We’re told to “pick our battles”
I didn’t fight about how many people I was allowed to invite to my wedding, because I was just so excited to have a wedding at all.
I didn’t notice how much I was giving in until I started to realize he wasn’t giving at all.
By then, I was so caught up in the lie that I didn’t deserve more and I was no longer able to ask for it. I knew what result asking would get me, I would have to defend my position. There wasn’t a whole lot worth fighting for anymore. It was easier to just do things his way. He was convinced (maybe I was, too) that I was just that easygoing.
But it didn’t stop the resentment.
He got away with everything. I was nervous to bring up any of my complaints because he would respond by minimizing my experience, “you’re overreacting,” and making excuses. He would claim ignorance, justify his position, and put me on my back foot constantly trying to defend my position.
In the end, I would be the one apologizing. I could never see how the conversation turned around. At the beginning, I had a legitimate complaint. At the end, I was crying and begging his forgiveness, feeling like a selfish ass for asking for (what I now understand was) basic human decency and respect.
I hated coming to him with a complaint. I knew it was going to end that way. I would try to prepare myself. I would rehearse the conversation over and over again in my head, hearing all his possible responses and coming up with counter-arguments, just like I used to in college speech and debate. He would never cease to surprise me. I would hardly get one thought out when he would question my reasoning, my resolve. Before I knew it, I was so confused I couldn’t remember what I was even upset about. I didn’t even think I had the right to be upset. He would be so offended by my accusation. I was suddenly defending my right to have feelings.
He never took responsibility for his shortcomings. He never made any mistakes. He never apologized. His story constantly changed, but it was my memory that was faulty. He had a “photographic” memory, said he (he did not, and I knew this, yet still I felt “crazy”).
Folks, this is what gaslighting feels like. It’s not a healthy relationship. Taking responsibility for your own shortcomings, admitting to mistakes, are the basic building blocks of an adult relationship. If you find your partner always seems to have an excuse (however valid it seems at the time) and you’re always defending your emotions and being told your memory is faulty, there is no going back from this. It’s only going to get worse, and it will eventually lead to physical altercations. It’s not worth it. Someone who treats you like this will never see themselves as the problem or even part of the problem, so no amount of therapy will ever get your a loving partner who values your contribution to the relationship.
Just get out, there is no reason to wait. Trust me, you don’t want to be hating yourself fifteen years later for staying so long (I am working on coming to terms with the decisions I made at the time). Talk to your friends. Tell them (really tell them. don’t minimize it) what you’re going through. There is someone out there that can help you. You’ll be surprised what people will say when you finally start admitting it’s not the paradise you’ve been pretending (to yourself and everyone) that it is.
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