It took me months to get to this point.
It took me months to finally realize.
It took me months to acknowledge my gut feelings and admit to myself that it happened again.
I was manipulated by another man. Again. This time by someone I fell in love with. This time, by someone I gave my everything to. This time, by someone who took…everything.
His words were well-crafted to begin with. And I like to think that it started out pure, with good intentions. That he genuinely liked me and that he wanted to get better. That he was working to improve himself and really hoped we’d be something in the long run.
Parroting my ideas, my movements. I should have seen it. I should’ve known better.
Things would happen and he’d say “how can you be so sure I’m not lying to you? How can you be so sure I’m not manipulating you? I could, you know. But I don’t ever want to hurt you, so I wouldn’t.”
And I took it as him talking about his insecurities. I took it as him opening up to me.
Gods, am I so stupid.
“I’m broken, Ember. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I’m going to end up hurting you like I do everyone else.”
“All of my exes are crazy. You’re the most put-together girl I’ve ever dated.”
“I’ve been through a lot, so I know I can be mean and abrasive sometimes. That’s just how I’ve learned to cope with everything I’ve dealt with.”
“I put you on a pedestal. You’re perfect, you know?”
I can’t believe I fell for it. I can’t believe I let another man subtly manipulate me for half a year. I can’t believe I fell for the pity party and the excuses. I can’t believe I made myself so small to please him and dimmed my own fire so he wouldn’t get upset that I had opinions and ideas.
I gave everything I had to him. I let him convince me to not have safe sex, something I’d proudly tell everyone I’d never do. I let him convince me to agree to move in together way too soon, because he got nervous and anxious when I said I wasn’t sure and he threatened to end the relationship. I let him convince me that my emotions were invalid and that I was too much. I let him convince me, even after we broke up, that I should be the one apologizing for his actions.
That my tears were a sign of weakness and something I should apologize for. That my anger is unfounded. That I’m constantly overreacting.
I remember googling “Is my boyfriend emotionally manipulative?” multiple times while we were together. I knew. I knew deep down that he wasn’t good for me. But I ignored it. I read the articles and found myself nodding along with this list and I just ignored it because “we were different”.
I still like to believe there is good in him. I still like to believe that he did love me, at one point. That he was genuinely afraid of falling for someone and didn’t know how to handle it. That he wasn’t aware of his own manipulation. That, sure, summer was great, but when we got back into the swing of “real life” he just checked out. That he didn’t mean it, and anything he did do that was manipulation was a survival tactic due to his previous trauma.
I still find myself making excuses for him, every day. Even after I read some things that he said that cut me so deeply to my core that I know I will have trust issues and intimacy problems for the rest of my life because of it.
I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed that I constantly see the good in people. I’m ashamed that I fall for pretty words and silver tongues. I’m ashamed that my genuine want to help others can end in disaster.
I stare at myself in the mirror after realizing this. I am angry. I am angry at him and I am angry at myself. I am angry that I could let this happen… again. That I could be so naive as to let another man dictate my thoughts, feelings, and self-worth. That I gave myself over to this man. That I fell in love with this man. That I believed so eagerly and willingly every single thing he said to me.
And I’m absolutely terrified that I’ll one day find myself in this same position–this position I vowed to never be in after what happened with my close friend who I found out was emotionally abusive.
I’m terrified I haven’t learned and that I’ll never learn, and I will always seek out those who can use me.
No More Rose Colored Glasses.