After a relationship, I always look back to see what went wrong, what went right, and what I learned. Knowing what I liked and didnt like makes it easier to find something new.
Looking back I see warning signs about his issues. He used to never pry into my past. However I kind of liked that.
We had dated for about 2 months before I began to feel this overwhelming need to divulge my past. Not that I have made a ton of mistakes, I really have not made series of bad choices. Unfortunately, instead my history of abuse and forced decisions were going to pop up. Not that I felt the urge to divulge all of that crazy nonsense to him, but I knew he would start picking up on things as time past.
For instance, we had a number of great nights together and fell asleep cuddling. A few hours into sleep, I would wake up to myself sitting in bed screaming. He had luckily slept through it all, or so he said, but it was a matter of time before he might start noticing things, like how as I lay next to him my body was rigid because of the muscle tension and fear I had to consciously relax my body over a few minutes. Or that some nights I silently cried myself to sleep. He would never hear me since it was silent, but he might notice my makeup was ruined, or my pillow was wet, or that I would go for a number of seconds without breathing to control the sobbing.
Soon he was going to notice.
It took me a few weeks to talk myself into bringing it up to him in a conversation. The idea was to slowly bring it up with a few general topics, and then repeat the conversation with more details over the next few weeks. When I finally did bring it up, he quickly stopped me. He knew I had a past. So I ended with a warning that he may notice some weird things, but to ignore them or ask me about them if they bothered him.
This partly bothered me that he could put his head in the sand, but even more it comforted me. For the first time I got to pretend that I was who I was and not what my past had been. He gave me a new identity in a way. I got to be Margaret, not some abused person. He did not know that I had picked myself up from nothing. He only knew that I worked hard and made responsible decisions.
Suddenly I was a person of value, instead of thrown away leftovers.
But there were other times where he encouraged me to do better and I felt ashamed. Or when I was sleep deprived and killing myself to make ends meet by working two jobs (~50 hrs/week) and going to college full time the entire time. Instead of understanding why I was the way I was, or what my motivation came from, he tried to "fix" it or point out that I was lacking in some area. So I sat in silent shame and listened as he tried to encourage me to do better, when he did not understand the situation. It was never a choice to settle for what I had settled for. It was a stepping stone to what I really wanted.
Being with him was like having a new identity. He rarely noticed my issues. The second hand clothes that did not fit well he did not realize were second hand. I did not realize I was poor. I dont know why. He thought I was beautiful, even when I was at my heaviest. He encouraged me to be better, but still liked me right where I was at.
When I moved to be with him and marry him, I left almost all my old clothes (they were 3-4 sizes too big at this point) and spent a couple hundred dollars getting new clothes because I wanted him to be proud to introduce me. Then I spent money to get my haircut and nails done. Since he had not seen me for nine months (this was in July when he visited for his to weeks off that year), I wanted him to know I was taking care of myself just for him. I had done the same thing leading up to his return in November. For the most important man in my life, I wanted to fulfill and be everything I could be.
Basically he made me think of myself in new ways and never treated me like trash. That was a new experience for me and it changed my life. It instilled in me a new identity, finally giving me the experience that someone could care for me even at my worst. He made me love him, no matter how hard I tried to remain disconnected. He was always there to love me. The experience healed me. The relationship was amazing. I am forever grateful.