This story picks up from where I left off in my last post. If you want to start from the beginning, check out Back to the Real Me.
I remember that as I was preparing to make my exit from my life in San Diego, I didn’t want to take much with me. I shipped boxes of clothes, shoes, and important items ahead of me and packed everything else into my tiny car. I was totally fine with leaving the rest. It’s surprising how much you can fit into a VW Beetle convertible! Leaving a bunch of stuff was just another chance I had to lift some major weight off my shoulders.
Before I got wrapped up into this relationship, I proudly only possessed what could fit in my car. When I moved, and I did often, I’d give away a bunch of stuff, load up my car, and go. Then I’d have fun furnishing my new place with thrifted items. I’d collected a few things I’d kept along the way as I got a little more settled (a bed, for one), but for the most part I was still all about living freely. My focus was spending my time and money on experiences rather than things. Then something changed. Unfortunately that something was me.
You see, I wasn’t good enough for the person I was dating. I didn’t dress right, wear my hair the right way, make enough money, and I was much too fat. I was asked as soon as I would walk into their home for a family dinner not how I was or what was going on in our lives, but “how’s business”? It was a not so subtle way to point out that I wasn’t making as much money in my business as they thought I should be.
I was constantly made to feel bad about myself, even receiving birthday cards that made fun of my weight. There were constant jabs like these. And one day I finally caved. I had stood my ground, telling them I wasn’t going to diet for them, but in the end I lost the battle. They wanted me to use a meal replacement program they had seen advertised, because they thought I would lose a lot of weight quickly. Then I’d be less of an embarrassment to them.
These people, my partner’s parents at this time, made fun of people constantly. And they weren’t quiet about it! I can now see how it wasn’t ever really about me. It was definitely their problem, not mine. But their behavior was horrifying, and yet for some reason, I stayed in that relationship. I let them change me. I started obsessively dieting, buying fancy things I couldn’t afford, ignoring controlling and abusive behavior, and trying to keep up with their impossibly ridiculous standards.
I wouldn’t grasp the full impact of this for some time. Even now, as I write this several years later, I’m realizing different ways this affected me and how I thought of myself, and decisions I would make because of it. But when I did finally decide that I was going to leave this person (and their parents), it was like all the lightbulbs came on at once. I couldn’t wait to get further and further away from these people and this life. So, I just kept driving.
If you are still reading, thanks for letting me share a part of my story! I want to encourage you, right now, to stop and take a deep breath. Ask yourself, am I living the life I want, or the life someone else wants for me? Am I in a safe and nurturing environment, or am I in a situation that I shouldn’t be in? It took nearly three years for me to finally listen to my family and decide to drive away. Don’t wait. Be honest with yourself, and if you need to recalibrate, do it! I am not a licensed counselor, but please feel free to reach out if you need support on any of this. I know from experience that even when you know something isn’t right, it is not easy to leave (and stay gone).