The song “Love Hurts” was first introduced in the early 1960s by The Everly Brothers and has since been recorded by a new artist in nearly every decade following its release. According to this song, love hurts, ooooh love hurts. And yes, infidelity hurts us, the sting of lying hurts us, and the heartbreak of breakups hurt us, but LOVE DOES NOT HURT. And, this is why.
My first longterm relationship as an adult consisted of me falling in love and dreaming of my future. Thoughts of kids playing outside in the sunshine, while I prepared them sandwiches and lemonade. My Facebook posts seems to prove that I had achieved happiness; my journal entries were far more dark.
“His world became my world. His words became my voice”Ashley Elise
I had lived in a relationship for nearly four years that involved me being ruthlessly controlled. Every aspect of my life was dictated by someone else through the use of manipulation and fear. I went from having close bonds with friends, to seeing these same friends very little. Instead, his friends became my friends. His world became my world. His words became my voice. And depsite my “strong woman” image, I had no idea that this behavior was not normal. I believed he loved me. I believe he loved me so passionately that he could not control his temper or his actions. Love hurts, right?
Typing these words and sharing them with the world is creating a knot deep in my belly that feels as if it might punch right through my thickened skin. But here it goes. I had entered into my post-college career and worked hard to earn a promotion. Celebration was short-lived as I was made very aware that my boyfriend did not like that I worked with other men. He did not trust them. This insecurity of his developed into a sick form of control in which I was told I was no longer allowed to wear thongs to work. Now if you’re like me you wear thongs not for any sort of sex appeal, but becuase you hate the thought of people seeing your underwear lines. Silly, but true. He convinced me that wearing thongs around anyone but him was inappropriate, and I obliged.
His control worsened, and soon I was making up excuses at work for why I had to drive separately to meetings instead of carpooling with fellow employees. He did not want me in vehicles with other men. Apparently his sick and twisted mind thought a work meeting commute would lead to a highway orgy (insert eye-rolling here). I continued to find ways to fulfill all of his requests, yet his manipulation and control continued to tightened its grip around my life.
One day I came home from work and found him searching through my underwear. Yes, you read that correctly. He was going through my dirty laundry and searching my underwear for signs that I had had sexual intercourse with another man. If he had available a blacklight, I can guarantee he would have used it. I confronted him and explained my anger for his undeserved distrust of me. Somehow, he won. He made me feel like he loved me so much that he could not stand the thought of losing me and needed me to prove that I was faithful. I was defeated. My entire life I have been 100% faithful to my significant other, yet I was made to feel like a cheating whore, because of his insecurities. All in the name of love, right?
I was fighting each day to prove myself to him and yet, it was him that was being unfaithful. He was sleeping with other women, while I was home alone trying to think of ways to make him trust me, make me really love me. Just the thought of this former version of myself makes me want to cry, scream, and vomit all at the same time. We would get into fights, and I would lock myself in the bathroom while he all but broke down the door. I wanted to get away. I wanted to be free. But he loved me, right? Love is a battlefield, right?
Fast forward past many episodes of cruelty, screaming matches, and troubling outcomes, and we moved together to a new city to find a fresh start. In this city was my best friend and eventually, my escape. After work one night I went downtown to meet my boyfriend and his co-workers for a drink. As I walked in his expression changed, and I immediately knew that he did not want me there. Why? Because he was flirting with his female colleague. It was obvious. Right in front of me. And then he offered to drive her home since she had had too much to drink. Angry and embarrassed, I went home. Hours later I saw his intoxicated figure walked through the door, and the final hours of my life with him began.
“He told me I was disgusting. I was ugly. I was a fat bitch that no one liked. No one would ever love me.”Ashley Elise
I was having a snack when he walked into the kitchen and began berrating me. He told me I was disgusting. I was ugly. I was a fat bitch that no one liked. No one would ever love me. I sat there at the table and wrote each of these words down. I wrote them down because I knew I would need a reminder for why I should never go back to him. For why I needed to get far away from this life with him. I was not responding to him, which only fueled his drunken fire. He stormed over to me, picked up the empty plate on the table next to me and smashed it on the floor. This was it. I had to get away from him. I grapped nothing but my purse and phone and ran to my car. I sped out of the driveway and drove straight to my best friend’s house. I told her what had happened and the next day our brothers and cousins drove down, took my keys and phone away to remove temptation to see or call him, and a new chapter of my life began.
Many years later I am still so grateful for my best friend. She was my strength when I felt broken. She was my voice when I could only whimper. She made me laugh and showed me that life was going to get better. And it did. So much better. I learned a lot about myself during my twenties, but only of the truest lessons that I learned was that love DOES NOT hurt. Love is beautiful. Love is kind. Love is honest and forgiving. Love does not control or manipulate. Love does not use fear. Love is love, and love does not hurt.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit https://www.thehotline.org
You are not alone.