When I started writing theNotice, I wanted to create a safe space. Its bread and butter has always been beauty content, but I wanted to create a blog where anyone could talk about the kinds of things you’re not “supposed” to talk about, in the comments or even by email.
That’s why I’ve covered everything from eating disorders to tampons to IUDs over the past eight years, and that’s why I’m talking about relationships today.
I haven’t discussed everything in my life here on theNotice, and frankly it would be weird if I had, but I’d like to be able to say that I haven’t lied about anything, at least. So, for my first post of 2016, here’s a little bit of honesty about my last boyfriend.
(Spoiler alert, he was shitty.)
Source: Happy Monsters
“If someone else is being a dick, that’s not on you.”
When people ask you about your partner, I feel like there’s always pressure to give them the answers that they want to hear. To share super-cute anecdotes about the two of you; to laugh coyly and lie about how good the sex is. It’s easy to champion how well your friends should be treated (so well! Like majestic unicorns!), but it’s so much harder to say “hey, the Nice Guy™ that I’m dating actually kind of treats me like trash” to your mutual friends, hopefully-not-mutual family, and colleagues.
Here is the other half of the story about my ex and I.
My ex was saccharine-sweet to me 99% of the time, but he would also spit words at me and make me feel absolutely disgusting when he had had a bad day. He’d use cute nicknames and tell me that he loved me, but he’d guilt trip me for making him feel bad when I flinched away from contact.
My ex would tell me that of course he worried about me, but he’d follow it up with “because nobody else in your life is going to.” He would tell me that I was being unfair by asking him to see a therapist about his severe depression instead of unloading on me, and did I have any idea how much of a burden it was on him that I have a physical disability?
My ex would call me every night to ask me about my day, but he would also finger me so roughly that I would cry, and then fall into a funk for days over the fact that my crying made him feel “useless.” He would get so mad at me for having panic attacks that I would end up cowered in the corner of my bedroom trying to hide from him, and he’d tell me that I was being unfair, because it’s not like he was hitting me.
“Even if your relationship could be worse, that’s not an excuse.”
The #1 thing that stopped me from saying anything bad about my relationship is a universal of (too) many other relationships: I was embarrassed to admit that I let someone else treat me like that. But you know what? If someone else is being a dick, that’s not on you. Not even if you covered for them in the past.
But the other thing that stopped me was the knowledge that my relationship wasn’t as bad as many others are. What I’ve come to realize over the past 10 months, however, is that even if your relationship could be worse, that’s not an excuse for the ways in which it sucks. Like, if you buy a really shitty mascara and it clumps your lashes into a gross uni-lash, you’re not like, oh, it didn’t rot my eyes away with acid, so I guess I have to recommend it to a friend now–why would you give more leeway to something as important as your relationship?
I also spent a lot of time excusing him for things because, well, I honestly don’t think that he had any idea that the way he was treating me was wrong. But just because someone doesn’t consciously decide to be cruel, that doesn’t make their actions any less terrible, and I’ve slowly come to remember that your partner’s ignorance should NOT excuse their actions.
“If something is unacceptable FOR YOU, then it’s unacceptable.”
There is a part of my brain that looks at this post and thinks no, you can’t say that; it’s unprofessional. It’s uncouth. But like — fuck that part of my brain. Fuck that part of all of our brains. I had no idea that my last relationship was messed up because no one ever tells you what level of anguish is unacceptable, so you know what? I’m going to talk about it. It’s not unprofessional: it’s necessary.
As far as I’m concerned, any level of cruelty high enough to cause mental distress is unacceptable. You’re not a checklist, you’re a person, and if it’s unacceptable for you, then it’s unacceptable. There is a wide margin between an abusive relationship and a healthy relationship, and if you fall short of a even just a passably good relationship–if your partner makes you stressed, sad, and unhappy–then yeah, I think you owe it your yourself to move on.
Source: Emm’s Positivity Blog
“My super-fun two and a half year torture party,”
I stayed with my ex because I thought that all relationships would be some degree of bad, and I was scared that nobody better would ever want me. Everyone has always told me that that was nonsense, because I’m pretty and smart and blah blah blah, but have you met women in general? They’re amazing. They’re all so gorgeous and intelligent and fucking funny, and most of them aren’t permanently disabled–who would want me?
(Lots of people, apparently. There are a lot of lonely people out there in the world.)
I gave myself three days to pick myself up off the floor after breaking off my super-fun two and a half year torture party, and then I got right back into the saddle & tried out my first-ever dating app.* I had my first date scheduled before the week was out, and while we didn’t work out romantically, we’re still friends– we text almost constantly, or at least, we did (but then he got a very cute, very dumb puppy and now he spends all of his free time crying and cleaning up pee.)
*Quick online dating tips: OK Cupid is awesome if you want to screen people for their likes and leanings; Tinder is awesome if you only want to be messaged by people you match with (which can make it a great choice if you’re LGBTQ+). People seem to be hotter and younger on Tinder, for some reason, but more artsy/geeky on OK Cupid.
I met my current partner on Tinder! And I’d tell you the full story, but it’s just not as funny unless we tell it together, so I will keep you in the dark on that for now.
If you wanted an awesome conclusion to this post, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. I am very small, and currently very sick. But I can tell you this: I wanted to share my story so that anyone out there needing to talk (about something present or past) would hopefully see this as a safe space, too. So for anyone who wants to weigh in, share stories, or get all academic on us–feel free to use the comments down below at any time when you want someone to listen.
Anonymous comments are welcome.
Source: Everyday Cute (Pusheen!)
I don’t view the relationship I described here as abusive, but if you’re in a relationship where you feel mentally or physically unsafe, please check out the following resources to get help when you feel ready. You deserve so much more than this.
Update 20/12/16: It’s been almost a year since I wrote this post, and I’d like to add the fact that I’ve since mentioned this relationship to a mental health professional. I gave him the barest amount of details, and his (alarmingly casual) response was, “Oh, so an abusive relationship, then.” For anyone in a similar situation… Please don’t write off your relationship as bad-but-not-abusive the way I did. I am fallible, and great at denial, and I was wrong.