The Silver Ring...

Before I start this I want to apologize if it doesn't make sense. The old saying time heals all wounds is untrue and I cannot know if I have truly recovered from this until I put myself in a similar situation again. What irks me the most about the whole damn thing though is that I cannot accept that it was not in some way my fault. I was a sociology major in college. I knew all the signs of an abusive relationship. And yet I ignored every one of them that presented itself. I'm also unsure if I in some way triggered the abuse...these things I struggle with every time I think about what happened and no amount of reassurance or therapy has answered all the questions I still have. I still have one thing she gave me besides all the pain and emotional torment: a silver ring she got for me on our 2 month anniversary (I got her a ring also that was silver with a mounted mother of pearl stone). I don't wear it anymore. Not since the day the whole thing ended. It sits on my nightstand as a reminder of what not to do and not to get myself into a mess like that ever again. I have changed certain details and left things out to keep the person's identity secret and keep them from finding me..the way I see it after all is said and done it is best we don't talk to each other anymore. No good can come of it for either party
I first met the girl in my sophomore year of college. She was beautiful to me at the time. Always smiling and laughing and she had short hair (I am not sure why but as much as I like long hair on girls the right girl with a short haircut is beyond sexy). She was also an artist. A writer and very smart. I had a bit of a crush on her when I first met her that year but I tend to take my time getting into such things. Get to know the girl first before I ask her out. Heard things through the grapevine but nothing much. She knew my room mate from one of his classes (she was a year younger than me) but beyond that I did not know much.
I spent the summer thinking about life and maybe possibly dating this girl. Eventually I came to the conclusion that the best way to go about it was get to know her. Be her friend for a bit till I got the courage to ask her out on a date. I had done it before and it tended to work out. What I did was I invited her over to my dorm and she and my room mate could go out to lunch at the cafe or something and just sit and talk. But, as with anything in love nothing ever goes according to plan. The minute my room mate left she kissed me. I was nervous but she reassured me and we kissed for about 10 minutes or more before the room mate came back. It was wonderful. I did get to know her a bit more. She was an English major, enjoyed Eastern European literature, and had a certain air of sophistication about her that is oh so hard to find when dating. The next day we went out on a date to an art museum and stopped for ice cream after.
All went well at first but problems, although not glaring yet, were starting to show. She told me she had been abused which I won't get into and I was ok with that. It was not a warning sign in of itself however the result of it is what created problems. The first time we had sex did not help things either. We both enjoyed it but shortly after when we would sleep together (which we often did it wasn't sexual) she would act nervous and when I asked her what was wrong she would ask “do you really love me?”. I would always answer yes but I could tell she never believed it. At the time I thought “It's ok she had a bad relationship before me. She will heal in time”. The doubts did not stop though in fact they got worse. It got to the point where the only time she was ever happy was when we were having sex or at least that is how it seemed to me. She constantly accused me of cheating which I would never do and certain things I did like have the occasional drink bothered her.
The first time she hit me I remember was one night I had a beer and she did not like it. First sip I took she said “I'm not speaking to you because you are drunk.” When I questioned what made her think I was drunk she smacked me. I wasn't sure what to make of this at the time because I had not put 2 and 2 together yet. At some point after that I took her to an area one weekend near where I live that has a lot of odd shops (always loved to go there and still do) and among other places we went to was a jewlery store. This is when she bought me the silver band I keep and when I got her her ring. When we got home it seemed she trusted me for the first time in a while as it was really the first time since we started going out she actually seemed to trust me a little bit.
Things quickly went back to “normal” though. Her doubts and accusations got worse and worse and nothing I did could solve it. At that point I tried to reason with her. When we were in bed one night I said to her that we needed to have a talk. I figured she would listen so I said that I loved her very much (because I did), but that all the lack of trust was stressing me out. Her reaction was that I did not love her but hated her and she threatened self harm (and I had zero doubt from how she talked that she would do it) and this left me baffled and afraid.
I can honestly say I spent the first 3 months of this relationship actually dating and having a good time. The rest of the relationship I spent trying to think of a way to fix it or a way to leave without her hurting/killing herself. And it wasn't like I thought about this all the time because there were GOOD points. I mean she could be fine one minute and then something would happen. After a while I figured out what seemed to be her triggers and just did nothing to set them off.
That summer though things escalated. She would call me constantly and while skype helped, when I was at work she was worried I had either forgotten about her or that I was cheating on her so I would leave work and have somewhere between 25 and 80 missed calls from her on my phone. On days off I would go to her house to visit. For the most part that went well but I had several close calls. One instance was a concert in the summer where she was in one of her moods (that and we had gotten home later than we expected from a concert in the city) and I got pulled over (a tail light bulb was dead) and she was crying. At first he thought I hit her so he interviewed each of us separately. I “knew” better than to say what had been happening before that so I just said she was upset so I was taking her home (I figured who was he gonna believe the boyfriend who wasn't crying at all or the girl who was crying so bad her face was red?). Apparently she told him a similar story and he let us go.
The other instance at around this time is one that I would get a flashback about years later. was an instance where she asked “do you love me?” and she did not think the answer I gave was sincere. She punched a mirror in her room and threatened to stab me with the glass. When she picked up a shard I ran down the hall and locked myself in the bathroom hoping she would calm down. Probably not the best idea in hindsight because the room had one way in and one way out but oh well. Every part of me wanted to call the cops but I knew better. When she picked up the glass shard she had cut her hand and was bleeding. I knew I had 2 factors against me in that case. 1. I was a guy and 2. I knew from class the in the event of a domestic violence call it was federal law that the person without the cut is the one that goes to jail. And an arrest record would not have been a good thing to have. I am thankful she did not know that or else she could have made my life a living hell if she did.
By this time I had come to the conclusion that I did love her it was just that the relationship was toxic for everyone involved. I don't quite think she was abusive like she consciously wanted to make my life a living hell I think she was just couldn't help herself. Had that bad memory of abuse and it just consumed her. I knew by now that I HAD to get out before I either got killed or had a mental breakdown. I spent that night in my bed not sleeping but thinking. I knew what I wanted. I wanted to get out of it all, but I did not want her to kill herself when I did because I knew if she killed herself I would have a nervous breakdown. Eventually I came up with an idea. I just needed a day it would work.
I went to visit her on a day off and waited till her mother came home. I figured this way I wasn't going to tell her and then leave her alone in the house to kill herself. Then, I broke up with her. She was upset and if I remember correctly she even chased my car as it went down the street for a bit. At the time I felt relieved. It was over. I had gotten out. And most importantly she hadn't killed herself. I later heard she had tried to slit her throat after I left but that her mom had stopped her. I thought I had gotten out unscathed and I went to therapy just to make sure. Trauma however is a funny thing. You may not need the therapy right when you get out, but while you think you are ok things are messing with you in your mind.
A few years later for volunteer experience I volunteered with an organization locally that helps people who are in abusive relationships get out and also has a crisis team. We got through half the material for the class and by now I had accepted that I had been in an abusive relationship and I had even gotten counseling for it. But that night of training where we had to cover domestic violence law...that was when I learned I was not OK. The trainer was going over the domestic violence law regarding injury when the officers arrived and I got a flashback of the incident with the mirror. At first I figured “ignore it. It will go away like a hypnogoic hallucination” (which I have had before because of lucid dreaming) but it got worse. Somehow I managed to get myself out of the multipurpose room and into the bathroom where I locked the door and collapsed on the floor. I just let it run its course and then went back out. It was still on my mind the whole rest of the lecture, but it was ignorable.
Since all this thoughts about this period of my life fill my head every so often. I sometimes think to myself that if I had been a better boyfriend or paid more attention to her triggers then things would have worked out better. That and I think back to what the counselor said when we went to couples counseling in school about how problems in a relationship are generally 50% your fault and 50% the other persons fault. I know and I have been told a million times before and since all this happened that that rule does not apply to abusive relationships I cannot bring myself to believe it. Even though I remember the nights where she told me guys don't have emotions and we are all a bunch of scumbags who deserve abuse. Even though the only time I remember fighting back was one night I threw her out of my apartment and put her stuff outside (I took her back the next day). Only time will tell if I will ever have all the answers...
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2 Responses Jan 23, 2013

Are you aware of co dependency ?

The terrible things we go through make us the strong people we become : ). Thank you for sharing.