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The Honest Truth About How I Was in an Unhealthy Relationship

by Ashley on July 10, 2012 · 3 comments

The Once Upon a Time

I had just turned 18 and was beginning my freshman year of college when I met Mike*.

Tall, dark, and handsome. Smooth talker. Oh, he was dreamy. And he was learning to play the guitar, which was always on the list of what I wanted in a boyfriend.

On our first date we went ice skating. He bought me ice cream and we held hands.  Then he took me to the park, we danced under the stars, and we kissed.

The Reality

At the same time I began dating Mike was beginning, my parents were going through a divorce and I was away from home for the first time. So, when Mike asked me to be his girlfriend, I clung to him for all my emotional support. He became my rock and I didn’t care what came with it. I fell fast and I fell hard.

We spent all of our free time together.  I met his parents and he met mine. We stayed up all night and told each other our life stories. My friends didn’t seem to like him much, but I didn’t care. We were inseparable.

The Unhealthy Relationship

After a few months, things between Mike and I began to change.

He was still my rock, but I was beginning to notice the cracks.

We got into more arguments and I cried much more often.

He began calling me at 3am, drunk, and that’s when I began having panic attacks. I would beg and plead for him to stop drinking so much. He would reassure me, and then keep drinking.

He began asking me to wear certain clothes and voiced his dislike for my friends and family.

One night as we were on our way to dinner, he criticized my driving  and I broke down in tears. I realized he made me feel like everything was my fault. But I didn’t care.

I convinced myself that these were just growing pains. I loved him. Mike and I were only a few months into our relationship and we still had a few kinks to work out. Nothing time couldn’t fix, I told myself.

But time didn’t change anything.

Mike and I dated for several more years. And it was several more years of tears, late-night phone calls, cheating, bullying, name-calling, and blaming.

We broke up a few times, but always got back together.

Why I Stayed Even Though I Knew I Should Have Left

Honestly, I knew it wasn’t healthy and I knew I deserved better. But still, it was easier to stay than to leave.

I was too blinded by the idea of love to realize that my relationship was unhealthy. I was fragile and weak and I wanted someone, anyone, to be there for me. I let Mike be that person.

Our relationship was based on need instead of respect, honesty, friendship, and love. I was willing to compromise my values and my self-confidence to be with him. It felt like I needed him more than I needed myself. And that’s why it was unhealthy.

The Ending

It wasn’t a story book ending. I didn’t magically learn to love myself more than Mike and leave him in a blaze of glory.

It took one of us moving to a different state to break Mike and I up for the final time. We both cried. I believe that we loved each other as best we knew how, it just wasn’t healthy. We were young, battling our own demons, and clung to each other for support.

We stayed in touch for a few months as we slowly began to create a life separate from each other.

I began dating other boys and learning what it was like to be in a healthy relationship. I learned what love looked like when it wasn’t draped in guilt, blame, and disrespect. I learned to be myself, love myself, and trust myself. I learned what happiness looked like when it came from inside.

*Name changed

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly Ann July 10, 2012 at 7:46 am

Appreciate your honesty… I had a similar story… took him moving away for things to end too. Thank GOODNESS!!!

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Kate July 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm

It’s so hard to walk away from a relationship you KNOW you shouldn’t be in, but kudos to you (and all the other women out there) who eventually find the courage to do so. I, myself, was in a very unhealthy relationship for three years while at Uni. I kept seeing the bad signs, but it was just so tough to walk away because it was my first relationship and (I thought) I was in love with the guy. Unfortunately, it took physical abuse for me to finally have the guts to walk away, and it was the best decision I have ever made.

Thanks, Ashley, for sharing your story and for having the passion and determination to inspire others. You’re simply amazing!

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Linda July 12, 2012 at 10:59 am

Ah this brings back memories of my own unhealthy relationship(s). Thank you for sharing your story, Ashley.

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