Daphne’s ex put her on a pedestal, dampening her insecurities and fortifying his false love, only to shatter that pedestal just to watch her fall.
When Daphne would visit my house, we usually set at my kitchen table and usually ended up talking about more serious personal matters, which were discussed with nothing but understanding and support. During these conversations, Daphne often delved more deeply into her former relationship and the specific behaviors of her ex. She revealed that he emotionally and verbally abused her. I believe he did more than that, but she never admitted to physical abuse. Daphne told me that her ex had a certain power over her that she had a hard time freeing herself from. The $27,000 loan that she gave him only added to that control, as she felt like the only way she was going to ever see that money again was to continue to be present in his life. Daphne felt that he had strings attached to her that he would pull like a puppeteer to keep her in line. She never felt completely free from him.
At the same time, she would always excuse his behavior and the reasonings for his treatment of her. When Daphne was critical of him, she would often follow up with apologies for his actions and would also state that she would always love him. She freely admitted it was some sort of Stockholm Syndrome for her (see the quotes I posted about this) and acknowledged that she herself knew that her residual feelings for him were incomprehensible. Even know she understood that her feelings for him were a prototypical emotional response to abuse, she still did not completely denounce her relationship with him. Despite my own feelings for Daphne, I always tried to support her in her struggles with her former relationship. I listened intently when she discussed her relationship, validated her emotional responses, and assured her that it was okay to still have feelings for him. She never received this understanding from her friends and family, which is something I think she desperately wanted. While I did not comprehend her continued feelings for her ex, I did actually believe it was okay to still have feelings for him. I think the best advice I gave her was as follows:
“You will only move on from him when you are ready to, no one else will be able to tell you, you will know when you know.”
My Relationship With Depression
The above advice stems from those who struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction and my own attempts to quit smoking. If you attempt to quit based on pressure from others or society, you are likely to fail. The advice also comes from my experience with my first girlfriend, Melissa, who was the only other girl that caused me great pain when we ultimately parted ways. As I’ve stated before, when I was an adolescent I was very self-conscious, sensitive, and shy. I was insecure, and lacked interpersonal confidence, particularly with females. Even though I was part of the popular crowd in high school, I always felt something was a little off and different with me. I felt socially awkward, like a goth, punk, grunge, or emo kid, but I dressed like a yuppie and was part of the “cool” crowd. I felt I later concluded that some of that feeling of being off was depression. Although I wasn’t particularly sad in my pre-teen years, I think the depression manifested itself by making me feel slightly unusual. When I hit my teenage years, I was flat out sad and felt messed up in my head. However, at the time, I never attributed it to depression, which was not discussed much back then and something the majority of society did not really believe in.
Love vs. Need
The purpose of highlighting my deficiencies above is to point out how they exacerbated the pain I felt when Melissa broke up with me. Also, they made me confuse love with need and desperation. The battle of love vs. lust is a prevalent relationship theme. The confusion of love vs. need is a topic less visited. I thought I loved Melissa because I needed her and couldn’t imagine being without her. Well, I needed her and couldn’t be without her because I was insecure and could never imagine there could be a new life and other girls after her. At the time, I thought all of these feelings equated to love.
I had to be with Melissa because I literally could not live without her. Consequently, I tried to kill myself when she first broke up with me. I believe I was 19. I swallowed an entire bottle, around 100 tablets, of Prozac. I walked my dog and sat in my car. I was at my parents’ house, home on summer break from college. I fell asleep and other than peeing myself several times nothing happened. I thought it was a miracle. For years, maybe 15, I did not understand why I didn’t die that night. When you see a psychiatrist, they always ask you about suicide attempts. I have seen many psychiatrists in my life and only one explained why I didn’t die. It turns out that Prozac, unlike most anti-depressants, is not lethal and is essentially composed of salt. I was pissed that no other doctor told me this before. I felt like they betrayed our therapeutic relationship.
Knowing When To Let Go
In any case, Melissa eventually became friendly with me again after a little time had passed. We did not officially date again, but we talked on the phone and hung out whenever I would come back home. This is really a cruel thing to do to a former partner. Melissa had me on a string by providing an illusion of hope. Of course, my illusions are not her fault and she probably felt like she was helping me by staying present in my life. I desperately longed for a call from her or to see her again. It gave me peace, when otherwise feeling anxiety and sadness. Once when Melissa was going to go to Las Vegas she told me she would call me sometime when she was there. I still had a hard time thinking about her partying and being around guys. Jealousy would consume me. So when she went to Las Vegas, I was filled with anxiety waiting and waiting for her call. Over three days, it never came. She probably thought nothing of it, but it is amazing how even a little phone call could dictate my happiness and mental state. It created so much power over me. After she got back from Las Vegas, she called me. I did not answer. I never spoke to Melissa again. I had a relationship epiphany and finally felt it was time to let go forever. An incredible weight was lifted from my soul and I felt so light and free on the inside.
After her thoughtlessness in not calling me, when she knew it would ease my mind, and recognizing the control she had over me, I finally realized that it was time to end the relationship with Melissa entirely and permanently. After being in a state of ambiguity and distress for so long, I felt the power within to end it and move on. I could not have come to that conclusion earlier. I wasn’t ready, despite everyone else telling me to just get over it. I could not move on from Melissa until I felt it for myself. I believe Daphne was in this state of limbo with her ex and why I told her it was alright to still gravitate toward him. I told her “you will know when you know” because of how my relationship with Melissa finally ended. I knew when I knew.