This is a story from a friend who gave me permission to share her story.
I was 19 and madly in love. We were together for about 3 months and I knew (at least I thought I did) that this was the guy I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Everything was perfect about him and my family adored him. But then one day something changed.
It was about a week before Halloween and we were at a haunted house. I was a bit terrified. My hand was clutching his tightly as we wove around the dark hallways past evil clowns and scary looking men with chainsaws. He started to yell at me for holding his hand too tight. I loosened my grip but after a few minutes it got tighter. The cycle continued for a bit. I started to hold his arm instead, but he didn’t like that either that so I crossed my arms over my chest as I made my way through the haunted house. He got louder and demanded that I hold his hand, but insisted not to squeeze his hand too tight. He became forceful, trying to grab my hand back inside of his but I kept trying to resist. And then it happened. He snapped. His hand went back into a fist and the look on his eyes was not from the guy that I knew and loved.
I ran. I didn’t give him a chance to hit me. I just ran as fast as I could. I ran past everyone in our group. I ran past the people in the group ahead of us until I made it outside and then I kept running past businesses and along the busy streets. While running, I kept calling friends until I got ahold of one who was able to pick me up and take me home.
The next day he kept calling and apologizing. He claimed he had a bad day and he was sorry that he took it out on me. He said it would never happen again. Hesitantly, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
A couple weeks later we were in my bedroom playing video games. I always beat him in Mario Kart but this time I was a bit distracted. I was also on the phone with my best friend who was going through a breakup. It was the final lap in the final race in the flower cup challenge when I hung up the phone. For the first time, he was actually beating me. I set down the phone and focused on the game. I ran over one of the question mark boxes and received a red turtle shell. We were coming up to the finish line when I shot him and drove past grabbing first place that round. He got sixth. Our scores from the five courses were tallied up and I ended up beating him overall by one point.
As soon as he realized the final score, he threw the remote controller at the television with such force I don’t know how he didn’t shatter the whole thing. He stood up and glared at me. It was those same eyes that I had seen at the haunted house.
I ran out of my bedroom and locked myself in my brother’s room. He was pounding violently on the door. I didn’t know what to do. I just stood behind the locked door terrified. Luckily and almost immediately, I heard the familiar noise of my parent’s garage door opening. I had never been so thankful to hear their voices as I was that day. The pounding on the bedroom door stopped and I heard the back door open. He snuck out the back door. I stayed inside the room for about 15 minutes before I finally unlocked the door and greeted my parents, acting like everything was normal.
The next day I broke up with him. I don’t really remember much details. Since I’m very blunt and not good with words, I’m pretty sure the whole breakup scene of me showing up and leaving his apartment happened in under 5 minutes. It took him by surprise and I didn’t stay long enough for it to soak in.
I did my best to stay strong but deep down I was a mess. I loved him but I refused to let myself be with him, yet I still yearned for him. Weeks went by and then months. It finally settled in on him that I wasn’t coming back. That’s when things started getting ugly.
He always seemed to know when my parents were out of town and when I was home alone in the house. On those nights, like clockwork, I’d get a few phone calls in the middle of the night with a heavy breathing noise on the other end. Caller ID never showed the number of who was calling. I slept with a crowbar under my pillow. There were a couple times in the middle of the night where I’m pretty sure he was outside my window watching me. I received threats that he was going to throw battery acid on my face. He said that if he couldn’t have me, no one would.
One day in the middle of the night my parents and I woke up to the police at our door. Our neighbors happened to be awake and noticed someone outside with a long stick or bat in their hands. Our neighbors shined a flashlight on his face and he ran before the police arrived.
Up until that point, my parents had no idea what was going on with my life over the past few months. I was always close with my parents but after the breakup, I became distant. Not many people knew what I was going through. I always prided myself on being strong, smart and independent. I felt almost ashamed that I had gotten myself into that type of a situation. But now everything was clear to my parents. They weren’t mad. They weren’t ashamed. They just stood there and hugged me. They didn’t need to say anything. Tears rushed down my face. I no longer had to go through this alone.
Eventually, things returned to normal. I don’t know if he got thrown in jail, moved away, or just got distracted with someone else. All I knew was life was returning to normal.
Sometimes I wondered if I was ever going to feel that strong for anyone ever again. I was worried that I had built this brick wall around my heart and no one had the key, except a maniac.
Looking back now, I see that this experience helped shape me as a person and made me stronger. I didn’t ever see myself as a victim. Instead, that situation taught me that I have the ability to choose my own destiny and to never settle for second best. I refused to believe that there was only one true love. I knew I could love again. I just had to find him and eventually I did.
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