“Just because I treat you like a princess, doesn’t mean you can act like one.”
“Why don’t you like to run? You should exercise more. It’s good for you. You can at least look happy to run with me because it’s something that I enjoy doing.”
“If you’re happy being with me, then why do you cry so much? You make me feel like I’m abusive.”
“Why do you look so upset when you first see me? I had to get gas, and there was traffic. If you can just look happy to see me when you open the door, then I wouldn’t be so frustrated.”
“I don’t like it when you’re so sassy. It’s kinda rude, and I don’t appreciate it.”
“No, but I do like your sass. Just not a lot of it or all the time.”
“You should be more patient and gentle. Those are things I can work on too.”
“Why did you mix all that in? I know you don’t have as much experience in the kitchen, so why didn’t you just ask me more questions about what to do?”
“When you start crying, you make it all about you. I can’t even get my point in when we’re arguing because you just start crying, and then I have to comfort you.”
How do I unpack all these hurts, this pain? I can’t believe that I accepted everything he told me, internalizing his words and allowing them permission to tear me up from the inside out. I was relieved for the relationship to be over, more than I thought I would be, and I shed a few tears during our final conversation, but I haven’t shed any tears about the breakup since. I haven’t shed any tears for him since.
Perhaps I’m being unfair by sharing the negative things he’s said to me. Perhaps these words, when spoken in their separate instances, shouldn’t be as painful. But the fact is, all these words were absorbed as a collective, dictating how I perceived myself and how I thought he felt about me. Every new statement only etched another painful cut in me. Sometimes he’ll tack on a “I need to work on this too” at the end of his statements, but when have I ever said these any of these hurtful statements to him? He CAN say “I need to work on it too” because the things that he tells me to do or change are not things that he has to be insecure about. He knows I’m insecure about these things, yet he couldn’t find it in him to encourage me in my strengths. Rather, he simply picked at my deficiencies, using them as reasons for his own frustrations. Maybe with time, I’ll be able to remember the good and positive things he’s said to me. But right now, when I think of him, I think of these remarks and comments, the very phrases that contribute to the insecurities and lies I still have to deal with today. The insecurities and lies that I will have to deal with on my own from here on out.
That I cry too much.
That I’m too sassy.
That I’m not fit enough.
That I should at least look happy doing what my significant other likes to do, even if it’s something I’m insecure about.
That I don’t deserve to be comforted or treated like a princess.
That I’m not patient ENOUGH, not gentle ENOUGH.
That I’m not enough.
I am hurting because of the lasting impact of his words that I will have to work hard to unpack, dismiss, and dismantle. I am hurting because I let a part of myself die on the inside to appease him, to work towards the woman that he wanted me to be. I relinquished my own self-esteem to build up his need for dominance, his desire to make me a certain way: his idea of me. I tore myself down to be the supporting character in his story, rather than letting myself shine in my own story. I stepped out of this relationship broken, exhausted, and no longer the strong woman I always thought I was.
I learned a lot about my self-worth. I experienced firsthand the consequences of trying to be someone else for a man who didn’t understand how much he was hurting me. Perhaps he never loved me for who I was; perhaps he loved me for the woman he wanted me to become, the woman that I was slowly becoming for him. Little did I know, every two weeks that I shed tears during an argument, I was also shedding my confidence, my strong will, and my independence. I let him in, inviting him to peel back the wallpaper, break down the furniture of the home in my heart and utterly destroy my sense of security.
How do I build myself up again?
I don’t want to throw a pity party, but I also don’t want to undermine the effect that his words have had on me. As someone who thrives on words and reads into things way too deeply, I’ve dwelled on his statements, repeated them to myself, and questioned whether I had the right to be upset about them. WHY did I doubt my own feelings, the way my throat seemed to twist, the way my stomach churned, and the way I refused to form the words of retaliation to tell him, “Hey, that’s not nice.” I just sat still, letting him belittle me, allowing him to reprimand me as a child.
But I’ll be okay. I’ll just build myself up again.
Step by step, I’ll get back to where I need to be. I’ll need Jesus to remind me who I am and who I can be. I’ll have my friends by my side to encourage me and push me to see the positives. By finally acknowledging the pain I’ve gone through these last two years, I can finally heal.
God help me.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.