In Rob Base & DJ E.Z. Rock’s song It Takes Two – the chorus goes – it takes two to make a thing go right – it takes two to make it outta sight. In my experience, it also takes two to make a thing go wrong. When I was watching the video, it jumped out at me that the female dancer was doing all the work, while Rob Base & DJ E.Z. Rock stood there watching her; Rob Base’s arms folded and nodding his head.
It reminded me of how I felt in my relationship with my ex in that I was doing all the heavy lifting while he stood back, watched and allowed me to do it. I had always held a great deal of resentment towards him for that reason – along with a ton of other reasons. I blamed him for the failure of our relationship. He lied. He cheated. He hurt me – physically, mentally and emotionally.
In my journey towards healing, I have looked back on my time with my ex and recognized my own short-comings and how they also led to the demise of our relationship. As difficult as it was to admit that I wasn’t perfect; I recognized that I, too, was guilty of the same kinds of abuse.
There are numerous incidents of abuse between us. The first one happened after learning that he had gotten his ex pregnant. I had taken one of his CDs and broke it in half in front of him. It was one of the few things that I could think of to do that would hurt him. I had started to do it to another CD when he put me into a choke hold (he was 6’2″ and I was 5’0″); he wouldn’t let go of me until I had let go of the CD. At the time, we were barely into the first year of our relationship and yet, I still stayed and still followed him to Minnesota / North Dakota for school.
While in Minnesota, I ended up getting pregnant with our daughter and he once again cheated on me with another one of his exes. I left him for the first time and returned home to Washington state to live with my parents. After the birth of our daughter, I once again followed him to North Dakota and he continued to be unfaithful to me. We would get into physical wrestling matches on our bed – what should have been our sanctuary.
Eventually, I left him again – I went into a domestic violence shelter, lived in motels and applied for Section 8 housing. During this absence, my ex – in a fit of rage and what I can now only imagine as pain – smashed up our daughter’s crib, dresser and toys.
While I had gotten my own apartment, I still continued to try to make our relationship work, staying with him the majority of the time. I held onto my apartment; it was my safety net. Still unhappy and unbeknownst to my ex, I got rid of all my furniture, boxed up the rest of our belongings and shipped it by train to my parents.
That summer, we returned to Portland to visit family; when it was time for us to return to school, I let him know that I was staying in Portland; I had transferred my housing voucher and found an apartment. It was one of the few times that I saw him cry. It was then that he told me that he had planned to ask me to marry him. In hindsight, I can see where it was most likely a manipulation tactic to get me to return with him and it worked – once again, I followed him half-way across the country.
We definitely had an unhealthy relationship and I definitely tried hard to save it. For him, he tried to save his relationship with his daughter – not with me – I was the means to his child. Blindly, I continued to stay for many reasons – guilt, shame, love, jealousy and fear of failure to name a few.
In the end, he hurt me and I hurt him. Neither of us deserved it. Neither of us were right; we were both wrong and two wrongs didn’t make a right. When there is such a high level of abuse and mistrust – there is no future – there is no present – there is only the past.
I had to figure out how to get past the pain and loss, how to become a survivor and how to come to terms with my own role and decisions in my life. It wasn’t until I started to think about what my ex had experienced, that I was able to accept my role in the failure of our relationship and (believe it or not) to apologize for the pain that I had caused him.
To this day, I can recall standing on his porch while he stood in the doorway, leaning on the door frame, arms crossed and not saying a word. I apologized to him – but, I apologized for me. I needed to do it for myself and it helped me to accept my own flaws.
None of us are perfect. We are all trying to do the best job we can, to live our lives, in a way that we know how – until we know better. Today, I am thankful that I do know a little bit better and even though I am not perfect – I am okay with myself.