“I thought he liked me, but he liked getting high instead”
I met him in college. He took a different major than me, but we ended up taking a class together. He was somewhat different. For a design student, it is normal for you to look rugged or a bit scruffy, but he always looked decent. Decently high. He was always on some kind of drugs, I bet. He never looked sober. He was more interested in his sketches and papers rather than the class itself. Almost like a kid in art class. With his head tilted to the side just a little bit. An innocent look on his face, wondering what color to use next. He had my attention and I was eager to know him better. Or maybe, I just had a hidden agenda. I wanted to fix him.
So I did try, I went on and got to know him. I lowkey made it a personal mission to sober him up and get him clean. Just like what I did to every other boy that I was interested in, I made the first move. I figured out his phone number and started to text him. Things went well after a few dates, up until our first night together. We crashed the night at his junior’s empty apartment. Later the next day was the biggest warning sign that I neglected. In the morning, for some irrelevant and ridiculous reason, he lashed out, screamed and yelled, told me names, and threw stuff at me. Baffled and confused, I started to cry. HARD. It didn’t make any sense. He kept telling me that it was my fault. What was??? Nothing bad actually happened. He then told me to pack my bag and leave the apartment, and leave him too. At that moment, I thought some senses came to me. I knew I had to leave. What if he killed me? I thought. I took my bag, shoved my things inside and headed out the door. As I was walking out, he grabbed my backpack and pulled me to the floor. My head could have banged the floor, but luckily my backpack saved my fall. He then continued to yell only a few inches away from my face. He walked back to the couch and put his head in his arms. He was crying. He sobbed and kept on saying that he didn’t deserve me and that I was better off without him. He sent me away, again. I stood near the front door, ready to run for my life. He tilted his head up and asked me to leave. Not screaming, but this time, with a life threatening message.
“Don’t think that you will live in peace after you walk out that door”
I hurried out of the apartment and went home straight away. I couldn’t sleep for 2 days, and was scared to go back to campus. Those words kept on repeating in my head. I feared for my life, because I didn’t know what he was capable of doing. Eventually, I went to class without ever contacting him for a few days. I got to the hallway and there he was, smiling at me like a kid, excited to see his favorite pet. He came at me and asked:
“What should we eat for lunch today?” With a huge grin on his face. My heart dropped to my stomach. What the hell is this? I thought.
I talked to him later that day, and he didn’t remember a thing about that night. He said:
“Oh man I took like 5 pills that day before you came, my bad. Next time that happens, just throw some jokes at me or something ha ha ha.”
That was the first time in my life that I genuinely wanted to kill someone.
My life after that was a literal emotional roller coaster with him. Everyday would be different than the day before. One day, he would leave sweet messages on a sketch that he made, ran up to me, and shyly gave it to me, then ran back to wherever he came from. The next day, he was bashing my phone and told me what a whore I was for texting a guy. This would go on for months, to a point where I was losing sleep. Every argument ended with me, thinking I was insane. He would manipulate every situation and successfully made it look like it was my fault. I felt like a failure everyday, I even wished to get into some kind of an accident, get amnesia or something, and just forget everything. Or better, I wished I was dead.
I was never a coward, I was never that stupid. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. I know what you’re thinking “why don’t you just leave him then??”. Trust me, I would think the same way if I was from the outside looking in. But, when you’re in a position where you were so badly manipulated into thinking that you couldn’t go on without him, that he was the only one who would put up with your shit, you will slowly start to believe him. Somehow, you will slowly defend him in front of others. You ended up losing yourself along the way.
One night, I couldn’t take it anymore. I noticed that each time he blew up, things would get worse if I started crying my eyes out. So that night, I decided to hold everything in. I planned on putting my best poker face. He was yelling and telling me how I would sleep around like a whore. He pushed me to the wall. He was that close on bashing my head to a glass-framed art. I still kept a straight face. I clenched my jaw so tight, so I would distract myself from the stinging pain on my head. I thought this would work, this would make him stop. It didn’t.
He threw me to the floor, sat on my stomach, and strangled my arms. I didn’t move, I didn’t fight back like I used to do. I just lay there, fighting the tears so they won’t fall. He got up, sat on the couch. I got up too, and sat on the opposite corner. I started to get an adrenaline rush. Somehow, right there and then, I had the courage to stand up for myself. Whatever he was rambling on, I ignored it. I mimicked the way he sat and the face that he made. I don’t know why I did that, really. Maybe I was on the verge of blowing up too. He noticed what I was doing and said:
“No one has ever smacked you in the face, huh?”
“Nope, not even my stepdad. You wanna be the first one to do it?”
He slapped my left cheek. Hard. I could feel my tears coming up. So this is how it feels like, getting slapped, I thought. I took a deep breath, turn my head the other way and said:
“Here’s another one”
That was it. I punched him in the face. He grabbed me, and pulled me down to the floor. I tried kicking him and scratching his arms so he would let go. He punched my shoulder. The pain kicked in straight away. I realized I made a mistake. He was clearly stronger than me, there’s no way I could win this fight. I struggled so much to get out and managed to run to the bathroom and locked before he could get to the door. He banged on the door hard and started screaming:
“GET THE FUCK OUT YOU CUNT, GET OVER HERE!!”
A minute later, his dad, late for his flight, screamed at him:
“WHAT DID YOU DO?? WHAT DID YOU DOOO TO HER???”
“NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!”
I peeped from the keyhole and saw how mad his dad was, but his ride was already here, and he was that close on missing an important flight. He left in a hurry without saying anything else. Please don’t go, I said under my breath. I was so devastated, I really wished his parents would find out what a terrible person their son turned out to be.
I saw my face in the bathroom mirror. What a wreck. I cried and cried till I was gasping for air. My whole body ached. The bathroom didn’t have any big windows that I could climbed out too. I couldn’t go anywhere, so I sat on the toilet and planned my way out. So here’s the plan: I would run out of the bathroom, take his dog from his leash and let him run around the house. When he was busy calming his dog, I would grab my bag, take my shoes, and just run in whatever direction till I get a taxi or anything. Sounded like a good plan. I calmed myself, peeped out of the keyhole and slowly opened the door. I looked left and right and scanned the living room. No one was there. I tiptoed my way to the door, and suddenly a voice breaks the silence
“Are you thirsty honey? Let me make you some hot tea, okay?”
In a sweet childish voice, there he was, standing at the doorway, with a concerned look on his face. I was standing still and didn’t move a muscle.
“Come on, hot tea will do you good. Come here,” he disappeared into the dining room. He said it with a high tone, almost the same when he talked to his dog. But the difference is, I bet he never hit his dog.
Trembling and scared that he would suddenly lash out again, I followed him slowly to the dining room. I sat down and he gave me a cup of hot tea. I took it with shaky hands. He tried to hug me but I clinched. My body got stiff and he noticed that. He backed away, took some money from his wallet and told me to get a cab home. I called my usual ojek (motorcycle driver), asked him to pick me up. I went home sobbing the whole ride from West to South Jakarta.
After that night, he never laid a finger on me, never screamed at my face, he let me do what I wanted all the time. He showed only his innocent side for the rest of the year that I was with him. He was so nice, like a completely different person. Was it guilt? Was it his way to mend things? I had no idea. But even when we had a serious talk and when I ended things with him, he never apologized for any of his wrongdoings. It was as if he thought nothing’s wrong, he didn’t think he was crazy, and he never thought I got hurt multiple times because of him. He never saw that. He only said:
“I can’t take back what I did. It’s done”
“But you can simply apologize”
He was tearing up but nothing came out of his mouth.
I left him that night, leaving behind my insanity and insecurities he manifested in me. Funny, I hold no grudge whatsoever. I just wished he would get the help that he needed.
Stay sane, B.
Illustration by @sabinaka