We Date At The Level of Our Self-Esteem
PLEASE NOTE: If you haven’t read Part 1 of this three-blog series, please click here before you read Part 2.
There’s a saying “hurt people, hurt people,” and I can tell you first hand that it holds great truth. The first three months of dating Mr. 100 were fantastic. I thought to myself, “Could this be the one?” He was tall, smart, successful, financially sound, and he loved nature and music. He was a mid-west boy with mid-west values, and we fell for each other pretty quickly. After two months of dating we introduced each other to our families and friends (which is quite quick for me), so for all intents and purposes, we were in this for the long term. We dug each other’s company. We went on lavish vacations. Introduced each other to great music. We were both active but also loved to chill out and watch bad TV all day. I was falling in lurve, y’all.
And then, the weird and wacky began to emerge. I have a theory that if someone you’re dating is crazy, it doesn’t stay hidden for long. The crazy usually starts to emerge 3-4 months in: that’s when the ‘too good to be true’ exterior falls away and the wounds that never healed appear. The honeymoon period had lifted, and we were entering reality– a harsh one at that. Five months into the relationship, Mr. 100 started to go dark on me. At first, he was moody, which I chalked up to him being a Cancer, but these moods were a bit different. I began to feel like I was dating Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, not knowing who I was going to get each time we saw each other. When he was in one of his moods he would go days without answering his phone. I would go to his house, concerned, and he would be in the dark: disheveled, half woke, the house a mess. I thought it was odd, but assumed it was something he was going through at the time. When we moved in together it continued for no particular reason. He would periodically disconnect from friends, and he became extremely sensitive to everything people said to him. He disengaged from intimacy and gained a lot of weight. And, while many of us would diagnose this as some form of depression, nope, Mr. 100 couldn’t admit that all of this was due to anything other than…ME. Yes, ME. He blamed all his dysfunctions on moi! He started treating me as badly as he felt about himself. Blaming me for his lack of intimacy (“you’re not sexy anymore”), and for his weight gain (“you keep too much shit in the house” and “you should start working out”). He blamed me for why he had little to no friends— he would leave parties pissed at me for ‘dominating’ the conversation with his friends— and man, was he the master at the silent treatment and passive-aggressive behavior. He’d go days without speaking to me and I would have no idea why. I started to refer to him as Mr. Mindfuck, because that’s exactly what he did. I began to walk on eggshells in my own freaking home.
I came to find out that Mr. 100 had some deep, dark secrets, and, as we know, secrets can’t stay hidden for long. Once I was introduced to his family, the secrets started to sneak their way out of the vault Mr. 100 had kept them in. Mr. 100 was a perfectionist, but his childhood had been anything but perfect. He came from a broken home, so he hustled for love and attention, and the only way he obtained it was being an academic over-achiever. Mr. 100 had framed certificates of his academic success: he had his doctorate, was a member of Mensa, became a Neuro Scientist and had a very successful career in Pharma. That’s how he identified himself, that’s where he found his worth: in his degrees and impressive resume. When he found out that I studied human behavior for a living with only a BA, and yet I made more $ than him… well, let’s just say it was one more thing he held against me. I think his words were, “so let me get this straight: people pay you all this money to study the consumer without any credentials?” Yeah, he became a real turd. But I was the asshole that stuck around for 2.5 years of that mind-fuckage and verbal insanity.
At this point, you’re probably wondering, “why the hell did she stay?” And the obvious answer is because I was wounded too. I didn’t have the same wounds as him, but my wounds allowed me to feel I was not deserving of more or better. Wounds that made me believe that ‘this is as good as it gets.’ Wounds that allowed me to think I was better off with someone than no one.
A year into our relationship, Mr. 100 suggested we go to couples counseling (PSA: if you’re going to couples counseling a year into a relationship, you’re doomed. Abandon ship immediately). He wanted to use my therapist, which I thought was weird, but I went with it. We lasted 5 sessions. In each session, I would cry hysterically because of the comments coming from this man I loved and who said he loved me. It finally got to the point where my therapist took me aside after a session and said, “I can lose my license for what I am about to say, but he’s an asshole and you need to get out of this hell. Now!” She also believed that (without fully diagnosing him) Mr. 100 had a personality disorder. Which, meant, in short, that no amount of therapy or meds would ever change him. I needed to take action, but I didn’t, so the universe stepped in and did it for me.
They say if your partner can’t be with you through the darkness, then they don’t deserve to be with you in the light. Well, the universe threw two BIG dark circumstances at me that finally pushed me to end the relationship. The first was when he bailed on me during my myomectomy surgery. The second was when he couldn’t show up for me (mentally or emotionally) after my Dad passed away– we were broken up at the time but he wanted to get back together. That’s the day I decided this chapter of my story had to come to an end. That’s when the serious healing & recovery began.
I now know, and finally have the courage to admit (thanks to the healing process and therapy), that I spent 2.5 years in a mentally abusive relationship. Me, Miss “I am strong and take no shit from anyone,” in an abusive relationship?! You wanna talk shame? I was swimming in it for all these years. I never really spoke about this to anyone except a therapist, and now all of you. But what I have come to realize is, what we don’t reveal cannot be healed. So this is my reveal and I am proud to say that I am healed, the shame is gone and the lessons have been learned.
It took 6 years to heal after my relationship with Mr. 100: to work on myself and pursue my next great love– the love of becoming a mom– and eventually dating again. Now, dating as a single mom with a son on the spectrum? Well, that takes finding love to a whole new level. The love that I found, mattered most and revealed ‘THE’ greatest lesson. I will leave that for the last blog in this three-part series. Until then…