Friday, December 23, 2011

Relationships and Mental Health

Judging from the title, this post could turn into a book. That's a huge topic. I'll simplify and discuss some of my relationships and my own mental health. This post will not cover every relationship I've been in and how it's had an impact on my life.  Some of those will be saved for other posts.  This one is about three relationships.

The first one honestly isn't so bad. We were young. It was, of course, perceived as fairly traumatic at the time, but not anymore. I think that before the break-up occurred we were both starting to drift from the relationship. We met the summer between my Junior and Senior years of high school. He had just graduated and left for the Navy about two months after we met. The majority of our relationship was time spent apart. We had lots of contact, but time in person was limited, usually a week or two at a time, every few months. Did I mention we were young?

It was a difficult break-up but more in how it was done. He left me a message on Yahoo Instant Messenger to tell me he met someone online and was moving in with her. I returned home from class to that message. How nice.  I had a hard time with it, but as I said I feel that we were both starting to drift away so it wasn't as though it was something that really tore me up.  Honestly I've had shorter relationships end, totally unexpectedly, that were more difficult than that was.  I didn't hate him. I did hate his method of breaking up though. That's a very immature, wimpy road to take. I cried. I had a rough time. We talked, and he left the girl he had started dating. He was away for a couple months and wrote during that time. In the end though, it was best for both of us that we not get back together. 

Looking back I have no ill feelings toward him. I'm completely free of that relationship, meaning I'm over it. I've moved on. I think that this is a huge thing. If, after all this time I still had anger or bad feelings, it would be an issue. Obviously I've moved on, which is healthy and normal. He has too. In fact, he's married now, to a girl who seems to be really nice. They seem good together. I don't have frequent contact with them, but  would also have no problem talking with them if I see them sometime. In fact it would be a nice thing rather than something awkward.

This is what you do when relationships end. You get through it and you get over them. You move on in life.  To say that you hate someone or you never want to see, or have anything to do with, them again is honestly quite immature. Why let something that's obviously over impact you that much?

That being said there are other relationships that end and you should desire no contact. However, these are generally relationships that are not good. That doesn't mean a bad break-up. We've all had bad break-ups and later things have been fine. Hurtful words exchanged when something is ending is one thing.  Hurtful words throughout the course of a relationship is something totally different. Especially when those words turn into more.

Things brings me to the worst "relationship" (I call it a "situation")  I've been in. But first....

I discussed two former relationships however after receiving some e-mails from a person concerned with my discussion of one of them, I'm editing this post. I'm doing so because I'm tired of dealing with it. I feel the way I do and that won't change.

I was told that the originally posted content was offensive. My intention was not to offend anyone but to share my story, how I felt and what I thought. I didn't point out the qualities that were good (although at the beginning I said it wasn't bad until I tried to end it...apparently I should have listed all said person's good qualities). I guess because I didn't share my own shortcomings, which, by the way, I am well aware of as I have said in other posts,  I do not think I'm some perfect person without fault. I know I have flaws and that I've done things that aren't nice too.

I would like to point out that I was sharing ONE perspective of a particular situation. I was not recapping the entire relationship. I was discussing how my own feelings about myself made me feel and how I didn't stand up for myself. Maybe things would have been different; bad or good.

Yes, I told you I'd edit this post, that I'd take down what I'd written about myself to illustrate just how messed up I was...Which I have done. I didn't say that I wouldn't post any commentary about why I edited the post. I caved; I gave you what you wanted...Because I'm done hearing about it. Now, let's leave this alone.

Now on to the things that apply to another situation and that story...

First let me say... It's good to know that when all else fails, no matter what happens, a father will always be there for his daughter.  My Dad always seems to know how to "fix" things.  I don't think I've ever been in a situation where he hasn't been able to help me, or at least give me some good words of wisdom. My Mom is an amazing person too, but sometimes there are things that seem to be more of my Dad's job.  Both are loving, supportive, and encouraging...But do you think I'm going to send my Mom after some jerk? No.

So...This guy...

 I was down, fat, and lonely.  He was someone to hang out with. At first I felt sorry for him. He found me on MySpace, but had seen me around town. I heard the story of his messed up childhood and felt bad for the kid, so I agreed to hang out with him. It felt good to be admired, and flirted with. Who doesn't like that?

Here is where I will fully admit that I'm sure I let it go too far. It was like a whirlwind and suddenly it was more than just hanging out. I was glad to have someone to spend time with so I was okay with whatever it had become.

Those were the feelings at first. Great! Who doesn't like to feel good? Most people when dating or entering new relationships, or just feeling appreciated, get that sort of high. It feels good to be wanted. To someone who was living in the land of blubber, it felt extra good. When no one else could possibly have looked at me like I was pretty, it was a feeling that was very welcome. If they did they were those gross (my opinion) "chubby chasers" who were only after one thing. They seemed to come out of the woodwork online. It was nice to talk and flirt and then when it got to be crossing a line, it was very nice to send them off into cyberspace, never having to speak to them again. Oh block feature, you're a gem.

Things were okay for a while until I decided I didn't want to be in that situation. Things happened along the way that started to send up giant red flags and really started to scare me. Constant calls and texts when I was with friends and family were obnoxious. Being told I put my family first (uh, DUH) was a major pain. Leaving notes on my car when I was with friends, and then waiting outside places for me to leave (and following me) was an annoyance that turned into fear.  Messing around in cars is not a safe idea.  Following people and trying to black them from getting out of places is horrific. Speeding down the expressway trying to follow them, and then get away from them (when they realized pictures of their license plate were being taken), was especially fearful. Honestly...WHO DOES THAT? Who puts someone they claim to "love" in jeopardy of getting in an accident because they "want" to talk to them so badly?

This guy also got in my way of losing weight. Not only did he further damage my self-esteem by telling me no one else would want me, he tried to deter my weight loss efforts. He made me feel guilty about losing it...Guilty about getting healthy!!!? Horrible. Unfortunately everyone else was always before me, and I let it happen for a while. He told me he liked me the way I was. He said things like "why do you want to be skinny like everyone else?" He said that being skinny was gross. Then the truth finally came out... If I lost weight I might leave him.  His own insecurity made him act horribly toward me. His own insecurity made him convince me to be unhealthy because it was best for him. I could have been at risk for dying young, but that was okay because HE had what he wanted. Jerk much? Yes.

Thinking back, he was damn right about that. If I lost weight and started to like what I saw a little more, it would have given me more confidence. I would have started to see what everyone else saw in me. I wouldn't hide under layers of fat anymore.  I probably would start to feel good, and realize that I shouldn't be with someone who treated me so badly; someone so controlling, filled with anger, who was hurtful, and mean.

This guy would just show up at my house, despite being told not to. When asked to leave me alone, the calls would start.  One night my cousin spent the night and he had her so freaked out that we moved the mattress from the spare bed into my room and she slept on my floor. We went to bed with hammers and crowbars in hand; anything that could seem like a weapon in case he came back. I'm angry at myself for this. My cousin is someone I love and am protective of.  Yet I didn't call the police like I should.  Now I was not only putting myself at risk but someone else too. I think back to some past events and get upset with myself, but I know that I cannot change them.

I got angry. I said a lot of mean things, hoping this would make him leave me alone. It only fueled the fire. He got worse. One night he refused to take no for an answer. I went to bed, again with weapons on my stand next to my bed, and tried to sleep.  Soon I was awakened by a noise. I went out to the kitchen to find him crawling through my kitchen window. I tried pushing him out the window but he made it in.  How he could overpower me is still beyond me.  Apparently the adrenaline cursing through his 120 (ish) pound body was enough. (I know...One of those fat girl, scrawny guy situations comes to mind...still makes me laugh).

He managed to get in, refused to leave, and refused to let me leave. He physically assaulted me. Luckily when he was taking my phones apart and hiding them I got to the front door. I didn't make it out, but a neighbor heard me scream and called 911. As I was being dragged, face down, from my hallway to my room (obviously where no one would be able to see a struggle through the windows), my toe was cut. I screamed. Funny, it hurt worse than it appeared. This made him snap out of his insanity and then he tried to help me (this pissed me off). It was then that I heard the police radios. He pushed me out of the way to get to MY door first. I managed to get in front of him and nearly ran at the police.  I have never in my life been so relieved.  I was honestly afraid that he was going to kill me. I can't express how much of a safe feeling I felt when the police arrived. I wanted to hug them.

He was arrested, to be held for at least 24 hours. I didn't sleep that night. I called my Dad the next day to tell him about it all. I basically moved back home for a while. I was too afraid to stay all alone. One afternoon I was in my parents backyard, getting some sun and drinking a beer, just trying to relax.  He drove by. Once in one vehicle, the next in a different vehicle, he tried calling my parents house, and then drove by again. I got scared. I called my Dad to come home, and then I called 911.  He was arrested again, for violating his probation.  I had a personal protection order too, but I believe the probation violation was more severe. He was jailed for, I believe, 90 days.

What I don't understand is WHY would you try to force someone into being with you if they didn't want you? I realize that no one handles rejection well. All of us react, badly, in some way or another. However, trying to push someone into being with you is a little....unstable.

During that time I sought therapy. I needed to figure out why I was letting people treat me that way. The bottom line was my self-esteem. I didn't love myself enough. I didn't think I deserved good things, so I took the bad.

I also met a guy that summer. It was just after that incident happened. I thought he was cute and seemed really nice. I had a good conversation with him when I was out with a friend. The next day, when we were all hanging out (we had mutual friends), I was mute. I was terrified to talk to him. I was super self-conscious about how I looked...My hair was wavy, I had no make-up on, and I had a bathing suit on under my cover-up. He was cute. He seemed nice. He MUST have been drunk when we talked the night before, because he couldn't possibly be interested in me. So that was that. I went home, knowing that I totally blew it.

Interestingly enough, we met again at the start of the following summer....Our friends had a bonfire and we were there. I was still somewhat afraid to talk to him, but kept making eye contact with him across the fire. Finally we talked. Yes, we...I actually spoke to him! The next day, one of my friends texted to see if she could give him my number. Of course that was fine with me, so she did. A while later, he texted to invite me over again, for dinner. I went shopping during the day with my friend, so I couldn't do the dinner part, but agreed to stop over that evening. We all went out for a while, and we talked ...AGAIN!

I was realizing that I wasn't such a troll, and that good guys could be interested in me. I had learned to like myself, was on a path to loving myself, and was finally feeling comfortable enough to let the real me shine through. It was quite a different perspective than when we had met the previous summer.

We dated for a while, but it didn't last. He had an ex who came back into his life, and that was it for me. Totally blindsided.  That was hard. I was just learning to love myself and someone else came along (as had happened other times). Naturally I wondered what was "wrong" with me, despite my friends telling me everything that was "wrong" with her. In the end, on paper, I was the better choice, but that's not the one he made. And that's okay. I'm sure they had their history, he had his thoughts and feelings, or whatever it was...He felt it was the right choice. I don't hate him. I'm not angry with him. I was pretty hurt but life goes on. None of that makes him one of the "bad" guys. He's a good guy; it just wasn't what was meant to be.

Anyway, the the guy now dates a girl I know. Good luck to her. I'm sure everything is all fine and dandy now. I'm sure, like other people, he has her convinced he's changed. I also heard that the night he physically assaulted me he "blacked out."  Hopefully that doesn't happen with her. This girl has a son. I'd hate for an innocent little boy to be exposed to that. I'm sure he's convinced her I'm a monster and that he was somehow innocent in all of it...Guys like that, abusers, they're good at that kind of stuff. They have a disgusting charm that girls fall for. She also doesn't like me because I told her soon-to-be-ex-husband about his past.  I'd like to point out that I did not agree to any conversations with him or anyone about it, and simply told him that I believe that police reports and such are available for public record. Apparently this caused more drama for her. Hey, honey, you know the expression...You made your bed...

Also? Last time I checked, it is MY STORY TO TELL. I will share it with anyone. One thing that this did for me was give me strength. I will be strong. I will make my voice heard; no matter what. It's my story and my voice will shout it from the rooftops. I will no longer be silenced by some guy.

All in all, these bad experiences have helped to make me who I am. The people though? They didn't cause me to change. The crap I dealt with actually made me feel worse about myself. It was when I was on my own, able to look at things differently, and make the changes I needed to. No one but me deserves the credit for my lifestyle change.

I decided to get healthy. I decided to give up bad foods. I decided to cut down on going out and drinking (significantly). I decided to workout. The feelings I started to have about myself made me change. The first few months were hard...Pushing past that "I wanna give up" point that had always blocked me in the past wasn't easy. But? I did it. This time I decided I was unstoppable.

Once I got a taste of the healthy, happy lifestyle I knew I'd never go back. I won't.  Two years later and I'm still happy and I'm still getting healthier.

Relationships really can make you or break you if you let them. You have to know what's good and what's not. You have to know what you deserve, and not accept any less. Don't sit around thinking someone will change because that might just be your own wishful thinking. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. If something makes you feel inadequate, it's probably not worth it. Relationships can be great, and they can be hell.  Do what is best for you. You might hurt the other person's feelings, but in the end your happiness and well-being is what is important.  It took me a long time to learn that it was okay to not stay if it wasn't right for me. No one likes to be the one to hurt someone else, but you really do need to care for yourself before someone who you may not even like anymore. That person deserves to be out of a relationship that you don't want to be in. That person deserves his or her own chance for happiness. You deserve the relationship that's wonderful, after that first bit of excitement fades. The relationship will take work, but if it's worth the work, you'll put in the effort.

Also, if you're not ready for a relationship, don't enter into one. That can cause difficulty for yourself as well as the other person involved. It's not good for your own mental health and it's not good for the other person's. It also is not good to keep such a strong hold on the past. Somethings just are not meant to be. You can't force them, no matter how much you want them. Sitting around, wishing and hoping isn't good for you. Get the closure you need, and move on. You'll feel a lot better when you do.

Whatever in life holds you down, makes you feel horrible and worthless, and you feel like you don't deserve any better...Know that you do. You are worth so much more than you give yourself credit for. You can do so much more than you think. You are a person who deserves happiness in life. Whatever it is, it isn't too late to change it...But you REALLY have to be ready and willing to make the changes. It takes work. Waking up one day and saying "I think I'll do this" isn't all there is to it. When it gets hard, don't give up. You have it in you, you just have to find it and then push yourself...Hard.


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