It’s My Life – Chapter 11

It’s easy to be critical of someone else’s relationship. What is unacceptable for you, may be perfectly acceptable for someone else. As long as both partners are in a happy, healthy relationship, your criticisms are just your personal opinion. However, when a relationship is unhealthy, the criticism turns into concern for someone’s well being. For the person on the outside looking in, it can be difficult to understand why the relationship continues. Why would she stay if it was so bad? How did she not see the signs? Why didn’t she seek help before it got to that point?

I’ve asked myself those questions numerous times. Over the years, the answers have changed. The person I am today is not the young girl that I was then. I am so proud of the woman I have become. I know that the climb from the bottom was not pretty, but I fought my way back up and I have vowed to never be that girl again. I am so grateful that I held on to my love for horses and never let my circumstances force them to become just a part of my past.

I was 18 and had completed my first year of college. My relationship with my family was still strained and I was ready to start a life that was all my own. While dating was not on my radar as I was attending an all-women’s college, I found myself again falling into another relationship shortly after returning from summer break.

In my sophomore year of college, I was introduced to a guy (we’re going to call him “Ted”) from the town locals who knew the college girls were back on campus. I remember speaking to my mother on my Nokia to let her know I was on my way to pick up the guy I was dating from his anger management class. No need to discuss the dirty details, but the incident that landed him in that program ended with him breaking someone’s arm. Oh and he couldn’t drive because he lost his license due to reckless driving. My poor mother. I look back on this moment and wonder, “what in the hell was I thinking?” I still don’t have an answer.

The relationship had its early warning signs of controlling tendencies but I chose not to see them. I didn’t think it would be anything that lasted past my current semester. I wasn’t planning for my future husband. I was in college, rebellious, and living in the moment.

Ted’s family welcomed me into their home and I spent the majority of my time when not in class or at work, at their house. His mother baked and cooked meals from scratch. That was a huge plus as the college dining hall food was questionable. I was always invited to holiday meals and began to feel like part of their family.

Ted was good at convincing me to use my credit cards to fix his car or buy some new gaming system. It didn’t occur to me that he should be capable of doing this himself. He was working full time and living at home. It was always the same story. He would pay me back once he got paid.

My credit card debt was growing and so was my concern. I was not comfortable with having a balance on my card. When I started telling him no, he would be relentless at coming up with reasons as to why I should do it and how he would pay me back. It would go on for days until I eventually gave up and gave in.

The relationship continued through my remaining college years. There were things that I missed out on, one of those being my friends taking me out for my 21st birthday. Ted would not have been ok with me drinking in a bar with my friends. At the time, I reasoned that he was right and that I had no business being in a bar.

During my summers at home, we would take turns driving to see each other on weekends. One weekend, I had planned to go to a concert with my best friend from high school. I mentioned it to Ted during a phone call and he was not pleased, but didn’t make much of it. A few days before the concert, his plans suddenly changed and he was coming to see me. I bailed on my friend and spent the weekend with him, thinking that it was so sweet that he wanted to see me.

My mother was trying to be the opposite of my grandmother and allow me to have the freedom in making my own choices. Although she didn’t approve of Ted, she was not going to tell me her opinion. I wouldn’t have taken kindly to it if she had. I stopped speaking to a friend for an entire semester as she was not fond of Ted and had made a few comments that sparked a break in our friendship.

My emotional state continued to be unstable. My position at the grocery store had shifted from cashier to stocker as I had one too many encounters with being over the top with customers. My boss would leave to make bank deposits and ask me if he could leave for 5 minutes this time and return without a complaint about me that particular day. How I didn’t lose that job, I’ll never know.

I continued to dream that after graduation, I would have a horse of my own again. I would be working in the equine industry, riding, possibly training horses. Every year that passed, I was one step closer to my dream.

Ted had asked me to marry him during my senior year. I was so excited and said yes with no hesitation. We got a lease on an apartment and I planned to move in after graduation.

My future was starting to take shape! I had a job lined up with an equine feed manufacturer that would start after graduation. I had made it through all four years while maintaining my scholarships, working 20-30 hours per week, and even graduated with honors.

I couldn’t wait to start my own life and make my own decisions free from anyone controlling my life!

Graduation day!

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