The title for this piece isn’t click bait. As dramatic as it may sound, it is also the truth. It’s my truth and my story to share with those who are intrigued.
Though this piece is my story, it is only a fraction of it. My life has had many more moments of failure and excellence to it than just this one. However this is the one I am choosing to share today. And this story started when I was eighteen years old, two months away from graduating high school and I was desperately looking forward to actually starting my life. In those two months, I met Logan (names have been changed) and my whole teenage life flipped oh so dramatically upside down. When we met, it wasn’t love at first sight. It was more like me being a hot mess that this forbidden house party I decided to throw was getting wildly out of control, while he stood there at 6’4” and could fill the doorframe with his body. I believe the first words I spoke to him were something along the lines of “could you block the door so more people don’t walk in?” To which he politely obliged.
Moving forward six months and we were packing boxes to move in together. Logan and I promptly started spending all of our time together after that ridiculous party, months before. He had been my date to prom (begrudgingly) and I had mastered the art of sneaking in and out of my bedroom window, as well as sneaking him in and out. As I write this I am acutely aware of the kind of teenager I am portraying myself to be. Yet the funny thing is, up until I had met Logan, I was a good kid. I had never snuck out of my house, and I had never thrown a teen movie level forbidden party before (or after). I had a great relationship with my mom, I had a good amount of earned trust, we talked openly about most things, including relationships, and I could have a boy over and in my room and it was completely acceptable. Until I met Logan. Logan was three years older than I, had more life experience, and didn’t have the greatest relationship with his parents. He saw this eighteen-year-old girl who respected and slightly feared the wrath of her parents, and he didn’t understand it. Over those initial six months, he spent a good amount of time subtly undermining my relationship with them. Logan wanted me to see things from his perspective and had a difficult time considering my perspective, or my relationships with my family. Of course this resulted in my young and impressionable brain beginning to question my parents and their authority. This resulted in my family seeing red flags with my relationship with Logan, they had a difficult time accepting him or believing that we could work out. Fast forward to one year into the relationship, we are living together and it has been anything but a typical first year romance. We bickered and fought all of the time, almost every day there was something to set us off against each other. Yet the next minute, it would be forgotten (not resolved) and we could claim to love each other more than we had ever experienced before. He proposed to me on Valentine’s Day, a few months before our one-year anniversary. It was a fairy tale proposal; those whom we shared the story with were in awe at the romance of it all. We seemed perfect together to those that did not spend a lot of time with us. To those who knew us well, over months and years we became known as the couple that fought “that’s just how they are” was the phrase most often associated with our relationship. I was amazed how; over time we could lose perspective on the impact of our public bickering to those surrounding us. We were so used to it that we assumed everyone else just handled it like we did. The main problem with all of that fighting was the lack of resolutions once it was over, it somehow was just dropped or the subject was changed after two, five, twenty minutes or an hour of fighting. I don’t have many memories of us talking it through later and resolving the issue. Perhaps it was because the majority of our fights didn’t have solutions. They were personal attacks about behaviour, attitude, fighting style, walking out, lying, breaking promises, lack of sex, lack of time together, messiness, priorities and the list was endless. There didn’t seem to be much left on the other list of what we agreed on.
This was normal. It became our normal and it consumed us. I had never fought this way before. I was raised with a parent that never raised her voice and this new way of life blind-sided me. Logan would fight back by insulting me, or name-calling, or bringing up bad moments from my past that I had confided in him previously on. After the fight was over, he would be right there apologizing and claiming he didn’t mean any of the deep, cutting things he had said. I distinctly remember being confused and disbelieving that someone could say things to that extent and then claim they didn’t mean them. But, to Logan that was the truth. He was raised with a parent whose fighting tactic was to be as hurtful as possible, to say whatever they could to provoke a reaction, regardless of truth.
Over time, I learned to fight this way too. He would attack me for sitting in silence and crying during a fight so I had to switch gears. I felt the need to fight on his level for the sole purpose of self-preservation. Now don’t get me wrong, at this point or at many points throughout this time, you may be screaming internally as to why the hell I didn’t just leave the relationship! I wish that answer could be simple, but alas it is not. There were many times over the four years that I made plans to leave, or would pack a bag and spend the night somewhere else after a particularly bad fight. I spent two weeks away at one point, but I always went back. I eventually stopped complaining to friends and family about my relationship because it wasn’t anything they hadn’t already heard. We were stuck in a perpetual cycle of misery, without completely knowing we were miserable. Logan had made it very clear early on that he would never leave me, that if the relationship were to end, it would have to be me to do it. Now another aspect to this twisted love story was our collective broken-ness. I had been dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts for years before I met Logan. He had been dealing with lying and cheating women, as well as depression for years before he had met me. Together, we silently believed we could “fix” the other. We were cut from the same cloth. We became best friends because we understood each others' pasts, divorced families, difficulty co-existing peacefully with some of them, in addition to mental health struggles and some really rough adolescent years for the both of us. We had each found someone who could relate to our pain at an in depth level, and we believed it also meant we belonged together. We held onto this belief for a long time. Our connection and supposed love for each other, kept me coming back to him after every fight. I was unwaveringly hopeful and naïve, with an ever-constant faith that it would get better. I believed this so thoroughly that we did get married. Maybe I believed that if we were married it would get better. Then I could focus on the wedding instead of the ever constant fighting that ceased to quit even as the wedding date drew closer.
Our wedding was perfect. We had the perfect wedding party that stood by us on that day, most of whom knew the reality of our relationship. Yet they all supported us, regardless of their own opinions. It was the same for our families. They all came and showed their love and support for us, regardless of everything else.
Fast-forward five months from this magical day, and I had the horrifying realization that it was not in fact going to get better. The fighting was never going to stop, we could never “fix” each other, and our brokenness was not something that could be healed by fighting with someone else, even if they understood what made us broken. I had become someone I didn’t recognize. I had become an exceptionally angry twenty-one-year-old woman, and I had no love left to give Logan. It wasn’t a matter of having my heart broken overnight, but over four years instead. I was worn down, I had no hope left that it could get better, and I had no way of figuring out who the hell I was if I stayed in that relationship. So I left. I left for good this time, and it didn’t hurt and it wasn’t difficult. It sounds so cold and disconnected, but it’s the truth too. I didn’t love him anymore, I didn’t love myself anymore either, but I knew above all else that I needed to be able to or I wouldn’t make it. Leaving my marriage, and leaving such a painfully entwined and emotional abusive relationship was the hardest and bravest thing I have ever done. I had never lived on my own before but I knew at this point that it didn’t matter. I could figure it out. And guess what? I did figure it out. I figured out that I had a greatly supportive best friend who helped me more than I could have ever imagined. I figured out that I would be okay being by myself, and I would be okay to spend nights alone. I figured out how to rely on myself to handle bad nights and midnight panic attacks. I figured out how to find creative outlets to help me through some of those times and I figured out what I wanted to make a priority in my life, without someone else’s guilt or shame weighing in. I figured out that I am not, in fact, broken or in need of being fixed, but that I have experiences and stories that connect to make me who I am. And for once, I figured out that at twenty-one-years-old, I was a way stronger young woman than I knew.