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Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Often times we look back at a certain point in our lives with regret. As we grow old, our perspective of the world is altered by our own experiences, motives, and maturity. Love is one of the most beautiful things we can discover within ourselves and give to the world. Depending on peoples own experiences on love, it gives everyone different kinds of emotions. But love can also be destructive and mentally exhausting. Many people have been around negative, unhealthy, toxic behavior and to some extent, tried to normalize it. This environment has started to be normalized by people, they don’t recognize how unhealthy it is. You validate, rationalize, and sweep issues under the rug because “this is just what happens in relationships.” I constantly have asked myself “Have women lowered their standards? Have I lowered my standards when loving someone? “Let me just start off by saying it was never my responsibility to shape or mold a “man”. Yes, I will admit I am a victim of forgiving too often, giving endless chances, and overlooking the bad traits in a person. But my standards have changed, and my self-esteem has grown.
It was the night before his birthday and I laid in my room watching the clock on my phone. I thought to myself, “he always does this. I don’t doubt that he’s leave me hanging on his birthday, it’s something he would do. “4:00 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 9:00 pm. Then around 11.30 p.m. he finally texts me he’s outside waiting for me. I go outside my house and we sit on a bench, I look over to him and asked why he took so long. He replied to me with “sorry, I went to go ride quads with my friends and I lost track of time”. He looks over and smiles at me and says, “Babe I had so much fun, I wish I could’ve stayed longer”. I turned my back to him. “I wish you would have told me before instead of having me wait like an idiot, and plus we made plans and you chose to go with your friends.” I said, disappointed. A couple minutes pass, holding my breath, I wait for him to say something to me. “You’re always doing this, “he mumbled, his tone becoming more bothered and serious. “I can never have a good time with you dude, you ruined my night, you always do! You always have something to complain about Selma damn at least I’m here right now!”
By now he was really angry and had his back turned. Don’t take it the wrong way I’m just trying to tell you how I feel, forget what I just said, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to ruin the night. I just honestly missed you and I wanted to spend time with you.” I grabbed his arm and put my head on his shoulder begging him to forgive me for what I had said. He pushed my hand and took my head off his shoulder and said “nah, I’m not trying to deal with your shit right now dude, it’s my birthday weekend and your ruining it.”as he started walking to his car. I followed him to the car letting him know I didn’t want to fight. As he opened the door to leave, I stand there and under my breath I tell him “don’t leave me please babe” Tears started falling down my face heavily, “I’m sorry!” I said again, but he just kept pushing me away. “That’s why we fight because you always have to act stupid and complain about something, you’re annoying.” I tried handing him the letter I wrote for him for his birthday, and he told me that it wasn’t the time, he didn’t want anything from me. He got into his car and threw the letter I had wrote him. I unresponsively watched “I love you, you’re the best happy birthday” fall to the ground. He drove off so fast, I didn’t even get the chance to try and stop him again.
Our arguments were always different but the emotional abuse always seemed to stay the same. I feel like nights like this happened all the time. It was always about putting me down, belittling me, and playing mind games. He made me believe that I was the one causing every problem we had in the relationship. In his eyes, no one was wrong but me and I started to believe it. Every time he would make me cry he told me I was weak. Most of the time, he would yell at me in private and no one knew about it. There was only so much I could do to hide my constant tears. It was a constant battle with him and every day it seemed like it just got tougher. The hardest thing to accept was that things weren’t always awful. He wasn’t always hurtful and damaging. In fact, they started off wonderful. In the beginning of our relationship he painted this pretty picture that he wanted me to see. He showed me the side of him that was so different. He was sweet and romantic and my family adored and cared for him. Months passed and as we became more comfortable with each other, he started to become hurtful with his words and controlling. It started with him getting upset over every little thing. He always had unrealistic expectations for me, which is why he would always be upset. His jealousy and controlling actions escalated more and more each day that went by. Oftentimes, I painted certain jealous and possessive behaviors as acts of love. It seemed like the red flags were obvious, but I was too blind to see the ugliness in him. I was so attached, and had so much love for him that I had seen a person in him that was capable of being an amazing partner. But I always seemed to fall for his potential and not his reality.
When my friends and family started to see how he actually was as a person, I began to distance myself from them. They’d tell me that he was no good, but I didn’t have the strength to let go, and that made me angry not only with myself, but with them as well. Instead of telling my family the reality of who I was with, I hid the relationship from them, including my friends. My self-worth was at an all-time low, that at that point in my life, I’d rather continue to deal and let the emotional abuse affect me than to be alone. I felt ashamed, every day I woke up feeling like I had let everyone down, including myself. My mother and father raised me to be an independent woman; a woman that would never expect anything less than what I deserved. More so, because I’ve always had a healthy family, that has shown me every day the true meaning of love and self-care. Yet I still couldn’t leave. Whenever I tried to leave him, he always slithered his way back in. One moment he would throw his tantrums and say hurtful things to me and days later he would be begging for my forgiveness because he “made a mistake” and because “he has flaws”. He would take me out, and do the very most to reel me back in. The two times I chose to forgive him and took him back, he swore he would change, and I believed him. A part of me felt that he would wake up one day and would want to strive to be better, or at least be the person he used to be. The person I saw in the beginning of the relationship, the person I was holding onto all along. Sadly, every time he promised to change, he’d be nice and gentle for a week maybe a month if I was lucky, but then he was back to his same hurtful self. He would continuously say “we both have our set of flaws and things we need to work on” to justify his ugliness, when deep down he knew it was him.
At the end of the day, I always tried to convince someone that I was deeply in love with why they should love me and why I was worthy. Only to realize, I never had to prove I was a good woman. The manipulation only made me realize that what I was really fighting for was my place, and trying to prove my value. I used to think that if I continued to be a good person he would eventually return the favor and be decent, that if I continued to be patient with him and understanding he’d realize his mistakes and that he was hurting me. But being a good person to someone who didn’t value and understand my worth only opened doors for him to disrespect me and to take advantage. I came to the conclusion that being a good woman will never keep a man. The only thing that will keep a man is a man that wants to be kept. There is no amount of convincing, of chasing or proving my value to someone that never even valued themselves. The only person I owe anything to is myself.
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