A couple of years ago, I asked to move in with me.
I had been renting an empty house in the mountains of New Jersey (and eventually, Maryland) for two years until I could find a place to live. In my application, I explained that I wanted to make sure I moved every few months, lest I miss my chance to see my lover.
Fortunately, my lover was quick to provide me with a place to live and to help me with everything I needed — much to my relief. We quickly built a connection, and over the next two years, I moved about six times, seeing him in all sorts of places around the country and the world.
One month, we went to Italy.
We did not know each other’s much then, but after our brief conversation, I instantly felt at home in his apartment. We did not speak a word, but his smile and his large smile were enough to make me feel at ease. Even more, I liked how he treated me.
Soon enough, we were texting daily. Although we were not seeing each other in person, I did not want to be alone in my new home. Being with him made me feel comfortable and secure.
Unfortunately, things did not continue like that.
I think at some point in the last year of our relationship, we became quite the polar opposite of each other. Although he was extremely controlling and seemed to want me to do everything for him, I did the exact opposite. I was one of the most independent people in the world.
The abuse I suffered was both physical and emotional. At that time in my life, I had never been the victim of abuse or had experienced anything close to what I had experienced in the last decade.
In hindsight, I should have called it quits right then and there. I should have said something to him, told him what he was doing was wrong, and that I didn’t feel like he was making me feel like family.
I should have said something to my friends and family. Why were they silent? Why did they condone him? Why did they continue to hang out with him and go on trips with him?
There’s no one right way to go about calling someone out on their behavior.
In the end, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t be the person who let him get away with it again and again.
That’s when I called him.
The Call That Would Change Everything
“To calumniate a friend, even once, is a misfortune too painful to recall.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
To say the least, we barely spoke during that period. But what we had was enough to make me realize that I deserved more.
I worked as a code breaker for other people’s secrets and went out of my way to never tell anybody what they did unless I was subpoenaed to testify in a court of law.
My moral code meant that I had no shame and that I actively embraced people’s lower traits like greed, stupidity, and shame.
The whole situation made me wonder whether I was merely a caring friend who never had a negative emotion in his life or if there was something more deeper at play.
After thinking about it for a while, I realized I had made a connection with my inner child.
What did this have to do with my self-development?
I had always thought I was smart but so much more is at stake.
This childlike empathy had always made me feel vulnerable but at the same time, I was suspicious of people’s superior values.
I had always assumed that I was a good person with good intentions but I hadn’t really taken the time to understand the other people in my life.
This time, I did.
I understood that my own sense of right and wrong was corrupted. The things that made me feel safe in my own house were the same that hurt me in other people’s relationships.
This time, I started to pay attention to other people’s pain. The things that made me cry were the same things that hurt me in other people’s relationships.
I realized that my own pain was part of a pattern. I didn’t know exactly when and where it started, but I started to work on it because it only increased the more I reflected on my own pain.
Slowly, I let go of the past and started to heal myself. I let go of the toxic relationship and I let go of the past for the better.
I started to love myself more.
I Was Still a Part of the Problem, But I Was Free for Therapy to Get beyond it
After all these years, I’m finally free of the toxicity and guilt of being a victim of emotional abuse.
I was still a part of the problem but I was free to get beyond it.
I went to therapy to get beyond the memories