What 2020 taught me

What 2020 taught me

January of last year I was looking at the world with a different outlook on things, I was in a relationship that I didn’t know at the time was somewhat toxic, I had loved this guy for many years, but I honestly felt like a lot of things weren’t how they were supposed to be. There was a lot of things that I didn’t see in the beginning but during march 2020 lockdown made me open my eyes to everything, here’s a rundown of every red flag.

We had met at our local church; he was making the sound. I was doing the Sunday school, and the current pastor mentioned that he needed some help with doing the words. Hence, I went along, and that’s where we first met I was 18. At first glance, he was 29; I honestly didn’t like the look of him as he seemed the typical nerdy type of guy. Still, over the months of doing the words and getting to know him, I genuinely started to get feelings for him. Still, I was quite shy and didn’t know how to approach the topic, I eventually told him, but he knocked me back because of our age difference however a year late around October time we went for a meal, and he asked me out in his own way which was to see how it goes.

Fast forward, and at this point, we had been together for about a year, and this is where I should’ve seen the signs that something wasn’t right with our relationship, for starters he made it very clear on many occasions that he wanted our relationship to be private, secondly he made it seem that me getting another tattoo would be the deal-breaker of our relationship as he did not like tattoos. So he made me promise not to get another one. Looking back at it now that’s tow red flags within the first year of the relationship; I was young and clueless. I had never had a proper relationship where we got on, and I felt like I could talk to him.

Two years had flown by, and we had had some ups and downs with our relationship, and I honestly thought I was doing something wrong or he would pint point the blame on his mental health. We never went on an actual date or at least he didn’t call it a date, there were times on a Sunday where he would get really jealous and accuse my guy friend ( who at this point I’d known since I was 13) he really didn’t like the way my guy friends behaved around me because they were around the same age.

He just thought that this guy had a crush on me and was blatantly flirting with me right under his nose and that wasn’t the case at all, my guy friend had known me for years and had always said I was his little sister, we would catch up after the service had finished. Then when my boyfriend at the time was going, I just turned out and said bye without going over to give him a hug and a kiss as he had said many times he wanted to keep us private, so I carried on talking to my guy friend as I hadn’t seen him in a while and wanted to catch up with him before I went home.

Later that night the boyfriend rang me as per usual and to say he was pretty annoyed would be an understatement, he absolutely hated my guy friend simply because of the so-called way he was around me, you could really hear in his voice how pissed off he was about the fact I didn’t say bye to him and how I made him look like a fool in front of his mum and other people that were in church because I wasn’t behaving in a way that would show I was dating him and not my guy friend. The phone conversation didn’t last for long. I kept quiet as what he was saying didn’t make any sense, but I didn’t see the point in correcting him.

I had learnt early on in our relationship that when he gets all funny its best to let him have his say and ignore him as usually he would calm down and then change the subject and either go on about what the pastor was talking about or I would probably talk about what went on in Sunday school, he had never actually told me to stop speaking to my guy friend, but he wouldn’t like the idea as it would come across as disrespectful towards him, which made no sense as he had said from the beginning our relationship was private.

There were times I wanted to post little things of us laughing on social media. Still, as usual, he didn’t like the idea as he didn’t want people who may know him or went to school with seeing it, he would always ask to see if I had any pictures of him that I had taken without his knowledge. I had a few, and he looked as I knew if I didn’t show him, he wouldn’t shut up about it for the rest of the evening, he would look at the pictures I took and ask me to delete them which I did and then after that he would ask me again if I actually deleted them apparently because it would play on his mind and anxiety so I would have to show him again that I deleted them. Still, he would have to look at least twice and made sure I didn’t post anything on social media. I honestly didn’t know why he was like this; it was almost like he couldn’t trust me; this another thing I came to learn very quickly in our relationship.

By our 4th anniversary I found out he was going to be moving back to the same area I live in and the area he grew up in as a kid and then moved not long after he left school, baring that in mind he did not live on his own he still lived with his parents, he was in his mid 30’s at this point with mental health issues and no job, in the summer I had mentioned about going to visit my dad’s grave. He blatantly put it that there was no point going to visit a gravesite as that is not what I should do, he had said I have my memories of growing with him, and that’s how it should be but then also followed it up with if you still want to go he would ask him, mum, to drive me even though he could drive himself..

Later on, in the year he told me that his parents had to start looking at houses and wondered if I had seen any decent houses for sale, I later came to find out that his mum had made an offer on a house which was just up the road from me which all in all I honestly didn’t mind until they actually moved. His little ” brutally honest” remarks came back with a vengeance, I had already had enough of his remarks, and I thought he would stop after a couple of years. Still, oh no they came back and made me feel so insecure, there were times where he would bring up that I either smelt a bit funny or that my hair was dirty and if I had showered.

Honestly, by this point, I had stopped caring about wearing makeup or even making an effort for him because apparently, my wearing perfume would make him itch, having hair spray in my hair would make him itch, I stopped wearing makeup. Still, it is not he ever took much notice, he hated kissing me with lipstick on too so on the days I would see which were only two days being in mind I would shower and make sure my clothes had been washed and didn’t have a smell to them otherwise he would make a comment and then later on that night tell his mum. The next time I would see her she would ask about how I wash my clothes or something similar to what he had said to me, but obviously, he found it funny whatever he would say and follow it up with some utter rubbish like I’m only saying this, so you know better.

My whole attitude towards the church and my guy friend had changed because his mum would be reporting back to him. I no longer could be myself around him, he was my big brother, and I had to act like I didn’t want to be around him, I had let my boyfriend’s feelings towards a guy I had known for all of my teenage life affect the way I was around him.

Whilst I was doing my second year of hairdressing I had been talking to one of the girls I was close to about how I wanted things to change with me and my boyfriend as it seemed like what he said goes and that was it since we had started dating back in 2012 things were still new and fresh but 5 years in things hadn’t changed at all, all that had changed was what days we would see each other and him moving and living a few doors down from me. I had said that I wanted to take things; further, we had been together for 5 years, and we had talked about taking things further when I was ready to, and when I was I knew what I wanted. So with that, I spoke to him about to within seconds of me saying it, he turned me down assumed that the girls at college were all talking about being intimate and that’s where I had gotten the idea from and also said it wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be and once again made me feel very insecure but as per usual what he said goes.

We always did the same thing every anniversary, Christmas eve, boxing day and new years eve I would go over to his for a few hours. We would do what did every year, and every time we met up actually, the only difference was on Christmas eve, his parents would go to his sister’s. Still, we would never go as far I was aware we could’ve gone, but because I hardly knew them ( mainly down to him again ), we never went.

My mum had been showing signs of being unwell. Still, we weren’t sure about what was going on. As I spoke to the boyfriend at the time he would tell me the usual which was to pray about it and the lord would help, now I’m not a very religious person and nor is my family, but I had become a Christian a while ago but never as much as him. There were times when he would be on his soapbox about things whilst talking on the phone, and I would zone out because I didn’t want to listen to him quite frankly.

Fortunately she was slowly on the mend and I would carry on doing what usually would do whenever I went to his and my sister would stay in and be with her while I was at his, there were times where my sister couldn’t figure something out or my mum wanted to know something and as I spent the most time with her I would probably know so she would ring me to find out or she would drop me a message and boy did that annoy him, honestly I didn’t see the problem but according to him it was our time and she was interrupting that. The way saw it was what if my mum had a seizure or something and my sister was ringing to tell my to come home as she’s now exhausted and wants to go to bed, he would so upset if he knew that if my sister didn’t tell me about my mum.

Around the 6 year mark, there were little things he would say that honestly made no sense whatsoever I had been volunteering with the care leavers team for quite a while now and he had brought up the fact that I am doing this all mostly for free and wasn’t getting paid which in all honesty I didn’t care less about

At this point, we had been together for 7 years, and people would always ask if we’re going to get married and all that jazz but we had talked briefly. He had somewhat skipped over it as he said I was still young ( I was 24) at the discussion time. He said that would rather be financially stable before making any other commitment like that. He had also once said that it was just a piece of paper. It didn’t really mean anything even though his parents are married he still didn’t see anything in it.

In February of 2020 my mum was admitted to hospital with pneumonia the two weeks she spent in hospital, me and my sister would go and visit her and sit with her and do anything that could help release some weight of the nurses shoulders , we would be there from around 9am in the morning until the end of visiting time at 10pm. the two weeks felt like they would go on forever and it sort of seemed my boyfriend didn’t believe i was going to the hospital or something as like clock work he would text me to ask if i was going to the hospital or if i was already there, which in my head i thought well where else would i be.

After my mum was discharged my phone I had at the time had slowly stopped working and would turn its self off at 50% and so like my normal routine I would do the food shop for my mum, come home and watch a bit of tv as she had such disturbed nights at the hospital with being repositioned every so often, she was very excited. So she would sleep a lot for the first couple of months, I couldn’t be on my phone as much as it would just turn its self off and I was happy to watch whatever was on tv as I had missed quite a bit from visiting my mum.

Fast forward a few months, and I had gotten back in touch with somebody I used to work with and who I interviewed the year before, we had started to become friends when his mum had passed out in a restaurant, and I just happened to mention it to my boyfriend as I was trying to make conversation as I had nothing to really to say as I hadn’t done much. The first thing to come from my boyfriend was ” why are you telling me for” it was like I was talking about this guy because I fancied him or wanted to make him jealous which wasn’t the case at all.

the lockdown had just begun and i had a lot of spare time on my hands as well as it gave me and excsue to get out and do a bit of exercise and it really made me open my eye to how much my own boyfriend was trying to control what i did, what i did or didn’t post on social media it was like he had stopped caring about how his words were effecting me as long as he was right and he got his say, i would have to go with it and not di anything else which honestly made no sense, i had mentioned the guy i had become friends with again and my boyfriend just asked me out right if this guy was trying to muscle in on our relationship and if i was seeing somebody knew as i wasn’t messaging him much when the truth was i had gotten fed up of his attuitude towards everything. so i made the difficult discion in Augast to end our relationship becuase after all these years i honestly could take how little he thought of me and how he didn’t understand what i was doing.

I was fully expecting to be upset or something; I had predicted that he would ignore me from now on as he had no reason to contact me anymore, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders as I didn’t have a walk around him on eggshells I could finally be who I wanted to be at the age of 27, I had the rest of august to figure out what was next for me I knew I wanted to find my feet in the world. I wanted to do something to make the end of our relationship real so I felt like a naughty child doing something out of spite, but I felt like by finally getting another tattoo after all these years was the way to do as he never liked them. Still, it was something I wanted, and for the first time in many years I was excited about something, I didn’t have to hide what I was doing or say on social media as I didn’t have him judging what I do.

When I reflect on everything he made my experience of being in care and my dad passing away at a young age for me being nieve and not knowing how to stand up for myself as well as my learning difficulties he would make me feel very dumb like he knew more than me because he was older, I had the chance reconnect with my friend from church too. When churches are finally open again, I won’t have to watch how I behave because it now has nothing to do with him and his mum.

I now know I don’t need any guy to make me happy, I am who I am because of everything I have been through I am stronger because of it, for seven years I had the same guy knocking down my confidence and my self-confidence but slowly but surely I am building it back up. 2020 lockdown taught me to be myself and not to let anyone drag you down to their level.


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