“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” What kind of crap is that statement? Of course words hurt me. It hurt me the first time you uttered that five-letter word meant to describe female dogs or other carnivorous mammals. The irony of this statement is that eventually the words didn’t hurt me. In fact, they didn’t even bother me, and that was the biggest invisible issue it took me so long to see.
I knew my relationship was going downhill, but I wasn’t going to do anything to stop it.
Instead, I coped by daydreaming, working vigorously to push out other dreams that were plagued with the vision of being a future housewife submissive to any of your demands. I tried to distract myself from haunted dreams of trying to protect our future children from hearing all the awful things that I learned to become so numb to. All my mind could picture was my life as a meek unassertive wife, when in reality, we weren’t even close to talking about marriage or even moving in together.
Needless to say, I knew we weren’t going to last. The warning signs sunk in about six months before we actually broke up. You would drive down to see me, yet fail to greet me without a warming hug or hello. When I offered a fun movie night with a homemade meal and some movie snacks, you opted to go out and drink with friends instead. You began to get annoyed with my dog and his overjoyed welcomes. You’d get mad when I wouldn’t respond to your texts fast enough, yet you remained distant when we’d spend one-on-one time together.
Our relationship clock began ticking as soon as the clock struck midnight on January 1st of 2017. To this day, I’m not sure where I heard this statement, but I recall someone saying, “The way you spend New Year’s Eve is how you spend the rest of your year.” The funny thing is, I spent New Year’s Eve dancing alone while you were puking in a trashcan nearby. At midnight, I looked around as all the couples shared a special kiss. I couldn’t help but feel sad. I even asked you to kiss me with your tainted breath because a New Year’s traditions we had carried out the last three years (was it four years? I can’t remember). This year was different though. You refused, and it wasn’t out of courtesy because of what took place five minutes before. It was because you thought it was dumb, and by association, I should think it was too. I just nodded obediently, and said, “Yeah…you’re right.”
The month to follow was terrible. It was filled with hurtful comments and even less of a desire to spend time with me. We lived two hours apart, so you were my primary focus when I visited you, but you always asked if you could go see your friends. And of course, trying to be a good girlfriend, I’d reply, “Sure, I’m tired I can just sleep.” I just kept quiet, patiently waiting for the next time you flared out at me, and I knew it would happen soon.
For whatever reason, February 5th was that chosen day. It wasn’t the first time I heard so many harsh comments spewed at me while you sat in a drunken rage, but I finally realized that it wouldn’t be the last. The last time we broke up, the police were involved. Rewind to two years earlier, and I was sitting in your living room, thinking about how you had nearly killed us both as you reached over and grabbed my steering wheel while driving to your house. A cop interrupted my mental playback of the event, staring into my eyes demanding, “Tell me if he hurt you.” For your sake, I stayed silent, yet after the cops left, I heard you furiously break all the Christmas presents I had worked so hard to buy you. You were still mad at me for whatever reason you imaginatively drummed up. I did nothing to stop you.
Those memories resonated in my head February 5th when it was just another one of those days. This time I was at work, surrounded by so many coworkers who I knew had gone through similar relationships of their own. Every time I checked my phone, I had more than 20 text messages describing what a terrible person I was. “This is it,” I thought to myself. I knew if I didn’t make the right move now I would end up with you forever.
Upon finalizing our breakup, I told everyone I knew. I showed everyone the text messages. I knew that the only way I would get myself out of this relationship was knowing I had my close family members and friends keep me accountable. The countless times it had happened before, I only ever told my pillow or my dog. My friends would say, “How are things going with ***?” I only ever really replied with “good.” I now believe that when anyone says they’re “good” they really aren’t all that “good.” We have too many beautiful words in the English language to describe ourselves as “good” all the damn time.
My dreams that were previously plagued with horrible visions of the future started getting replaced with more present, healthy goals. Instead of seeing myself as a submissive housewife, I saw myself on a boat off the coast of Cinque Terre. I saw myself drinking sangria and eating tapas with strangers in Barcelona. I saw myself smiling.
Soon after the breakup, one of my coworkers returned to work after being gone for six months with the National Guard. Considering I had already told everyone on planet earth we broke up, I had to run up and tell him, as well. His response astounded me. He confidently said, “I know you two broke up.” I asked him how, especially being away for so long and disconnected from social media. He simply replied with, “Because you’re happy.”