It all starts with an apology.
The first time that your partner says sorry, you'll realize that it will not be the last. Just like how that excuse for their bad behavior that you made for them will not be the last, either.
The labyrinth of an abusive relationship starts with the simplest ticks, the slightest movements. Like when they grip your arm a little too tight (tighter than usual, anyway), when they shout at you for small mistakes, or when they make you wait for them, sometimes a couple of hours, sometimes the whole day. Pretty harmless, right? But then you make excuses for them. " Oh, his palms are just sweaty. He didn't mean it," or "He's in a bad mood today, I really shouldn't piss him off," or "The traffic is always bad here. So he's late—who cares?" The moment these excuses come is the moment that the lying also starts—we start lying to ourselves so that we can feel better.
But I can't blame you—I've been there. They are wolves in sheep's clothing. Oh, how they charmed us into believing that we shouldn't give up on love. If we do then we're cowards. They've showed us, and only us, how vulnerable they really are, and because of this we tried our darndest to save them because we thought they were worth saving.
Humans have a weird fascination with broken things. We try our best to fix things, but we don't realize that the person we found in ruins is the same person responsible for the devastation. It's like picking up pieces of broken glass—no matter how careful you are, you might still end up bleeding.
We were taught to love, and loving means accepting them, flaws and all. Just like the quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. “We accept the love we think we deserve.” The people we're in a relationship with fills us with love, making us believe they're The One, and no one will love us the same way ever again. We stay because if we're not with them, who will love us? We accept the roses without looking at the thorns, and try to love all their broken fragments, but it only hurt us in return. But we tell ourselves that it's okay. That's the love we deserve.
Our emotions turn black and blue. Our feelings get so beat up that we don't want to feel anything anymore. Getting out of bed every morning gets so hard, because we always blame ourselves. That's their effect on us—even if they're the ones who are wrong, we always think it's our fault. The excuses we made for them have given them power—we treat their words like gospel, and so the lies become truth, and it gets harder and harder to tell them apart.
They dress jealousy as love. People say jealousy is part of any relationship—a sign of caring, and when someone cares for you, he must love you, right? I believed it—we all did.
At first, it will make us feel kilig if our partner is jealous. It means that there's something in us that they find worth loving, worth keeping, that they don't want to share us with anyone else. But then paranoia kicks in—"Who are you with? Where are you right now?" They'll call us names, hurtful names—a flirt, a slut, a whore, a cheater. We'll feel sorry and we'll grovel in apology, but don't you see? We shouldn't. The moment we apologize is also the the moment we hurt ourselves because we are starting to compromise our own happiness to settle in a love that we think we deserve.
They start to control us, masking it as concern. It starts innocently as first—it's just being a little protective, nothing to worry about. But then it builds and builds until it begins to suffocate us. They will dictate everything—what we should do, wear, eat, where we should go and who we should be with. They will determine how short is short, how late is late, and then our world will slowly revolve around them without us knowing it. But then, it's okay, right? It's love. We always think it's love. But it isn't.
We think they're The One—they aren't. They were the first one to tell us how beautiful we are, and that we are worth it. We get butterflies in our stomach each time our hands touch, and every kiss seems magical. But as time passes, as the abuse wears on, do we still feel the same way? Is it butterflies we feel, or is it anxiety? Is it really magical or is it forced?
So what now? After realizing everything, will we listen? Will we listen to our friends who tell us how wrong this relationship is, or will we continue to make excuses for our partners? Will we realize that this isn't love? Love isn't supposed to hurt. Not all the time. Love shouldn't make us feel less of who we really are. Love shouldn't make us doubt ourselves. And love shouldn't be love in italics.
Until you realize your worth, you'll always come back to love. But you will never feel whole.
ALSO READ: Daily Diaries: Learning How To Say No
Banner photograph from Chalk Magazine.