Maybe It Isn't Love
I struggled with depression through a majority of my teen years, it beginning in the sixth grade and lasting for several years after, peaking in the ninth grade. I was unhappy with myself and I felt hopeless. I self-harmed and nearly committed suicide, though my mother intervened.
I didn't have many friends during the time, either, and I often felt alone in my struggles. When I did make friends, I would quickly drift away from them and return to my loneliness. By the time I reached the ninth grade, I knew no one and had no desire to.
Until I met him.
He was funny, handsome, and always knew what to say to make me smile, and he was the first person who could convince me I had worth in a long time. I'll call him Jasper*. He was in nearly all of my classes, and we quickly grew close, spending all of our time together. I was genuinely happy when I was around him.
Jasper and I told each other everything, and it seemed he and I were exactly the same: we liked the same movies, listened to the same music, enjoyed the same hobbies. Even our political views lined up. It never occurred to me that I was always the one who had to share first, and that he might have been mimicking my interests in order to gain my trust.
And while he was perfect in the beginning of our friendship, he began to show his true colors after a few months. It was a light slap here, a little kick there, and I convinced myself it was his way of flirting; after all, he showed interest in me. I ignored it until I began to develop bruises and scratches, and I told him I didn't appreciate it. His response? He hated me.
I was hurt, in disbelief that he could have said such a thing to me, but I left him alone. I was used to losing friends. That only lasted a week or two, though, because he was soon back at my side, begging me to forgive him. He said he didn't mean what he said, and that he would die without me. Immediately, I accepted him back into my life and told myself he was telling the truth. I didn't have any reason not to believe him.
After that, though, things got progressively worse. The occasional hitting turned into a daily occurrence, always leaving marks, always apologizing and promising he wouldn't do it again, always happening over and over and over...
Then he began to touch me in other ways.
We would sit away from others talking amongst ourselves about everything from class to our future ambitions -his responses always reciprocating my own- when suddenly his fingers would brush my knee, move up my thigh, and towards my waistband. I'd tell him to stop and he'd laugh before setting my legs on his lap, telling me he loved me, and if I loved him I wouldn't argue. I was conflicted, never wanting to let him do these things to me, but desiring the human connection that had distracted me from my mental illnesses. So I let him.
One day, we sat alone together in an empty room, chattering about dreams and fears, when he asked if I was afraid of rape. Something in the atmosphere changed, and he moved closer to me. I began to realize what was happening as I slid my chair as far from him as I could, but he had me in the corner. I was trapped. I didn't know what to do, and I prepared for the worst when someone I vaguely knew came in. He had heard everything and pushed Jasper away from me, yelling at him to leave me be. When he turned around, he told me to leave, and I ran, terrified. I still don't know what he said or did to Jasper, but he never molested me again.
No matter what he did, though, I still stayed with him, agreeing when he officially asked me out. He continuously hit me and told me he didn't care about me, and blamed me for his depression. He threatened himself when I said I didn't want to be with him anymore, and I could never bear to leave.
I stayed with him for a total of six months before I began to make other friends who showed me I didn't need Jasper to be happy. Slowly, I came to terms with myself, and only after that was I capable of leaving Jasper and never looking back. I was so afraid for so long of my own emotions that I allowed a toxic person to prey on me, all for a moment of happiness. He taught me that things are not always as they seem, and that we cannot let ourselves be taken advantage of because someone promises happiness. I stayed for those moments because it seemed like they outweighed the loneliness I felt without Jasper, but what I didn't realize was that a so-called love is never worth sacrificing your body and your independence. I'll never enter a relationship knowing I'm mentally unwell again; it can never be healthy.
If you ever find yourself in a situation like my own, never hesitate to leave and find the help you need. You may not realize it, but you have an undefinable amount of self-worth, and you should never subject yourself to the abuse of others for a promise of happiness. Professionals are available to help you 24/7 at the following numbers:
(855)866-5266 (crisis hotline)
+1(800)799-7233 (the national domestic violence hotline)
Additional help can be found at your local church, hospital, or mental health clinic.
Never be afraid to get the help you need.
*Names have been changed.
© 2019 Caitlin Biggs