Well, I Was Just a Girlfriend
But I couldn't find "Abusive boyfriend" so I figured this would do.
I fell for a guy 12 years older than I when I was 18. I knew that the odds against the relationship were high, but I was really committed to making it work. I dated this guy for a few months and nothing really untoward happened... or at least that I realized was a red flag at the time. Sure he would get really mad about unimportant little things, but I figured that as long as I placated him he'd be fine. I don't want to make me sound like a doormat, but I honestly believed that as long as I explained that I wasn't laughing at him, just enjoying a chat with my friend (true story... we weren't even talking about him) he wouldn't be angry anymore. Shows what I knew.
I dated this guy and ended up moving in with him and spent the next four years bitterly regretting it. Although I couldn't admit to myself that I did regret it...I always thought that if I only tried harder to understand him, that I could avoid all the little blow ups and screaming sessions that occured. It was only happening because I wasn't smart enough, or I was too involved with my own life to remember him.
By the time I finally wised up and broke it off with the guy, I was mostly crazy. I doubted (and continue to doubt) my judgement of people, the validity of my emotions, whether or not I was a selfish person. To this day, I have a difficult time with silences in conversation...I learned that those meant I had been "bad" and was going to be yelled at. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it was coming.
Sometimes he'd wait to pick a fight with me, so that I was on eggshells for days...getting ready to fight about every little thing and then he'd be so reasonable that by the time the fight DID happen I was feeling like I'd caused it. Other times, the fight would be immediate and hurtful and I would be in "disgrace" for the next few days. Silent treatment all around and I would be ignored and left to fend for myself. No communal dinner, and no taking me with him when he went out.
It got to the point where it was like living with a dog that I didn't know would bite or not. I was always waiting for the next fight and the next apology: "I'm sorry babe, it's just you KNOW that makes me unhappy, and I just can't help myself. You just need to not do that anymore and we'll be fine." It was always up to me to bend, give in or break. He wouldn't ever compromise. It was also up to me to make sure he was happy. He had no responsibility for his own emotional health. If he was angry, not only was it most likely my fault, but I was "supposed" to make it better.
And then after the break up it was worse. Abusive calls at all hours of the day or night, hateful e-mails. He'd show up at my apartment in tears...or in a towering rage. Once he had a knife. I even got a call from his shrink...the man only broke doctor-patient confidentiality to tell me that I was in danger. My ex was showing signs of stalking and possessive behavior. So I moved 800 miles away to the northern part of the state. A week later, so did he. Recently, after two years of peace he once again started sending me abusive e-mails and generally being a freak. So, I'm filing a restraining order on Monday.
The problem now is the aftermath... I can't seem to have a normal relationship now. I don't even want to date most of the time because I deeply distrust most people...mostly men. When I do date, I'm always waiting for them to turn on me and hurt me. I don't like being touched, and I am prone to react violently to being "loomed" over. I still have nightmares, and I hate sharing personal space or a bed with anyone else. I'm definately wise to the signs of an abuser now, but I also kind of feel like I'm so determined never to be trapped in that situation again that I'm kind of rejecting everyone out of hand. I have a tendency to over react in an argument and instantly go aggressive and defensive in anticipation of being put down.
How do I go about getting my life back? I don't want this loser to win by making me too afraid to enjoy life without him? It doesn't help that my other boyfriends have been losers or pre-abusers too... I don't understand why I attract them. I wasn't abused as a child or anything. Anyway, what steps do I take to being able to trust the people I date?