A few years ago, one of my closest friends started dating this guy she was totally crazy about. I remember hearing about their first date and being so excited for her, it sounded like she had finally met “the one” and she was absolutely glowing from it. A couple months passed and I was ecstatic. She had finally found true love, and I could tell she was happy.
A year went by and we still met up for lunch every now and then. We would catch up, and her relationship sounded perfect. Wedding planning was a main topic, if I do recall. I remember thinking how exciting being a bridesmaid would be.
More time went on and I began seeing her even less. I didn’t really think about it at first. When you have a boyfriend, your social life changes. I understood why she skipped the parties, and started cancelling the lunch dates. I wanted her to be happy, and I didn’t blame her for wanting to spend so much time with him. It’s already hard enough to keep up with relationships at this age, and I knew spending her free time with him was something she enjoyed.
But I’ll never forget the first day I noticed things weren’t as great as they seemed to be online. When she showed up to lunch that day, she had suddenly lost the sparkle in her eye. She didn’t jump when I asked about the relationship, in fact, she changed the subject as soon as she could.
“Everything is fine” I’ve learned were the three words that muted her cries for help in a mentally abusive relationship.
This is when she stopped losing faith in love, life, but most importantly herself; and for this I will never forgive you.
I didn’t say anything at first. Quite honestly, I didn’t know how to bring it up. Of course I wanted to know, but I wanted to help even more, in any way possible. I could have never in my wildest dreams imagined how bad things were continuing to become behind closed doors.
Then on one of these lunch dates, it was towards the beginning of their two year mark, she finally admitted it: “He doesn’t like for me to be around you guys..” she told me, “He always says you bring out the worst in me and doesn’t trust me to not make past mistakes under your influence.” When she told me this at first, I wasn’t surprised. By this time I maybe got to see her once every couple months. I don’t know what exactly prompted her to finally tell me the truth that day, but I’m extremely grateful she did. She said that it just wasn’t the same anymore. He didn’t make her feel special, and she couldn’t even remember the last time he told her she was beautiful. I was instantly concerned.
“Have you talked to him about it?” I asked. She told me in the entire two years they had been together, they had never had a deep conversation. Everything revolved around small talk or something he was interested in. “He would think it was stupid anyways” she always said. At this point, I don’t think she realized what he was doing to her mind. She mentioned that he jokingly put her down every now and then, about her biggest insecurities. I was extremely pissed off when she said it, but she made it sound like it was a regular occurrence. Something she had just gotten used to. And that was the exact moment I started hating you.
After that, I made more of an effort to hear from her more. I would text her, or try to get together more. But I could feel her pushing me away. When I did get to see her, the pain in her eyes was becoming permanent, and I begged her to end the relationship. She said life without him sounded scary, but one day I think she really started to consider it. “I just can’t do it, we have vacations, holidays, an entire life planned together…” But she didn’t sound excited. “You don’t HAVE to stay with someone who doesn’t make you happy!” I begged her. “It won’t be easy at first but I promise I will be there every step of the way.” These pleas were always answered with a silent shrug as she looked down at the margarita she was sipping. I thought if I could plant the seed in her mind enough, maybe one day it would start growing on it’s own.
We kept inviting her to parties, but I honestly knew she would never show up. Until one night….she really did. She showed up, and even through my haze of a drunken night, I remember the pure sadness and fear in her eyes when she stepped in my room that summer evening. My friends didn’t notice, they were trashed, and I kept watching her eyes as everyone took turns hugging her. She wouldn’t make eye contact with any of us. “I actually am just saying hi…” she said: “My boyfriend is waiting in his truck.” One of my friends drunkenly insisted on going and telling him hi. I saw her silent reaction and instantly knew it was a terrible idea. But still, in my friends drunken state, she simply insisted.
I decided to silently watch because I was genuinely worried about her and how this was all about to go down. I crept outside and watched them pass a party bystander who was smoking a cigarette. He actually was an ex of the girlfriend. He was excited to see her but I could tell she was trying to pass him unnoticed, he realized the same and stepped away. For a moment, I imagined a different reality entirely. The way those two clicked back in the day was nothing short of magical. The laughs, late nights, silent kisses under the moon… I couldn’t help but wish that was their reality, and I think he was thinking about it too. He was someone who always loved her, he probably always will. I offered him a small smile as an apology, but he shrugged back and decided to look away from her walking towards her boyfriend in his huge truck. Do you need that big truck to cover up how little of a man you are?
My drunk friend started walking back after slightly making a fool of herself, and I swear on my LIFE my friends boyfriend sped out of there like there was no tomorrow. He floored his huge truck and it roared it’s evil sound past me.. It still haunts me that I caught my friend staring blankly out the window. I felt her sadness. My drunk friend said the boyfriend said hi to her but looked extremely annoyed. I started to fear what my friend might really be going through that she was hiding from me.
After that, I insisted on seeing her more. I was growing more and more concerned about her well being everyday she stayed with that terrible human. My hatred for him began to grow too, and it was hard to think anything positive of him. Almost a year later and I still haven’t thought a single nice thing about him since that night. But anyways, I tried to get together with her more, and it started to work. I convinced her a couple times to even come to my house, (which she was forbidden from, but we kept it a secret) and she was finally starting to think of a future without him. “Why is it you sit here and only have great things to say about Zach, but I literally never say anything good about my boyfriend?” She asked one day. I think that was when she started realizing she wasn’t trapped. I told her it was because I was in a healthy relationship, that maybe she needed to step back and consider leaving him once and for all. I could tell at this point she was getting closer to finally going through with it.
I knew there were things she was still hiding from me, but I never tried to pry it out of her. Towards the end, all I wanted was for her to walk away unharmed physically. I knew the mental damage kept adding up. I could see it in her eyes, the clothes she wore, and the way she carried herself. He had beaten a once extremely confident woman down, to a terrified girl who couldn’t find any good in herself. Did I mention how much I hate you?
I’m pretty sure the last straw for her was when he neglected to spend time with her after going through a pretty terrifying surgery. He chose his FRIENDS over her. I never understood why he was allowed to have friends in this relationship, but she never was. AND come to find out after they finally did break up, he was spending those evenings partying downtown, making out with whoever he could, and being everything short of faithful. Absolutely disgusting.
By the time I had finally convinced her to end things, she was so beaten down. She was heart broken, and she had lost herself entirely. She had even started the process of having a tattoo removed because of how much he tormented her about it. It seriously makes me so sad to think about. The break up was messy, at first he didn’t want to lose his control over her. He still continued to say hurtful things such as confessing how he was unfaithful. She was really really hurt. She still is. To this day, it’s only been about seven months since the break up. Somehow, her ex is now engaged? So of course that isn’t helping with the healing, but she is doing so much better without him. I’m so proud of her for everything she has accomplished, and everything she will continue to accomplish, without you. She’s free. The sparkle is back in her eye, she has confidence, and she believes in herself. She believes in life again. Of course, her wounds will take more time to heal, but time will be our friend and help with that. I see her all the time now. At least once a week, and I’m so extremely happy. She’s learning to do life her way. Following her dreams and having free reign to enjoy life exactly how she deserves to. Without you. I can only hope you don’t treat your future wife the same way, but it’s extremely difficult for me to think you won’t. I don’t know if you’ll ever change. I know for damn sure you will absolutely never be a man. You lost the one good thing about you. Forever. So thank you for returning my best friend, because life is pretty fucking great with you out of the picture.
**If anyone reading this feels like they relate to my friend in the relationship, please speak up. It’s okay to admit something is wrong. And I promise you, you aren’t trapped. It’s okay to say the relationship wasn’t always bad, but I’m telling you now, it will absolutely never get better.