This Is How You Will Heal From An Abusive Relationship


I’ve gone a year and two months without my abusive ex.

On one hand, it feels wonderfully freeing. On the other hand, I’m screaming on the inside and wondering why no one can hear it.

Lately, I’ve had a friend who has been really helpful in pretty much every way. But one of my favorites is when she gives me personalized horoscopes of anyone I ask. She’s like a genie that lives in my phone for the time being, because unfortunately I can’t just jet off to New York in my crappy 2003 Oldsmobile to hang out with her just yet.

But for now, this works, because her zodiac diagnoses of people we know – and don’t know but wish we knew – are somehow healing. Even though it’s astrology – something that probably a large amount of people don’t trust – it reworks everything into a concrete perspective. Tonight she read me off a list of traits of my ex’s according to her tropical zodiac, and with every adjective I had an anecdote or a soul-crushing quote to fire back. One day I hope to scrub those remaining stories clean from my brain, or maybe I’ll turn them into a beautiful book so I can let them go. I think while we were together I looked up the way my zodiac intertwined with my ex’s, and every time I saw “rivals” I just thought “oh, yes, passionate.”

And I guess it was passionate. If you can call screaming, crying, and slamming doors passionate, then I guess that that’s true. I drove home from work tonight and stared down the dark road ahead of me, stared so hard I half expected the pitch black Mosside Boulevard to burst into flames.

I remembered the days, both snowy and skin-melting, when I’d drive with one hand on the wheel and the other on her thigh, and I’d try to force her to talk.

“About what?” she’d ask. I’d sigh.

“Literally anything.”

And then I’d get 20 minutes of radio silence before I started playing The Used over her nothingness. Tonight I gritted my teeth as One Direction harmonized through my speakers and preached of showing a person, and only that person, who you really are and what you really want: “For your eyes only, I’ll show you my heart / For when you’re lonely, and forget who you are.”

And I think that’s what went wrong in my relationship with my ex. Or should I say, one of many, many things that went wrong. Both the singling her out to show myself to and the idea that she was a project I could fix. Listen up, anyone of any gender (or of no gender) reading this: the second you view your significant other as a project, it is time to BACK. OUT. Take steps backwards, even if they’re baby steps at first, and start to look at the big picture. Because no person is your project. You are under no obligation to fix their issues, and what’s more – you cannot fix their issues. That’s why they’re their issues.

In many ways, she’s like a part of me that died. Like a piece was actually carved out of me and smashed in someone’s hands, crushed to ash, and then cradled gently as that someone blew it out the window of a speeding van. It’s out there somewhere, in a million different pieces, but I can never get it back.

And why would I want to? With her, everything was high stakes. It wasn’t “going home for Thanksgiving break,” it was “do you care more about me or your family, because you made it clear that you deal in absolutes?” It wasn’t “what classes are you taking next semester?”, it was “next month, will you still care about me like you only say you do when I say that I feel like you don’t?” I’ll miss those exchanges like I miss getting my cemented-in retainer tightened as a middle schooler.

But guess what I’ve learned? It was never my fault. It was never yours, either. And there’s time to be wasted thinking about whose fault it really was, and at what point everything really crumbled. It’s tough to hear and to say and to think, but all that matters is that it did. It did crumble. And eleven months later, I’m still learning that every day. Heartbreak is devastating, if only because it is such a solitary effort while also being something that billions of people go through. I am both alone and not alone, relieved that it’s over and still feeling the loss of having no one to wake up next to and immediately start defending myself to.

I won’t ever have to do that again. Instead, I’ll have someone(s) who will defend me. Who’ll fight for me. Who’ll hear comments like, “Get over it,” and “Prove that it was abusive,” and “Oh, you’re talking about that again?” and respond with, “It’s not that easy,” and “She doesn’t have to prove anything to you,” and, “She can talk about it whenever she wants.”

But for now, that person has to be me. And so far, if I may say so myself, I’ve done a damn good job of working myself up to that point. I can’t and won’t say I’m there yet. I stopped in the middle of this blog to cry, and probably used up about half of my tissue box. But there’s no shame in that. I’m a human with feelings and there’s nothing wrong with being vulnerable. And as long as I’m helping others on my way to that finish line, I accept this warpath of a journey.