Age 14, Fort Smith, Arkansas, USA
It was supposed to be my year. I was supposed to become stable and move on from my past.
I met this person who changed my mindset completely. We had begun dating; it wasn’t easy.
She constantly pushed me around and made me feel small. The people around me saw a change in my character. That person made sure I was the bad guy in every rough patch we had. If I spoke up she’d instantly shut me down. She’d cry and tell her parents about it. Whenever she ran away from us, she would use her problems as an excuse, as if I didn’t have any problems myself.
After awhile I just gave up and let her treat me like a puppet. She would blow up at me when I did nothing wrong. But then she would talk about how much she missed me and loved me; even though she had just made me cry.
After a few months, she finally found an excuse to break up with me. It hurt having the person who broke me down act like I was the one who broke her down. She’ll never understand how she made me feel.
All the negativity that she brought led me to relapse with my eating disorder and self harm. After it was all over, I thought back to my first girlfriend I had, how I had let my fears get in the way of our relationship. It was out of selfishness.
What did you learn?
I learned that no matter what you’re going through, you can’t take it out on others. You need to be mature and responsible enough to know how you should treat people. We only have one life, why waste it dwelling on the things that hold you back?
Response from IHYFM:
I Hope You Forgive Me
Dear “Puppet—No More,”
Wow. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story. We hope you are able to let this experience go and not let it hurt you anymore. From everything you wrote in “What I learned” it sounds like you’ve done an excellent job of taking this negative experience and turning it into something positive. That is something to be proud of!!!!
Based on what you wrote in your letter, here are a few things we’d love for you/others to think about:
1. You can’t control the way another person acts or what they say or tell other people. NO CONTROL whatsoever. You can ONLY control what you choose to do. And sometimes, that means walking away first. So if you ever find yourself in another unhealthy relationship, put yourself first. Be kind to yourself.
2. You’ve made some really great observations about what happened, recognizing that you became a puppet to please someone else. Loving yourself and loving another person means that you have a healthy relationship. No one should manipulate or attempt to control another person using guilt, shame, or hurtful words or actions or twisting things around to make themselves look better or “right” in order to hurt the other person. Tears, too, can be used to manipulate. All of these things are clear signs – DANGER – GET OUT of this relationship! Okay, yes, we get it. People are human and can say and do stupid things once in awhile, but it should never be a pattern and that person should take ownership of his or her behavior and change it!
3. Loving someone DOES NOT mean handing over your personal power to them, allowing them to take ahold of your self-esteem and self-worth and drag it through the mud. NO! So make sure you: a. Stop b. Think c. Ask yourself, am I handing my personal power to someone else or am I in control of how I feel about me? Because there isn’t anyone worthy of stripping you of your self-esteem. So don’t give it away. They’re actions are on THEM! You choose to be kind, compassionate, and caring to yourself and to others. And that means that yes, you can be hurt by someone, but please, please, please don’t give them your self-worth! Let go of the hurt. Forgive and move on to a more healthy, loving, positive relationship that is mutually supportive instead of destructive!
4. Please don’t be so hard on yourself. You said that you let fear get in the way of your first relationship and it was out of selfishness. It’s human to feel afraid. Instinct might make a person want to protect themselves from getting hurt, so a person might be cautious. If the other person is truly kind, compassionate, wonderful, then he or she will understand. But communication is key and building trust is important.
Finally, we hope you’re proud of yourself! You clearly show that you’ve learned and grown from this experience. Be good to yourself! Find that strength to like who you are, flaws and all. You deserve it!!!! And we hope you’ll find someone who’s filled with goodness, someone you’ll love and will love you back. May it be a relationship that brings out the BEST in both of you!