|Photo from 2012|
I would like to note that this list is not made from any emotional extremes. I wrote it at 7:30 AM after a good night's sleep. I feel level headed. It's 2.25 years in the making and has been developed by talking to a lot of folks who are older and wiser than I am. I've avoided going into much detail about what happened a few years ago, but I decided to write it out now since I recently heard that he's doing similar things to his current girlfriend that he did to me. For some reason, that was healing for me to hear. I feel awful she has to go through it, and I hope she gets out soon, but it let me know that it wasn't just me. I had still, up until now, thought that maybe this was all in my head - maybe I just wasn't strong enough or was really the abusive one.
These were my experiences. I didn't know him, really, at all when we started to live together and I was in an isolated situation and didn't know anyone within a thousand miles.
1. He would invalidate my feelings. I didn't realize this was happening. I would tell him how I was and how I was seeing things and he'd tell me it wasn't so. I got so bad that I couldn't eat more than a bite of oatmeal a day, and even that was a struggle, and had constant stomach aches. He told me it wasn't a big deal - that it wasn't that bad. I didn't realize that he was frequently invalidating my feelings until I was around guys who didn't do that.
2. He didn't ask consent.
The way he would cover himself was by asking after the fact. In an attempt to try and keep him from leaving me, I wanted to go along with everything. I would also initiate with the same attempt.
3. When I was expressing emotional distress about a situation, he mocked me saying, "Meh meh meh, my name's Mägi and I can't handle social situations." It wasn't exactly those words, but something on that page and he definitely said, the "Meh, meh, meh, my name's Mägi and" part.
4. When I would write out my concerns with him, and was very open and honest, about how things were going (I was miserable), at the end, he would just say, "I don't see it like that," and leave it at that or have nothing to say. I'd tell him, "To someone who's never dated, this really seems like a relationship," and he'd say, "This is nothing like a relationship." We shared a bed, I made meals for him to come home to, I did his laundry, he would make oatmeal and help with dishes. I was confused because it seemed like one, although I had never been in one before.
4.5. Even though he wanted to sleep with me (and was highly sexual), he would tell me, "I think of you as a sister." And I told him that was messed up and that he must not have a sister (he didn't) because brothers never treat their sisters like this.
5. When I told him I had to get away from him, that I thought I was heading in a dangerous direction and needed space, he told me I couldn't. When I said I needed a break, he told me we had to work through it and not being friends wasn't an option. His friend was a mediator in this conversation. Us taking separate roads was not an option. When I said I might need to leave, he said that I shouldn't.
6. I realized he was really into this other girl. He'd invite her over to our place late at night and want to stay out late with her at the bar before coming home to where I was. He knew full well that I was struggling with an infatuation with him (which gets strong pretty fast when you live with someone) and in a lot of mental distress.
When I told him he needed to just pursue her and just let me be, he told me that couldn't happen because he didn't know, yet, if she liked him. I couldn't go until he had her secured. I was good for keeping him company until he had the next girl all the way lined up.
7. We were living together in Location A when he told me I had a week to find my own place. I found it. As soon as I found it, he asked if he could live in it too. My gut told me it was a horrible idea and I went with it. At the end of our time there, he wanted to keep living together in a new house. I told him this was a bad idea (although we looked at places) because I knew I was going to have a hard time getting over him - especially when he was sleeping with another girl in the room next door. He told me that he didn't see how that would be a problem.
8. There are a lot of things that were really unhealthy that happened in bed (luckily, we never had sex - never ever) that I don't want to write about here.
9. I was always apologizing. I was sorry for my feelings (for him) and I felt really guilty for feeling that way and ruining our friendship. It was all my fault that things went wrong, I thought. We had something so great, I thought, and then I had to go and mess it up by falling for the guy.
10. We had a major conversation, one day, where we talked about how I was in a really vulnerable state and wasn't ready to be living with him and have him pursue another girl while we were still living together. I thought that with more time, I could get over him. I asked him for time. He agreed to it and I thought he was so great to not be chasing other girls for a week or two so I could work on healing. That very night, we went to a bar together. Before, he had expressed frustration at me for leaving early, or leave without saying good-bye, so I made a point to stay extra long and be social like a good girl (it was this night that I met one of my current housemates). I saw him leaving near 2 AM without me and I went to go home with him. As it turned out, he was going to the dock with his new love interest. He told me he thought I had left. I biked away in hurt and in frustration -- he knew how fragile I was, at that point (remember -- barely able to eat?). I called him and he asked if I needed him to come home. I told him I did, because I knew what they were going to do at that dock. He came home with me. I thought he was so good to me, because he came home.
At this point, I was starting to think that I was the abusive person in the relationship because I had kept him from doing something he wanted to do. I thought I was becoming controlling.
11. He told me over and over that he cared for me. Now, looking back, I don't see care in his actions. Since then, I've had issues when guys have told me they care for me. I've had a lot of issues with a lot of things that have to do with guys, since they were things that he did.
12. In social situations, I felt absolutely ignored by him - like he was annoyed by me. I expressed that and he told me it was the opposite - he told me he spent more time with me in social situations than with any other person. I told myself I was just over thinking, insecure, and stupid.
13. At the end of all this, I stopped talking to him for a while. When I did, he told me, "You were mean," and also told me, "Mägi, I didn't do anything wrong."
These are things I couldn't see when I was with him. I was completely blind.
Since then, I've talked to a lot of older, wiser folks (and some younger wiser or some younger and not that wise, just sensible) who opened up my eyes to the situation. Folks who knew him a lot better than I did started to reveal to me who he was - he was always portrayed as an insecure boy with low self-esteem. This makes sense.
I had thought he was so good to me. Good to me because he did dishes sometimes and got me a bike and would dance with me in the kitchen. I didn't realize that if being around someone ever does such damage to the point where you can't eat and have constant headaches, maybe you shouldn't spend lots of one on one time with them in a place where you feel absolutely isolated.
He's still with that other girl (since summer 2012) and I've heard from folks that he's pretty rotten to her - manipulative, mind games, and demeaning. I've also heard, though, that she's so in love with him, that she can't see it. I hope she gets out of that relationship soon.
I was only with him for two months and he did more damage than an appendicitis. I'm glad I got out.
The following year, an older-than-me-friend said, "Mägi, how come you have a hard time admitting you were in an abusive relationship."
I didn't think it was abusive. He didn't hit me, ever. He didn't do anything that was blatantly horrible. He didn't call me names. I thought it would be making a big deal out of something small. I didn't want to be "that one girl" who villainized a guy because things didn't work out. I mean, his last words to me, basically, were him telling me that he didn't do anything, anything wrong.
I still keep second guessing myself. I still have a lot of insecurities related to this situation.
It took me a lot of years to see different sides of this. For a while I thought it was all in my head. I thought that I was evil and didn't deserve to be with anyone because of how things went with him. I'm grateful for the humans who worked through this with me for hours and hours (and hours).