I Once Knew What Love Was

A 10 Minute Read!

I once knew what love was. Before he took advantage of me. Before he verbally made me feel less of myself. Before he thought I could be better than who I am, but only on his terms. I used to love him. I caved when I saw him. He made my heart race and I’d silently sweat in excitement. My gaze could hardly look away, because I thought that if I blinked he might disappear, and just how lucky I was to have landed such a man.

I used to love him while he picked and prodded at all the things that made me who I am. Even when I felt like I wasn’t good enough for him, the way he’d pick at me made me feel like I truly wasn’t as good as I thought I was, then I started to feel that maybe I landed someone special, because I was clearly beneath dirt.

I used to wait patiently everyday for him to come home from work, hoping to see his face light up when he saw how long it took me to look nice for him. Seeing him made me light up. I loved his attention, no matter how little. I felt that’s all I was worthy of, since he was usually too busy to notice me at all. I loved him still after the fact that he ridiculed the time I spent on my makeup vs what I hadn’t done in the house yet. I still loved him.

I was so unworthy of his love, but waited every night for him to touch me, because sexual encounters were all I had to know he wanted to give me attention and love, I felt worthy of his time and attention then. I felt like he still loved me.

I watched him grow into a remarkable and very likable man. Everyone loved him, and I mean who wouldn’t? Extroverted and charismatic, he was elite in my eyes, my VIP. I felt special to have been with such a remarkable man, while I was the pieces in the trash can.

He’d never hit me, but occasionally broke things when we would argue about me needing more love and attention. Arguments would break out and would leave me crying every single time. He never cried though, he was too noble and strong for that. Crying is for the weak or emotionally unstable ones, but I still loved him.

He never verbally abused me, but was great at making me feel like my spouts of accomplishments were laughable and pointless. I’m not allowed to be successful, have my own thing, or threaten his competitiveness. He likes it when I’m weaker and unstable and I have to rely on him while I find everything I do in life pointless, to the point where being alive is pointless. No one will ever love me. No one will ever love TRASH.

The emotional abuse started to come forward and I came to realize that I was being beaten down until I had absolutely nothing to give. I had no more joys in life. I had no more interests. I had really no friends. I had no outlet, no hobbies, nothing. Everything I was once interested in, became a painful reminder of why I’m such a terrible failure in life. I ran out of energy, ran out of steam, ran out of interest and ran out of caring anymore.

I still loved him. To me he was handsome and successful, oh how I didn’t deserve anything other than him, only he would want someone weird like me, but my light slowly faded away. I became his shadow. I was an object of reflection to him. I wilted in misery and plummeted into the darkest depths of internal death.

He would lift me up and make me feel good at times, before I realized they were things to be used against me, now it’s hard to accept anything from anyone, even love and support. I wanted to believe he wanted me the way I wanted him, that maybe one day he would wake up and realize how amazing I was to him and smile at the thought of us. I dreamed every night he would wake up feeling different about me. That he could see me for who I once used to see myself.

I never knew any different about him, because I lived in lies about love my whole life. I convinced myself that what I was going through with him was absolutely normal, and that I had to do everything I could to learn to deal with it, since I made the choice to commit. It was my punishment. If I leave, I’m trash, I am no one, I get nothing and no one will ever love me again, because I’m damaged, broken and scared of what someone else will do to me. 

Begging him to love me, begging for time and attention, begging for affection and to be accepted were all attempts that failed. He loved the idea of me, but he didn’t actually love me. He loved being successful and often used work as a tool for why he couldn’t put more effort into us. He had a mission, a stable future, but he didn’t care about neglecting us in the process. Was I to wait until retirement to receive such love and affection? Was I to hope he wouldn’t pick up another job and wait again for when he was ready to love me?

When I awakened from this dream, I realized I had nothing but love to offer. I couldn’t be educated, I couldn’t be successful, I had to spend my time wisely, I couldn’t work and I couldn’t have friends. Maybe I could have all the things, but not without heavy criticism until it was no longer worth pursuing. My emotional health plummeted and I began to think that this was just how the rest of my life was going to play out. I hated myself. I resented myself. I was such a failure and if he left me, I would have nothing, just how I came in. I hadn’t moved up in life, although I grabbed onto things I tried to hold onto for as long as I could, until my grip strength gave out.

Deeming toxicity to be normal was something I stayed blind to, because I was taught that pain and suffering is what a relationship looks like. Don’t cry, just learn to deal with this pain long enough to become bitter and miserable. That was me. My light faded and I lost myself in the darkness. “She’s so miserable.” Yes, I grew into an eternal depression. I couldn’t recognize myself anymore. I lost my identity. I felt alone, even behind all my smiles and laughs amongst the public, I immediately wilted when I arrived at “home,” the place that didn’t feel like much of what I always imagined a loving home would feel like. I dreaded getting out of my car. I dreaded the heavy sadness that consumed me. My internal being pushing me to drive away every time, but I couldn’t.

When I hear stories of women in similar situations, inside I’m screaming for them to run, but instead I listen. I know the story. I know it has a chapter that never seems to end. Normally, if someone asked for my advice, I would simply say they deserve better. However, they likely may never leave.

I wanted to love someone. I really did. I wanted to engulf my existence feeling a love so real and authentic that I would never question it. I wanted to laugh until my belly hurt. I wanted to be seen, heard and supported. I wanted someone to caress my face and tell me how beautiful I was, but it seemed as though that was just the fairytale that I read in books when I was a little girl. Surely someone else wanted to feel this way too, because they envisioned it and turned it into a book.

I wanted to feel comfortable and safe with someone. I wanted to trust that when they said they love me, that they meant it. Instead, I’ve been casted mediocre love. Just the idea of it and never the real experience. I don’t want to feel unloved ever again. I don’t want to feel little…

Bound by the imaginative chains holding me down, my mental and emotional health disintegrated and I no longer had any energy to fight and no energy to leave. It was this continuous trap of deception and like a maze, there was no way out, just different paths that all led to a dead end or back to the same spot. Like groundhogs day, it just kept repeating over and over, not really getting any further with every passing day. There was such a pain, that eventually everything went numb. I felt nothing, and not just nothing, I lost the ability to feel all together.

Feeling empty was just a feeling, surely I could feel something? My spirit had left my body some time ago and my body operated on autopilot. Like I was there, but wasn’t. For him, I felt nothing, for anyone else, I felt nothing. This empty feeling took over my ability to love, like a black cloud hovering over my body, it took away any feeling I tried to ignite, but it wasn’t long before the cloud absorbed the feeling of feeling.

As my days go by, I wonder if I exist at all or if I’m stuck in a mirror dimension that I was casted into, looking out from inside at the life I should have had or maybe even deserve. Watching a version of me that was strong enough to leave, falling in love, happy and laughing. All I can do is watch myself like a movie, wishing I could be that girl as her beloved sweeps her off her feet and shows her what true love is. I bang on the mirror’s glass screaming and crying to be seen, heard and saved, but she doesn’t hear me, she doesn’t even look my way.

As I wilt without water to aid my growth, I am tortured by my imagination. I’m bound by a contract I was too naive to comprehend and readily manipulated that I would be cared for by my captor. My journey doesn’t end, but there are days I wish it would end all together. I can’t help but wonder if anyone will ever notice me or if I’ll be strong enough to survive.

I once “thought” I knew what love was, but in reality my idea of love was merely a mirage…

©️ 2023 Riva Gijanto. All Rights Reserved. This is my hard work. Please do not steal, copy, recreate, manipulate or use its authenticity in any way.


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