That felt so weird, right? I hated talking about all that… Because as I already mentioned at the top, relationships feel like they should be private… And while this is more about a crime (sexual assault) with emotional abuse and everything… It is relationship adjacent.
And that’s hard, ’cause I’m not used to talking about this stuff. And it is a weird line to walk.
And I know I shared kind of a lot of details… But there were also many left out. We could talk for days about other fights and other things that upset me (and ways I could’ve done better too).
But the point is, I think I hit the important tentposts and the main shape of the story. I don’t think I left out anything that would change the view of who he and I were in the confines of this relationship. I’m hoping I hit the right amount of sharing, I guess is what I’m saying.
And I know I focused a lot on the negative. And at some points, you might’ve even thought, “What a monster.” But the thing is, he’s not. (Or even if you think he is, he’s not one-dimensionally that.) He’s an incredibly charming man, whom I’ve seen do very nice things for other people…
He has done nice things for me. He put me on a very high pedestal at the beginning – total above-and-beyond princess treatment, and I remember at the beginning not feeling controlled at all…He was not only not controlling – he was accommodating – even suggesting going to a place for dinner close to me, since my schedule was crazy and such.
Even in the worst times, there were glimmers of his good side. There were huge specific compliments. There was sweetness in there… We could probably find text messages where if you viewed them alone, out of the confines of everything, he would seem like a royal prince. He’s not mean or bad all the time. If he were, this would’ve all probably been so much less confusing.
And these posts were hard because I think while reading them, it might be easy to say, “Well, this wasn’t so bad. That wasn’t so bad. This was a misunderstanding. Etc.”
And it is possible that some of the things were simple misunderstandings. But not all of them were. Power games were going on. Manipulation and gaslighting were happening.
[Side note: Lest we think for a second that he wasn’t manipulative or didn’t think about almost, I guess, “strategy” – he’d told me at the beginning of our time together that he had crafted every one of his text messages in the flirting stages so that they could be read as him flirting with me – if I was flirting back… But if I didn’t want to move forward, he told me he could’ve “explained all of them away” as meaning something else/not flirting…
He cared that much about being just flirting-level vulnerable to expertly craft each text, (as if, if I weren’t flirting with him, I was ever going to sit down and make him explain each one)…
So, he obviously does care about, think about, and carefully craft his words. So, when he’d phrase something in a very specific way and then get mad at me when I’d say it hurt my feelings, he had an incredible knack of being able to “explain it away” and make me feel a little crazy…]
I have been in relationships with misunderstandings and fights before. Heck, I have even been in situations with “drama” where one of us really overreacted (and I will embarrassingly admit that sometimes that person is me!).
And never has it ever escalated this much, or have fights and misunderstandings lasted this long. This is something far outside of a normal relationship spat. And I’m not 100% sure how to get that across…
But I think one of the important things here (as my friends have discussed with me as I wonder out loud, “How much is okay to share, how much isn’t?, What am I even doing? etc.”) is that it does sort of look like a normal relationship-ish… (Just one that has some problems).
And that’s sorta kinda the point, isn’t it? Part of why I share all of this is because I think it could potentially happen to any of us.
It’s soooo easy to say, “He doesn’t mean this.” “He doesn’t mean that.”
It’s kinda easy to become that frog in the water that oh so slowly boils around you.
And if someone else finds themselves in this situation, I just want you to know that you are not alone. You’re not crazy. And this isn’t okay.
We can recognize apartment break-ins, and muggings, and stuff like that easily because we don’t deal with those things – or things that look just like those things – on a regular basis.
Whereas, we deal with relationships and sex on a super regular basis. And when something happens that sort of kind of looks like that thing, it’s easy to say, “Well… I uh, I guess this was just a bad night of that thing I already know.” Because it feels different, but adjacent. That’s the best word I have.
And I hope that somehow, some way this adds to the conversation (hopefully in a positive way)… I don’t know what I’m doing. This is new territory for me. But if any person is reading this who needs to know she’s not alone, please know that you are not. And you are welcome to write me anytime.