I Spent a Year in an Unhealthy Relationship

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From the moment I walked into that gym and saw you sitting at the check-in desk, I knew I was in over my head. You had that bad boy vibe with a hint of sparkle in your eyes when you smiled. I was captivated. The chemistry was instant. I signed up for personal training just to spend time with you. I didn’t care if you were a player, I wanted to be a part of the game.

On our first date, I was majorly disappointed. I guess the disgust I felt in my gut should have been my red flag to walk away. But I couldn’t completely walk away. Not yet.

You asked me to hang out a second time. I don’t know why I agreed to a second time, I didn’t even have fun the first time. But there was something about you. Something that kept drawing me in. Maybe I felt a little sorry for you. Or maybe I was too caught up in the rush of your bad boy lifestyle. Whatever it was, I couldn’t say no. Every time you asked me to hang out, I found myself saying yes.

You did things I didn’t approve of. You said things that made no sense. I drove us everywhere because your car barely functioned. You had unpaid traffic violations. You scraped by at the end of every paycheck. But you made me laugh. You made me laugh in a way no one had made me laugh in a long time. I remember when the cashier at Wal-Mart said she had never seen two people so in love and asked if we were married one night. You quickly said, “No” and gave me the title of your best friend.

I was heartbroken. I was confused why I was heartbroken. How did I go from despising you to wanting you all to myself? Maybe it’s because you didn’t fully want me. You would give me just enough to make me bite, then pull away. Because of that I found myself wanting you more and more each day.

I should have known better. I should have known when you came to my house, stayed a few minutes, then left with no word the rest of the night. I should have known when we made plans and you never showed. I should have known when my gut told me from the beginning you weren’t trustworthy. I should have known you were seeing other girls while also seeing me.

I don’t know why you finally decided you wanted me to be your girlfriend, but I was ecstatic. I guess my competitive nature was reeling that I had come out victorious. I felt good that I had beaten the competition and you were mine.

But I couldn’t shake the insecurities. From day one, something deep down inside told me I couldn’t trust you. As the months went on, I found myself becoming more and more paranoid, anxious, and curious of your whereabouts. I did things I’d never done before. I drove past your work because I didn’t believe you had to stay late. I drove past your apartment to see if you were home when you told me you were sleeping at your own place for the night. I caught you lying about who you were texting. I caught you deleting messages in your phone and hiding things on your computer.

You made me crazy. You made me the girl I promised myself I would never be. In a matter of months, my anxiety got so bad and my emotions so erratic, you convinced me to see a doctor. I paid a pretty penny to see a hormone specialist because he was a client of yours. You threatened that if I didn’t change my emotions and insecurities, you would leave. You told me you couldn’t handle my “inconsistent emotions” anymore. I took all sorts of medications, thinking I had some serious mental and physiological problems. I started seeing a therapist weekly. I got better for a short time. I cried less. I worried less. But the anxiety never went away. My family became worried about me. They told me I had become different. They were worried you were bringing me down. I got mad at them. I wrote them off. You convinced me to distance myself from my parents because they didn’t understand our situation.

In the summer, you broke up with me twice. Each time you told me you didn’t know if your heart was in it and you needed time to figure out how you felt about me. I was a wreck, completely and utterly miserable. I lay in bed for days crying, missing you. I called your phone, looking for some type of comfort. You wouldn’t talk to me. The anxiety and worry came flooding back in full force. I assumed you were seeing someone else. I finally began picking up the pieces to move on when each time, you swept back in and told me you had made a mistake and you wanted me back.

I took you back both times you broke up with me. When August rolled around, we were great. Our relationship had hit a new high and I was happy. I forced myself to trust you. You told me you wanted to move in together. You told me you were in this for the long haul. You told me you would never hurt me and never make me worry. You looked me in the eyes, hands on my cheeks, and assured me there was no one but me. I trusted you.

For 3 months, I felt good. I was happy. I didn’t outwardly worry, until you became distant. All of the great progress we made quickly began falling apart. You blamed it on me. You told me my emotions were causing problems and I was starting fights with you for no reason. For months, I had suppressed those feelings of anxiety and worry. You made me believe it was all in my head and I was crazy for thinking you could be unfaithful. You got mad when I felt you becoming more and more distant and I got upset. For some reason, you liked to talk to me only when it was convenient for you. You sent me mixed signals.

Some days you would call me randomly during a break at work to tell me you loved me and missed me. Other days, you wouldn’t reply to my texts at all. I wouldn’t hear from you all day until you walked in the door after work. Our relationship was on a downward spiral. I couldn’t figure out what to do to make you show me love. In reality, that’s a fool’s task. You can’t make someone love you, no matter how hard you try.

Our doomsday came when I was home from work on my lunch break. When I got home, you were sitting outside. I sat in your lap and gave you a kiss. You were playing on your phone. It vibrated. I looked down and saw the name “Danielle.” I pretended like I didn’t see it. I didn’t want to start a fight. I got up and went inside without saying a word. I had to walk on eggshells around you. I didn’t know when I would unintentionally set you off. I went back to work. You could tell I was upset, but you didn’t care. You were irritated that something was bothering me and you didn’t want to talk about it. You didn’t want my emotions to ruin your day.

The anxiety and worry ran through me all day and into the night. I remember that night all too well. You had fallen asleep on the couch, like you did many nights. Your phone was sitting on the kitchen table. I picked it up, knowing I should put it back down and swearing I wouldn’t look at it. As wrong as I knew it was, this feeling in my stomach wouldn’t let me turn away. I looked through your phone. I felt relief when I didn’t find anything. I went back to my bed. I lay there wide awake, anxiety running through my blood. Again, a feeling in my stomach urged me to get up and look again.

That’s when I found it. The messages you sent to your friend about a girl you had been talking to for weeks. You asked him what he thought and told him you were attracted to her and your “knees had hyper-extended” just seeing her picture. My heart sank that night. The tears filled my eyes as I flipped on the living room lights and asked you who she was. You played dumb. You acted like I was crazy. You called me names. You yelled at me. In a matter of minutes, you called a friend to come help you move. Within an hour, you moved everything you owned out of my house and left.

I felt empty. I was standing in a 1,200 sq. ft. house all alone. Where all of your things had been a few hours earlier. Your scent lingered in the house and on my sheets. I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted answers and you wouldn’t talk. You were done, that’s all you kept saying.

I contacted her. I don’t know why I needed answers. I knew they would only hurt, but I couldn’t have prepared myself for the pain. She didn’t know about me. You told her you were single. When you supposedly went out of town the weekend before to go fishing, you were with her. You told her things I hadn’t heard you say in months.

The worst part was, she wasn’t the only one who didn’t know you had a girlfriend. No one knew about me. No one knew you lived with me. Your closest friends didn’t know you had a serious girlfriend. You never talked about me to anyone. Everyone at your work thought you were single. More girls than I can count, and like to remember, came forward telling me all sorts of things about you. How you would flirt with them, how you told them you were attracted to them, how you wanted to take them on dates.

I felt like I didn’t know you. How could my best friend and love have betrayed me in such a terrible way? You wouldn’t even explain who she was. You lied about her. You told me it was my fault for looking through your phone. You blamed me for not being able to trust you. Even when I found out you were seeing someone else at the beginning of our relationship, it was somehow my fault. When I found out you lied about flirting with one of your female clients, it was my fault. It was always my fault. You told me I purposely tried to find dirt on you. And you got mad when I too easily found out things you had done and said to other girls.

For a year, you made me believe I was insane. You accused me of being paranoid. You told me I needed help. You pushed me down and walked all over me. You pointed out my flaws and became angry when I needed reassurance. You walked out on me when I was crying and needed comfort.

For a while, I hated you. I was so angry that I couldn’t process my thoughts. Once the emotions settled, I took a deep breath and a long hard look at the past year. I finally realized that I’m not mad, I’m thankful. I’m thankful that I spent an entire year feeling extreme levels of anxiety and paranoia so I never have to feel that again. I’m thankful that if I do feel that way again, I will know better and immediately leave that relationship. I’m thankful that I have an intuition that tells me when something is wrong and to not make the mistake of sticking around. I’m thankful that I’ve grown and matured. And I’m thankful that the way you treated me helped me realize my worth. Never again will I let a boyfriend lead me to believe I am anything less than amazing.

Through it all, I am especially thankful that I was able to walk away from you with my head held high when you came crawling to me, begging for another chance. Thank you, for turning my world upside down, and making me realize I’m stronger than the bullshit you put me through.


Linden is a school psychologist, with a passion for helping others, and an overwhelming desire to go back to her pre-adult days. Linden loves traveling, spending time with her family, and taking naps. After quitting soccer in college, she has struggled to find her identity in life and uses writing as a way to express herself.

Linden Shinpaugh

Linden is a school psychologist, with a passion for helping others, and an overwhelming desire to go back to her pre-adult days. Linden loves traveling, spending time with her family, and taking naps. After quitting soccer in college, she has struggled to find her identity in life and uses writing as a way to express herself.