Editor’s note: The following was posted as a comment by the Lovefraud reader “Zootowngirl.” She eloquently expressed ideas that many other readers can certainly understand.
I read the articles and comments posted on Lovefraud.com and I see my life, or parts of it, described over and over again. I see things my ex did (or didn’t do) written in the words of other people. I see myself in their stories. Often I find myself thinking, “Thank God my experience wasn’t that bad or that long,” and other times I nod my head in silent, humiliated understanding that comes with first hand knowledge of the horror stories people share.
My ex has the most beautiful soul. He is kind and compassionate and loving. He is the most thrilling person I’ve ever known. Until he’s not. When he’s upset or inconvenienced or, God forbid, angry, he turns into someone cold and hostile. His comments are scathing, filled with razor sharp words that open veins in my heart and leave me gasping at the pain. He is a master at flaying open my emotions and then disavowing any responsibility or ill intent. He used to tell me that I didn’t understand what he meant, that I was hysterical, or that I twisted his meaning for my own passive aggressive purposes. Maybe I was passive aggressive. Never mind the “maybe.” I was passive aggressive. That’s what happens when I can’t ask for what I need without being rejected or ridiculed or told that I am selfish for expecting something from him. I’d like to blame him for it but I’m the boss of me. I’m the one who made the choice to be passive aggressive. I have to own that. And I have to own that I still don’t fully fathom the impact he’s had on me.
I’m an addict.
I’m addicted to him.
I’m addicted to the way I feel when I’m with him — the good, not the bad, though sometimes I believe I would accept the bad in order to also have the good. Maybe, possibly, if I’m just good enough and try hard enough and all the stars are aligned then maybe I’ll get some of the good. He’s so misunderstood, you see? He tells me so and so I have to believe that I’m just not giving him enough credit or being fair or being realistic. And he has ”legitimate excuses” for everything he does or doesn’t do. He was depressed. Then there was the physical pain: his elbow, his back, his guts. Then there was the dizziness that came and went, sometimes confining him to bed with the remote and sometimes miraculously disappearing just when something entertaining was planned. Then there was the encroachment of his privacy after we had to get roommates in order to help pay the rent because we only had my disability income to live on and all the money left to me by my father was gone at last. Then there were the accusations of flirting and disloyalty on my part that made him sad and sent him back into that depression. Then there was the day he called me a “stupid f*cking c*nt” and told me that he “deserved better from the woman who supposedly loved him.” Except I wasn’t supposed to internalize those words because he was just processing his thoughts about the anger he’d felt over something trivial and thought he could share that processing with me. But he didn’t explain that he was recalling his thoughts or just processing them and wondering why he’d thought and felt those things. He just said the words aloud and left me to sit with them for 2 weeks and then, when I finally broke down in tears over them said, “What?! Oh God! I was just describing what I felt at the time! Not what I think of you!” and the logic of that escaped me because the words had had 2 weeks to sit inside of me, carving themselves into my cells. Eight months later, they still echo in my head almost every hour of every day. But I’m not allowed to be hurt or be upset by them because, of course, they’re not true. He was just processing his feelings. I’m supposed to be glad he did that, right? That’s what women want, right? A man who will process his feelings with her.
I’m addicted to the memory of him when he was in a good mood and loved me.
I’m addicted to the energy and space he took up in every place we were together.
I was addicted to the constant texting and phone calls that happened before we lived together and the roller coaster drama of trying to prove that he should choose me and not that other woman because she’s a liar and a cheat while I’m faithful and devoted and loyal and dedicated no matter what he does or says or what promises he broke in the 3 years before we lived together.
I was addicted to proving that I’m good enough and that I can accept and forgive and love him unconditionally while he spent time trying to decide between us, despite having gone back on his assurance that he was going to give her up and come be with me a half dozen times or more.
I was addicted to putting him back together after she chewed him up and spit him out and to being his best friend while he agonized over how much she hurt him and to being the woman he turned at last to because he suddenly realized that I’m the right choice and I’m the perfect person for him.
I was addicted to riding out his struggle with commitment and his inability to plan for the future because so many other women have hurt him and left him and devastated him.
I was addicted to proving to him that I’ll stand by him always, no matter the hardship, no matter the tests he throws my way, no matter the pain he causes.
I was addicted to martyring myself to his cause, to being the true blue girl in his life.
I’m addicted to him the way a child is perversely compelled to continuing to love the father that abused her and the mother that abandoned her, always going back for more, always desperate to prove she is worthy of their love because she thinks that if she just loves well enough or loves the right way then love won’t continue to hurt her the way it does now.
I’m addicted to continuing to send messages to his phone from my email. He makes unfair statements and I get angry and find myself glad that I broke up with him and just when I start to think I did the right thing he lifts me up with loving words and apologies and I sob over the fact that I’m the horrible person who “destroyed his life”
I’m addicted to the way he says, “It was my fault for not loving you well enough baby,” as if somehow that love will seep into me from the computer screen and make it possible for me to trust myself again … after so many do-overs and so many 2nd chances that the idea of it only being a “second” chance is laughable. More like a 30th or 40th chance.
I’m addicted to being able to tell him exactly how much pain he caused me without any immediate consequence and watching his apologies and regret appear in my chat window … knowing that he’ll manage to turn things around so they become guilt trips rather than accountability … and praying that it won’t happen because that might be a sign from God that he’s sincerely sorry and things would be different this time. This 41st second chance.
I’m addicted to apologizing … to feeling guilty … to punishing myself … to hating myself for ending our relationship … for ending my dream … so that he’ll understand that I really did love him. I just have to love him from a distance now because I can’t live in a home where both of us hate me. It’s painful enough that I hate myself for not being good enough for him, that I hate my inadequacy and my inability to live up to even his most basic expectations.
I’m addicted to reminding myself that he almost punched me in the face once, to reminding myself that that is reason enough to have left him. And I’m addicted to being angry at him because he says, “But I didn’t actually hit you!” I’m angry at him for that because it’s the lamest response I can think of to an act of aggression that could have turned into an act of violence. And I’m angry because I’m addicted to telling myself, “It could have been worse. So many people have it so much worse. Just let it go. He didn’t actually hit you.”
I’m addicted to trying to take less responsibility for the way my life turned out … to blaming him for what hurts me. And I’m addicted to being angry at myself for the way my life turned out … and angry at myself for blaming him for what hurts me. I’m addicted to that anger because I’m accountable for myself and my life and for what I allow … and no matter how much I felt like I loved him … I was supposed to love myself first and best and I didn’t.
I’m addicted to my new reality … the reality in which nothing seems right without that drama and chaos even though this calm, quiet, peaceful life is healthier and safer and more trustworthy. Even though this life is beautiful. And I’m angry at myself for this particular addiction more than anything else.
That’s how I know I’m an addict. I’m a co-dependent, enabling, door mat of an addict.
Because when I say that I miss the way I felt when I was with him … I know that’s my addiction doing the talking.
Because when I’m honest with myself I can say that most days I felt desperate to prove to him that I was worthy of his notice.
Most days I felt like a piece of worthless garbage.
Most days I felt like I was a stupid f*cking c*nt and that he deserved better than me.
And that may not be entirely his fault … because I participated.
But most days I felt incapable of being anything other than that worthless piece of garbage and I don’t know how someone who “supposedly” loved me could not see that there was something wrong.
I know I’m an addict … because I was willingly living on scraps …… and I was starving … and it was killing me … and I miss that feeling of dying.