Emotional abuse: My experience escaping a toxic relationship

By Amy Donohoe

When I started college back in September 2016 I expected to find someone straight away, the way Lily found Marshall in How I Met Your Mother. I thought that a boyfriend would fix all of my problems, but it was honestly the complete opposite of that.

I wanted the boyfriend experience and I think that was taken advantage of. I spent half of my college life with the same boy. It was unclear to me at the time but he was with was only with me for selfish reasons.

I was good for his ego and I made him feel better about his own life. He didn’t have a perfect life (like most people) and he made me feel bad about mine because things were going good for me. It did start off positively, but the longer I was with him the less respect he had for me.

I was made feel guilty about everything and anything, he obviously saw that I was vulnerable. The longer I was with him I became dependable and insecure. I constantly forgave him for his lies and his behaviour because I didn’t want to be on my own.

This is my first personal piece I’ve written in a long time because writing about this issue meant I had to reflect and feel everything, and I wasn’t ready to do that for a long time but I know I’m not the only person who experienced this.

I kept a poker face on for so long but I think little cracks started to show when I started to bite my nails, buying stuff I didn’t need and having drinks to quiet my mind. But as far as I could tell, nothing was really wrong.

Then I started to lose friends, I had depressing thoughts and I lost a drastic amount of weight. There was a lack of clarity about my mental health but once I physically looked unwell other people started to notice.

I started to speak up and everything became crystal clear and my priority was to look after myself and get rid of everything negative in my life. I’m not upset or I never have been for losing him, but it was heartbreaking to lose myself and everything that I stood for. What I was going on in my head was a secret I kept for a long time because I was ashamed and I didn’t want to speak up about it, but I am now because I know there are other people in the situation I was in and no matter how alone or ashamed you feel, it’s not worth staying there.

Although I thought everything was okay, he was the source of everything that was going wrong in my life, he left me frazzled and stressed most of the time. Emotionally abusive people are so manipulative and many people suffer because of them. I was constantly convinced that I was in the wrong and he tried to convince everyone that I was the crazy one after the break-up, but I think that was just to protect himself.

I felt for so long that I wasn’t allowed to speak up on the abusive things he did because I was personally going through a hard time. I thought I loved him so I dealt with the misery and once I broke up with him I realised I was missing out on so much.

I thought someday that our relationship would be happy so I kept waiting and that’s the biggest regret I have in life. Obviously, blocking this person on social media was the best thing I did.

It took me months to do it because I wanted to remain civil but then I realised that it wasn’t petty or childish to delete him. I realised that he was so toxic to my life that I didn’t want him to be able to contact me at all.

I wanted to heal from everything I was put through and move on peacefully and happily.

I still struggle to believe that people can find the ‘love of their life’ at college because I know I probably would’ve been traded in for a free bag of cans.

Being in an unhappy and loveless relationship was horrible, especially when I didn’t realise that's what it was. I am disappointed in myself for settling so quickly with the wrong person. I spent a long time with someone who impacted my mental and physical health for the worse.

It’s heartbreaking to reflect back and realise that I changed into a person certain people didn’t want anything to do with.I was quite unstable so people were afraid to tell me what was happening behind my back, which was probably fair. But this made me realise that hurting someone with the truth is better than making them happy with a lie.

I think I understand what love is since I went to college, I didn’t at the beginning. I understand that it is more complicated and stressful than it is made out to be but if you find it with the right person it can be exciting.

I am happy that I have moved on, I never went through that depressing break-up period which everyone expected me to. I honestly felt a great weight lifted of my shoulders once I ended it. I look back and I don’t think I was in love with him, I just thought that all of my problems would disappear if I had a person to be with.

I’ve had my bit of fun since ending my relationship. I became more sociable, less insecure, made many new friends and experiences.

My ex-boyfriend has shown some jealousy towards this, but I can’t apologise for how I chose to repair what he broke.

I have felt the ‘butterfly feeling’ but never with him. Surprisingly, there has been someone since then that has made me feel unrelentless, who never walked over me or took advantage, who admired my thoughts, ideas and my quirky sense of humour.

But the thing is, I’m only 20 and I have plenty of time to settle and I think there’s nothing wrong with being meticulous when choosing to be with someone.