My very first encounter with a toxic man was not by a first-hand experience. When I was fifteen my older sister came into our conjoined little bedroom with tears pouring from her eyes. It was not the first time I saw her cry, nor was it the last time but I remember this one time because it has influenced my thinking of toxic relationships for a few years.
You see, the reason behind my sister’s tears was a man. A man that was not good for her- toxic man.He constantly belittled her, even in front of our friends. He controlled everything about her and if she tried to resist he would manipulate her feelings.I would love to say that that was the only time my sister cried over that man or even that there were only a handful of moments when she poured her heart over him. But it wasn’t. In fact, over the last two years, she was with him I can hardly remember a time that she wasn’t either crying over him or simply being sad.
Funny thing is, he wasn’t the kinda man that was cheating or physically abusing her. He had constantly put her down with his words and sometimes, silence. He would patronize her and belittle her but as soon as there was a sign of her leaving him he would turn back into that nice guy she fell in love with. So the circle continued for a couple years.
On one starless night, my sister and I were relaxing in our room and painting our toenails when I asked her “Why?” It was not the first time I asked her that but I guess this time her defenses were down and she had answered me honestly. ”I’m scared.” , she whispered with tears pooling in her eyes. Immediately my eyes scanned her face and her body, checking for any sign of bruises, my brain already thinking of physical abuse. However, it wasn’t. When I asked her of what was she afraid of, or more so of whom was she afraid, her answer still riddles me to this day. ” Of never being loved again.”
Now I realize that teenage me could have reacted better but at the time I did not understand. How can she be afraid that no one will love her? Did her boyfriend wash her brain out that much that she thinks she’ll never be loved again? I simply told her that her fear was based on her boyfriend’s bullying and that she should break it off.
Five months have passed until she finally broke it off. Five months of our family and friends constantly telling her to dump him and that their relationship is toxic for her. This grew up to a point that we were annoyed with my sister and not just her boyfriend. It was my sister that stayed by his side, willingly. One sunny Friday morning she just barged into our room, with resolution in her green eyes and proudly said ‘‘It is done. I broke it off.” My sister’s burst of courage came to an end very quickly. She mourned her relationship for months. It was like she was suffering a withdrawal from a drug. She wasn’t eating, sleeping and she was crying almost every day and every night. Over time, slowly..very slowly she started to become herself again. Her old self. The funny, sarcastic and outgoing girl she once was.
So, this is for my sister. This is what I wish I told her on that starless night. First, if all, life after that man still exist, just as there was a life before he came into your life there is a life after you leave him. Try and remember what you were doing in your life before him. Who were your friends? What places this you go to? Were there any hobbies or projects you were working on? And even if those friends are no longer there, or those places got demolished..new will come along the way.
Secondly, no one can leave him for you. This is what I learned the hard way. No matter how much your family tells you to leave him, you won’t. Because it is you who needs to realize that you deserve more. You are more. It is not his words that are keeping you down, it’s you. As soon as you start to put a meaning to all the insults they become true.
Lastly, this is what I wish I told my sister as soon as she uttered those words of never being loved again. He doesn’t love you. I know, it hurts but it is the truth. Even if a small part of him does love you, it is not the love you deserve. Love hurts, but not all the time. You will fall in love again and someone will fall in love with you as well, but this cannot happen if you stay with a man that makes your life miserable. Don’t waste your time on someone that makes you unhappy, life is to short for that and no matter how much it hurts, it will pay off at the end.