A response to “I wasn’t One of the Four”
I was incorrect.
Over the six months being separated from my ex-boyfriend Michael, I did a lot of soul searching and critical thinking of the relationship that we had shared over two years. I feel as if it is vital to not only my integrity of the truth, but also my credibility as a writer to admit that I was wrong about the situation that I explained in “I Wasn’t One of the Four.”
With that being said I also want the public to realize that the article I had written prior to this was not composed of false truths or written out of vengeance. I was only trying to explore the situation through my lens as a writer and come to terms with myself about what had happened throughout my relationship with him. I also really want to press the fact that I did not write it for the purpose of the revenge–being in the confused state that I was in, thinking I had been abused (and being an avid feminist), I only wanted to be able to reach out to other women who I believed may have been in the same situation I had been in.
With that said, I now will explain what I found out had really happened during Michael and I’s time together.
We met as bright-eyed bushy-tailed freshmen in the dorms during our first semester of college (typical right?). After the first conversation we had–which was two hours long–I knew that he was going to be a large part of my life in one way or another, and later he divulged that he had felt the same way.
I do not believe in love at first sight, but I believe in human connections.
After we met things escalated quickly, we began spending most of our time together and sleeping in one another’s dorm rooms (our poor roommates). We pressed the idea of “no labels” and explained to our friends that we were just two people who were attracted to one another and spending time together (there was some monogamy involved)…but soon we finally made things “official.” Pretty sure it was even FBO by that point.
The semester flew by, as they always seem to do the older you get, and soon we were packing up to go home for 5 weeks of Christmas break (woo!). Our last night in the dorms Michael and I stayed the night together, and the next day the goodbye was heartbreaking… when I drove out of the parking lot watching him wave in my review mirror I suddenly had a terrible feeling in my stomach, like something bad was going to happen.
And it did.
Michael (being the strapping rugby/football player he was) had his nose broken several times during high school, which gave him terrible sleep apnea (I swear, the first night I stayed with him his snoring was near deal breaker point). So, he had a tonsillectomy/deviated septum surgery scheduled during the break.
The surgery went swimmingly; however, a few days later he had an adverse reaction to his pain medication and ended up aspirating into his lungs, which left him without oxygen for 15 minutes. His mother found him and began chest compressions and screamed to call for an ambulance (I was later told). This was the message I woke up to that morning from his younger sister:
I drove 303 miles to the hospital where he was laying in the ICU in a little over 2 hours, which is a drive that would normally take someone closer to 5 hours.
In a nutshell: Michael was rushed to the ER where the physician promptly told his parents to contact their priest, for he was not sure if he would be able to resuscitate him. Michael ended up in the ICU on a ventilator in a medically induced coma. After he woke up Michael had no brain damage whatsoever and both the nurses and the ER physician were shocked because they had thought he wasn’t going to make it.
Michael experienced a miracle.
However, after his accident is when things began to become difficult for the two of us. Michael did not come back to school the follow semester due to the occupational/emotional therapy he had to attend. We then made a conscious decision as a couple to begin our long distance relationship. And we made it, the second semester ended with tens of thousands of text messages sent, thousands of miles travelled, hundreds of hours spent on the phone, and 2,628 minutes spent on FaceTime–which ends up equalling out to approximately 43.8 hours.
Michael moved back and began taking classes that summer, it was the moment we had been waiting so patiently for for 5 months… but our high hopes were only diminished as things became worse.
Michael being less than 10 miles from me at all times definitely messed up my perception of the time we should have been spending together, after being so committed to the long distance relationship we had been in. I constantly felt as if I had to make up for lost time and being used to being in contact with him 24/7 started to scramble my brain like the eggs you had for breakfast.
I didn’t realize that it was okay not to be in constant communication with him all of the time. I didn’t realize that it was okay that he didn’t spend the night every single day, or even the fact that he might not want to. I didn’t realize it was okay to lead separate lives and still be together. And this is where the problem began… I couldn’t stand not having some sort of his attention all throughout the day, I couldn’t stand to be without him. I was later told that this was a form of PTSD and that my body went into the fight or flight mode every time I was without him. I was literally so terrified to lose him again that my body would physically shut down. But at that moment in time neither of us knew that, the only thing I knew was that I couldn’t physically be without him for more than an hour, and he knew he loved me but felt I was being overbearing.
Which I was.
As humans we develop our attachment styles as children by the age of 2 due to the environment we grow up in. Growing up with divorced parents skewed my attachment style, but Michael’s accident pushed it over the edge. At the time, if I had the option to surgically attach myself to him…. I probably would have, just so I didn’t have to be without him and I would always know that he was okay.
The form of constant overbearing love I was giving out of anxiety continued for six months, which ended up driving us both crazy. Soon I found myself in counseling and on medication because I knew how much my behavior was affecting our relationship, and I wanted to fix it… I just desperately wanted things to be normal for us.
Unfortunately, they never were.
Things between the two of us consistently got worse. I will probably never know the exact reason why our relationship failed– whether it was due to the lying that was being done, the tears that were being shed, or the constant stress put on us while we were just trying to figure out how to be a “normal” functioning couple.
Throughout our roller coaster of a relationship we lost friends, the support of each other’s parents, and just the basic trust of everyone around us. We sucked every individual in our lives into our deep pool of problems like a sinkhole, and one after the other every single person became involved or intertwined in our relationship, which only made it worse.
The more we broke up and got back together (which the number of times is lost to me now) the more we were burning bridges that we didn’t realize had even caught flame, until things became so complicated that we felt as if we were stranded in cinders due to all the connections that had been damaged.
Our relationship was toxic, it was never abusive.
There were those in my life that were convinced I was being abused, and I was so afraid of falling into the next generation of battered women in my family that I began to believe them. However, I was never afraid of Michael, and according to the domestic violence counselor I saw after the breakup that is a sure sign of the absence of abuse. When I was told that I breathed a sigh of relief and tears began to fall from my eyes. I knew in my heart that I had not been abused, but during that time my brain was telling me that I was just another naive battered woman that couldn’t see the situation she was in.
Michael and I were involved in what is referred to as situational couple violence (SCV), not intimate terrorism (aka abuse). There is a striking difference between SCV and abuse, SCV typically erupts from heated conflicts that get out of hand. It occurs when both partners are angry and is tied to specific arguments, so it is only occasional and usually mild. It is also often mutual, with both partners angrily impulsively flying out of control. Abuse on the other hand, which is referred to as intimate terrorism, is where one partner uses violence as a tool to control and oppress the other. Compared to SCV intimate terrorism is more likely to be one-sided, escalate over time, and involve serious injury to it’s target. Women who experience intimate terrorism are those who usually seek refuge shelters, although many of them don’t due to the fear projected on them by their partners.
Millennials, I believe as a generation, don’t even know what a distinctly “normal” relationship looks like. We have grown up being fed fairy tales along with horror stories–we may find our prince charming, but we will probably just get divorced. So it’s no wonder that extra stress has been put on us in the realm of the dating world; thus, the world of tinder, friends with benefits, and unlabeled relationships were born.
We live in a world of miscommunication at it’s finest and as we progress we begin to lose even the simple concept of having a straightforward conversation, which ultimately creates conflict. On top of the fact that we can no longer communicate with one another, we are also the generation most effected by divorce. So not only do we have difficulty relaying information to one another, but we also don’t even know how a functional relationship operates.
However, there is no excuse for being brutal to one another as Michael and I were. Yes, neither of us knew how to communicate or function in a healthy relationship, but that doesn’t mean what either of us did is excused. I played just as much of a part of it as he did, and it took me 6 months and a load of counseling to realize my own mistakes and to take the responsibility of my actions.
As women, we do have the upper hand when it comes to most relationships, whether that may be in the bedroom or just as the boss of the remote. But on a more serious note in the case of domestic violence. I am in no way doubting that women get abused, or supporting the notion that we should not believe them. I am only stating that women should educate themselves on the signs and cycles of abuse vs. individual occurrences of SCV, because accusing a man of abuse could ultimately ruin his life (which is great if he deserves it). Usually, whether the complaint was a lie, a misunderstanding or actual abuse itself, the courts will take the woman’s side.
Four women do die daily as a direct result of domestic violence. In my previous article I stated that “I thanked God that I wasn’t one of the four.” Other than the obvious reason– of me still being alive–I was right, I wasn’t one of the four. You know why? Because I was never abused.
Whenever we argued, flew into another fight, or were just inexcusably mean to each other we always thought that if we would’ve met at least a year and a half prior than when we did, then things would have worked out. If we only would have had that two hour conversation after his accident maybe we could have made it.
We really were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.