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Guilt Will Keep Us Together (Or Why It’s Society’s Fault)

Continued From Before

Why do good women stay in bad relationships? Is it because we don’t want to give up and admit defeat? I think its because society tells us that as women, our main goal should be securing a husband and popping out children.
In my high school Career and Personal Planing class we were told to sit down and map out every milestone and goal from now until death. As disgusted as I was at the thought of planning my entire life at the tender age of 16, I complied. What I do remember from that assignment was that I planned to be married at 25 and have my first child before 30 and since I wanted to date someone for at least 4 years before marrying them, that made my ideal age for finding a life partner 21. Twenty-fucking-one! At the age when most Americans are finally legal to drink, I would be seeking out my soulmate.

I was about that age when I met him and I’m certain that life goal was still looming in the back of my mind. We were close friends with lots in common, he loved me unconditionally and was a good person, so I thought that was all that mattered, after all, I needed someone that was good husband material. Now at the age of 27, a part of me dies whenever someone I know gets married or has kids and I visibly cringe whenever I’m asked when I plan to marry.

Why do women put these unrealistic pressures on ourselves? Is it because we are genetically limited on our child bearing years? Women are so insecure about ending up a crazy cat lady that they give in to irrational thinking.
At 21, my number one goal was finding myself a boyfriend, I never even considered venturing out on my own and following my own dreams. It was boyfriend, or bust!

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Guilt Will Keep Us Together

For two days depression weighed on me.
I returned to work on Monday a sullen version of myself as I recalled the excitement I had felt at the idea of never seeing my office again.  I felt hopeless and pathetic and life seemed more bleak than ever, as if there was no end to my suffering.
But what could I do?  I couldn’t leave the life we built together, I couldn’t throw away five years.  I resented him for putting me in my current position, for popping my precious bubble of denial and exposing me to the light.  I knew it could never be the same, I would always know my true sentiments. I took my time getting home, never bothering to say I’d be late, hoping it would make him suffer even a little.  On my way to the train I resolved to start smoking again and stopped at a convenience store in the hopes of slowly poisoning myself.

On the third day of suffering, the light was shining so brightly that I couldn’t focus on anything else and knew there was no shutting it off.  There was only one foreseeable solution to my troubles.  So I began to plan my escape.

~~~

After a particularly unproductive day at work I had come up with a plan.  If I could convince my mom to fly out the following weekend and make the treacherous drive with me, I would be okay.  I could load up my car with the essentials and leave everything else behind.  This would allow me to give my work a weeks notice and allow me time to tie up any loose ends.  I could ask my cousin or one of my friends to let me crash for the remainder of the week to avoid the awkward living situation.  I felt anxiety pushing down on me, forcing the breath out of me and I longed for release.  I knew what had to be done.  I camped out at the train station for close to an hour, crying into my cellphone to my mother.  She listened patiently and constantly reassured me, promising to to fly out on the weekend.  So I set my move date and began my slow descent into my own personal Hell.

~~~

When I told him I was in fact leaving he was shocked and couldn’t comprehend.  At first he thought I wanted to return home and transition into a long distance relationship.  When the full force of my words came down on him, so did the pain, and the guilt trip began:
You’re screwing me over, we just signed a lease.
We will discuss with our landlord, having the lease re-written in your name only.
I’m not going to be able to afford rent on my own.
There is a spare bedroom, you need to consider getting a roommate or subletting to a student.
Well, I don’t want a roommate!
Sorry, that’s not my problem.  You’re a big boy, you can figure something out yourself.
You have to continue splitting the rent with me until the lease ends.
Umm, no I don’t and I won’t.  You may keep the damage deposit from our last place and that’s plenty to keep you going for now.
What about our trip for Christmas?  I don’t get to go with you and your family?
Nope.  They are my family.  I will give you the money once I return your ticket, you have time booked off work, maybe you should go see your family.
Fine, but you have to call my parents right now and tell them.
Absolutely not.

And on it continued.  Anything he could think of to guilt me into changing my mind.  It made me realize how long I had spent letting guilt control my life.
I felt guilty about mistakes I had made in the early stages of our relationship.
I felt guilty about the lovely gifts he had treated me to over the years.
I felt guilty when I thought back on the emotional support he had provided me and to the hard times he had helped me through.
I felt guilty about hurting him and leaving him alone.
I even felt guilty that I was leaving him right before Christmas and rationalized potentially putting it off until after the holidays.
Maybe I’ll wait until the New Year, and then we have his brother’s wedding, and if I’m going to wait it out that long, maybe I should go along on our planned vacation. Before I knew it, I had rationalized spending 10 more months of misery in an unhappy relationship and all because of my own guilty conscience.  I reassured myself that there is never a good time to break up and that putting it off and pretending everything was okay all the while knowing in my heart it was over, well that was just downright cruel.  Not only that, but the thought of continuing on even another day in my current situation was sickening.

~~~

What is it about females that makes us so naturally guilt ridden that we’re unwilling to end a bad relationship?  I’ve been dumped in the past and these seemingly nice guys didn’t even give it a second thought, they were unhappy, they ended it and they seemlessly moved on with their lives.  Yet here I was, walking on egg-shells to try and make the process as painless as possible for him.
Why do we let guilt control our decisions?  Or is it more than guilt?

To Be Continued…

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Nothing Was the Same

The moment I first recognized the light forming within me was the night of the Drake concert. That’s not to say it wasn’t present long before, but I pushed it to the back of my mind and concealed it with darkness. I refused to let it shine and tried everything to suffocate it, but that night it finally escaped. He and I were at the Drake concert, in box seats with some friends. My friend had gotten tickets through a former co-worker and we somehow got invited along. It was an open bar, top shelf liquor kind of night so naturally disaster followed. He is a bartender and as luck would have it we were in the box directly beside his attractive female co-workers. Naturally, he got shit-faced and spent the entire night with his arm draped around various women in the adjoining box. This was a pretty normal scenario in my world, in his line of work he tends to be one of few men and surrounded by girls. Most of his close friends are of the female variety and by nature he is very flirtatious. Now most girlfriends reading this are cringing at the thought, but rarely did it bother me, despite the fact I have been cheated on in the past, because I trusted him and I’ve learned to recognize the signs and can pick up on shady behaviour. When your live-in boyfriend is having an affair, it should be obvious it’s just a matter of whether or not you acknowledge these signs or choose to continue in denial. But I digress… The night of the concert his behaviour was getting under my skin, because as much as I put up with his flirting, I will not tolerate it when it reflects poorly on me. When strangers look at me with pity and view me as a pathetic pushover, those are things I can’t allow. I’ve been that ignorant naive girlfriend before and I’ve come too far to go back to feeling like a walking punchline. So, in my typical drunk girlfriend fashion I chose to resolve this issue by sitting in the corner, pouting, while simultaneously stuffing my face with nachos and beer. When he caught on to my antics and I refused to budge an inch, he immediately went on the defensive. He told me I was ruining everyones fun and that I was making others uncomfortable. I suggested having the discussion (read: argument) in the hall. As we were bickering I noticed in the peripheral of my hazy vision, one of the corporate ex-coworkers striding towards us at an alarming pace. His back was turned so he didn’t see it coming and I prepared myself for the inevitable lecture about how we were making a scene and needed to take our domestic dispute elsewhere. I could never expect what happened instead. This guy halted right behind him and open hand slapped the argumentative tone right out of his mouth. My jaw dropped. This guy looked him in the eyes and said “I just met you two, but I can see that you have a good girl here and you need to show her more respect.” With that, he turned on his heals and sauntered off. A part of me wanted to high five my new supporter, but the rest of me was bracing myself for the unavoidable aftermath. He turned back to me, eyes burning with anger and my breath caught in my throat. Then the accusations began flying: how I set him up for this, how I was poisoning everyone against himHe stormed off in anger, I called for him to stop and talk to me, but he just shouted back something about talking to my “new boyfriend.” Ashamed and dejected, I discreetly grabbed my coat and walked out alone into the cold winter night, all the while Drake crooned “Started from the bottom now we’re here.”

~~~

I walked slowly amongst the departing concert goers and began texting every contact in my phone hoping someone would be free to console me. I looked up to realize I was at the train station.
How very convenient.
I talked a group of guys into giving me a cigarette and a transit ticket. As I boarded, my phone started ringing, it was my brother responding with concern to my vague text. I took my seat on the train and fell apart. It was like a waterfall, not just of tears, but an outpouring of emotions. Everything rushed out: worries, fears, insecurities, some of which I never realized existed. Others which I had never before admitted out loud. As I mulled it over, it became very obvious that I needed to change my current situation, but how? My brother advised me that I needed to go home, pack my car with my worldly possessions and make the eleven hour drive back to the west coast, to the support of my friends and family.
“But what about my job?” I moaned.
“Fuck your job,” he replied, “You hate it anyway.”
“But all my stuff, I’d have to leave my furniture”
“They’re just things, they can be replaced.”
“But what about…”
“Look, it’s clear you’re unhappy where you are now, so you need to make a change.”
Suddenly the light was glowing bright and I wondered how I had managed to ignore it for so long. The answer was so obvious, the solution so simple and it had been in front of my nose the entire time. I got off at my stop and started towards home with determination in every stride.

~~~

Once home I sat him down and recapped the confessions I had made to my brother; I lay it all on the line. A lot of tears were shed, but there was an understanding and a plan was in motion. I declared that I would leave the following day, first thing in the morning. When the sun finally rose, he left for wok and I lay in bed crying. I called my mother and my best friend, both disregarded me as being over dramatic and advised me to think it over once I had sobered up. After all, I had never let on to my growing doubts, I acted the part of happy girlfriend and they had no reason to think otherwise. That afternoon the blizzard rolled in and the snow started falling, leaving me trapped like a rat, frantic and scared. He returned home an absolute wreck.
Tears streamed down his face while he whimpered, “You’re not really going to leave are you? I know I’ve been an asshole and I need to make some changes, I swear I’ll treat you better, please.”
I looked into his shining eyes, so full of pain and whispered, “No, I’ll stay… it’s okay.”
He embraced me and collapsed into my arms while I stared off into the distance, cold, unmoving.

Because the light had been turned on, and nothing was the same.

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How it Started

At the risk of sounding cliche, it’s as if this light begins to glow in your head, heart and soul. It starts off dim and flickering, barely even there, but gradually it grows brighter and larger. You try to ignore it, but it moves down your body slowly consuming your entire being until you can’t even function. It shines through everything you do and say and burns so bright that you’re blind. No matter where you go, it’s ever present. That’s when you know it’s time. Time to make a change, time to say goodbye and at that moment you know it’s the beginning of the end… the beginning of the long dark process known as a break-up. Welcome to Because Something’s Broken.

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Introduction

Starting again is never easy, throwing yourself headfirst into the unknown is downright terrifying, but I didn’t feel I had a choice. I wasn’t happy with any aspect of my life and wished it would change without any effort on my part. One day I woke up and decided to mould it into what I wanted, I decided to take control of my own destiny and seek my own happiness. After 5 years with him, living as common law partners, I was at a crossroad. At this point in any relationship the crucial question becomes: “Where is this going?” I felt the pressure to succumb to marriage from every direction. I promised aloud to never marry or have kids, but he was convinced I would change my mind. When I considered being alone after all this time together, it scared the ever-loving hell out of me, but when I thought of continuing on with the way things were I felt physically ill. I was too afraid to make the difficult decision on my own so I tried to force him to do it for me. I pulled away and picked fights hoping he would leave me, until that fateful night when I became aware; I finally I saw my life for what it really was and recognized the strength in myself. After 5 years I walked away leaving everything behind and I have yet to look back.
 Now I observe other peoples relationships and I spot all the red flags I chose to ignore. I see people staying together because of guilt and fear, because they feel the proverbial clock is ticking and they don’t have the courage to start from scratch. I believe that the reason divorce is so prevalent is because people forge into marriage, knowing in their hearts it’s not right. That’s why I started this blog: to encourage others in my position to not give into social norms and to tell them that it’s never too late to start their lives all over again and live it the way they want to. Welcome to Something’s Broken.