Have you ever dated someone who slowly turned from a loving partner into a manipulative, abusive stranger? I did.
His words and actions changed from an amazing loving friendship to bullying: veiled insults and putdowns, irritable responses, and increasing distance. He kept me in a state of constant anxiety. It's like he knew that was my weak spot, and then and manipulated it until there was nothing left of me.
How did he do this? He would offhandedly mentioned that an old girlfriend had gotten back in touch with him, or that a woman he once knew started emailing him out of the blue, and he would mention specific details that would let me know that the conversation was deeper than just a friendly hello, that sort of thing. At the time, I didn't realize that he was doing it because he was insecure. I found that out later.
Him doing this to me was extremely cruel, and I didn't realize that it was actually abusive until after the relationship ended. Keeping me on the edge somehow made him feel better about himself, inflated. When he would see my worry or anxiousness he would then chastise me, saying how he "couldn't take my anxiety anymore" and things like that. I didn't realize that at the time I was being baited and bashed: baited to be controlled and bashed to be put down and destroyed.
The baiting part was when he would "offhandedly" mention another woman in a personal way… such as when the woman emailed him "out of the blue" to "keep in touch." He went on to tell me how great this person was, etc., while at the same time in our relationship he was becoming more irritable towards me and putting distance between us. I was concerned.
I didn't even complain about him emailing with this woman. All I asked was one question about it… Why she had emailed him to begin with… And he exploded at me. That was the bashing.
This turned into one of the most stressful times in my entire life, and it felt like being inside a muddy pit, where the harder I tried to climb out the more I slid back down to the bottom. This was a person who I loved and trusted, and who previously showered me with love, affection, and adoration. I knew that the loving person that I saw in the beginning was still in there somewhere and that he was probably just going through a rough patch, so I held on.
My gut instinct was to cling tighter to him, but I didn’t. I knew that would be the worst thing I could do, because that would probably just push him farther away from me and irritate him. So as hard as it was, I pretty much just kept my mouth shut and took a step back, but I did hold on to the relationship. I just kind of loosened the reigns.
But no matter how cool I looked on the outside- on the inside my brain and body went into panic mode, desperately searching for an answer, trying to figure out why he was doing this to me. If he didn’t want to be with me, he would just break up with me, right? But he didn't. I started to lose sleep. All I thought about day and night was the relationship.
If he didn’t want to be with me, he would just break up with me, right?
Because he didn’t break up with me, I assumed that he still wanted to be in a relationship with me, and so I held on and endured. What I didn't realize at the time was that I was only enduring growing bullying, manipulative abuse. What I didn't realize at the time was that he was mentioning all these women on purpose, to upset me and control me. He was planting seeds of insecurity, and my staying in the relationship with him was me continuing to water those seeds. It was only later on, after the relationship ended, that I realized that he probably got great pleasure from planting those seeds of insecurity in me.
Another thing that I didn’t realize at the time was that my personal power was slipping away, and all going to him. I was more worried about the relationship and him than I was about myself. I was beginning to disappear. Once the relationship finally ended I was left extremely weak, heartbroken, damaged, and with very very little self confidence remaining. I fell apart and into a depression and had a hard time completing basic tasks in my life. It took me many months to regain my strength, my self esteem, and my trust toward other people.
There are times when I still struggle. At times during my recovery friends had said things to me like, "you have to let go." I knew this was true. But remember, trauma can at times be more binding than love. And it took me much longer than I had ever expected for me to finally let it all go.
But remember, trauma can at times be more binding than love.
He really did a number on me. In retrospect, all the red flags were there. In retrospect, he was masterful at his manipulative game, which he played perfectly. From him imprinting himself on me and mirroring me from the very beginning, to his baiting and bashing controlling behaviors at the end of the relationship, it was like he was doing everything from a script the entire time.
Not wanting to let go after the relationship ended only prolonged my own pain. It was like torturing myself. When the day finally came where I let it all go, I felt like a massive weight lifted off my back, off of my heart, and off of my spirit. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pick a day for that to happen, it had to run its course, and it did. It took a very long time, but it finally happened. I was finally free. I finally had my magic back.
I was finally free. I finally had my magic back.