I had a rude awakening. It was far from over. He began to send me pictures of the style he liked. It was convenient enough that I had the same taste, but later down the road I found myself telling him about every item I purchased. If I diffused my hair with mousse it was a bad day for both of us. It was straight hair or nothing and if I curled it he only preferred it done with the curling iron. My hair color was getting old and it was time for a change. I felt great, I felt confident. So I dyed my hair a caramel hombre color. I felt like a new woman on the outside, but on the inside, I was screaming.
Through the year and four months that we'd been talking, we often sent each other gifts with a traveling relative, especially on birthdays and special occasions. He would tell me how proud he was of me and made me promise that I wouldn't let myself go again. He lived with this fear every single day. I had to paint him a picture, that eventually one day if we were to marry and have kids that my body would change again. He made me promise that I would be careful and get rid of the weight after pregnancy. I agreed. We talked about our wedding and how he would ask for me. Being that he was overseas, the idea of getting engaged without my immediate family didn't settle well with me. Our differences in opinion began to arise. We agreed that he would eventually ask for me during my visit but there would be no formal exchange of rings. After all I would only be visiting my relatives for a month and in the meantime getting to know my potential partner. The more time passed, I continued to better myself every day. This became very hard for him to handle. I started getting more attention, I wasn't allowed to hang out with my male friends. He became jealous of the relationships I had with close girlfriends and even my own siblings.
I used to hear the words:
I love you.
Take care of yourself.
I love you for you.
You make me happy.
But by that point in time, all I heard was:
I love you too but I'm scared that you'll break your promise.
You won't gain the weight back right?
What did you eat today?
Haven't you eaten enough?
Where are you going?
How long will you be?
If you do anything wrong I will know.
Why were you talking to him?
You love him don't you?
Do you love her/him more than me?
I am the only one there for you.
Why are you so sensitive?
It's always something with you.
Do they support you as I do?
You always make me yell.
You always make me angry.
You always do this.
You make me this way.
Those are childish dreams.
Why do your photos from a distance look like another person?
Show me your thighs.
Show me your arms.
Show me your face.
Are you going to wear that?
Are you going to fix your hair?
Why can't you be more like her?
My family tells me you beautiful.
I just want you to be beautiful.
I prepared for my trip overseas. When I arrived at the airport, anxiety was overwhelming my entire body. I had never been back home and looked forward to seeing my relatives. Most of all I was anxious and nervous to see him face to face for the first time. No matter what I did, I felt I couldn't make him happy. Would this hell ride be over, and would we go back to the two people that connected emotionally and fell in love over a long distance? Or would it all crash and burn? Somehow I expected both. The first ten days were beautiful. He welcomed me at the airport with roses and brought his family to see me. He ran to me and me to him like a scene out of the movies. Every worry, every thought, every dislike and every red flag disappeared and I melted into his arms thinking we went through a phase. It was the distance and he wanted me to be better. We are here now. Nothing else matters. A day or so later he came to pick me up from my cousin's house. He surprised me with my favorite Starbucks coffee and we drove back to his family's place. We spent our days with his family, out to eat or going to the mall. Everything was perfect. Everything we dreamed of finally became a reality. We could be a normal couple. Go for a walk, a drive, go shopping, hold hands. We even got lost on the way to a restaurant and couldn't stop laughing. It seemed too good to be true. Maybe it was just the distance? We are fine.
We often ask people why they stay in abusive and controlling relationships. But what we fail to realize is, sometimes a person doesn't know they're being abused until they know. I didn't know I was being abused until my ex threatened to kill himself when he felt that I wanted to leave him. He disrespected me in front of his family and spoke to me in such a vulgar way that made my blood boil. And for the first time in a year and four months I raised my voice back. It felt as though the earth shook beneath me. I finally heard my own voice after being silenced for so long. This time around, he was the one lowering his head. What the fuck was I doing here? It was all over something so stupid. I did not want to wear the extensions I had purchased that day. I made the decision to cut my hair before the trip without consulting him. A part of me knew what I was doing. The fact that he liked long hair made me want to chop my hair off. And so I did.
I left him and went to another part of the building. His family followed me out of concern. Meanwhile I heard his brother scolding him. Shortly after he joined us. For some fucking reason, I was still worried about him. I asked them to wait for me and I returned to the apartment to check on him. My stomach was in knots. I walked into the bedroom and saw that the bathroom door had been locked. I patiently waited and he opened the door. He saw me and broke into tears. Naturally I followed him. He apologized for having treated me that way. We sat on the bathroom floor. He cried into my chest. He lifted his head and pointed to a sweater that had been lying nearby. He then told me that he tried to hang himself from the shower head and that when he opened the door he was on his way to get pills. I stared at him in disbelief. I held him in my arms and cried. This man needed me more than ever. I took a deep breath. We stood up and went to the next room. He wrapped his arms around me and we pressed our foreheads together. I kissed him. We freshened up and got ready for the evening. We were to spend the evening at the Boulevard taking pictures with the family by the Christmas tree. We walked off on our own for a while. Lost under the colored lights and magical winter wonderland. He squeezed my hand tight. I felt closer to him than ever.
The big Christmas Party was approaching, and we all decided to head to the mall to go shopping together. I enjoyed spending time with them. I felt like I was one of them like I fit right in. And being that I had met his mother beforehand (she had come to the states to visit her brother who was a close family friend of ours) I felt so at home. When she had visited me, we spent time together so I had gotten used to her presence and loved her very much. After what felt like hours of searching I finally found my dress. I was very excited and pleased when I tried it on, and proud of myself for having made so much progress. We left the store in search of the others, hand in hand. He asked me to show his mother my dress. I remember looking at him puzzled. I simply said that I would rather wait until the party and that they could see the dress on me in person. He felt hurt. He claimed that he wanted me to build a close bond with his mother and that's why he felt I should ask her for her opinion. I didn't understand, being that his mother and I already had a pretty close relationship. After standing my ground, he dropped the subject. But you could cut the tension with a knife.
Christmas day was one of the worst days of my life. He had picked me up early to head to his place to get ready with all the girls. We did each other's hair and makeup etc. We had about an hour's drive til the venue, and by the time we arrived it was close to pm. Parties back home tend to run late into the night. Dinner wasn't served until after 10 pm, the DJ did not start playing until close to 12/1 am. Meanwhile I had been texting my cousin, the cousin I was staying with during my trip. She had asked me what time I would be coming home being that she only had one key to the apartment and had to share it with her husband. After a while of frustrated texting, she and I agreed that I should just stay until it was over and call her when I was home so she could wake up and open the door for me. Little did she know we were in the middle of breaking up. Everything came pouring out of him. He told me he felt disliked by my family members and to him my cousin texted me about my whereabouts was proof of that. He grew impatient and his temper began to rise once again. I felt my face get hot, he was inches away from my face. He lifted his hand and stopped himself at the last minute. I stared at him. He was trembling. My heart sunk to my chest. He only stopped when he realized the others were crowding around us. All I could think was, is this what my life has become? He left me in the lobby and returned to the party. My friend (his sister in law) remained by my side. They called him back downstairs. We went to the garage where the car was to talk in private. I asked him to sit alone in the car to talk it out. He refused. If I had anything to say I could surely say it in front of his brother and sister in law. I began to explain myself but he was not interested. His mind was made up. He then told me that the first month we were together was the only happy time we had and the rest was hell. I stared numbly. I exhaled, and began to remind him just why it was hell. With your manipulator you can expect to win very little arguments. And in this case I couldn't dare to play the victim. In his cold eyes I had done all those things for myself, but had he forgotten the way he treated me? Belittled me? Tormented me? I agreed that it was over. And being that I didn't have a ride I sat in the lobby. My friend convinced me to return to the party being that there were only a few hours left and it would be over soon. After all the area was not safe, especially for a female in a dress at that time of night. A part of me almost called my cousin, I wanted to disappear. Away from there away from him. Reluctantly I stayed. A part of me, and obviously the side that was bat shit crazy at this point, hoped that we could work it out. We always worked it out. Everyone left the table to dance and enjoy the night while he and I sat across from each other. He didn't look at me. He didn't talk to me. He began to delete our photos from his phone right in front of me. When everyone had returned, they began to sing along and clap to the music and he joined them. Pretending not to have a care in the world. And suddenly, he noticed his bracelet. It was a long-distance bracelet I had given him. He took it off and threw it on the table, and continued clapping. I swiftly took mine off and put it away in my purse. I sat there fuming. I felt so embarrassed and felt like I had no control over the situation. I sat there blankly. I felt my hand reaching for my ring, and I slid it off my finger. It was the promise ring he had gotten me for our one year. I handed it to my friend and she held it out in front of him. The clapping slowed down, and he looked at the ring in disbelief. HE was in complete shock and his face turned red. He pushed her hands away and told her to get rid of it. He stared at my heart brokenly. I looked away. We made our way to the garage. I had gotten inside the car and was waiting while they decided who would ride with who. I kept my head down. I caught glimpses of his face through the car window, and suddenly I heard him yell out my name. My heart sunk. Don't do this. My friend called my name again. They opened the car door so I could see him across the way. He extended his hand, and said goodbye and began to sob. I've never felt so much confusion in my entire life. I felt my throat close up, I began to tear up but I was not the emotional type. I covered my face with my hand as the door shut. We pulled away and I watched as he got into the car. On the long drive home, he messaged me saying that he couldn't believe that I had taken off his ring. That I didn't even cry, didn't care and that I had no emotion. It was over. All I knew was I felt like I could finally breathe. The worst was over. Or so I thought. It was only when I left the country, that I realized he really let me walk away. Surely I heard from him again, although not in the ways I had expected. We had become strangers again, and for the first time in a long time I felt happy. I felt free.
Everything I am, all that I've become, is because of how you left. Thank you.