The longest relationship I had in my 29 years of life was with a complicated man. I met Chad when I was 18 years old and he was 22. He was older and I was a senior in high school and I felt sort of cool dating the older mysterious guy. He had a lot of mental health issues and I found myself making a lot of excuses for his behavior early on in the relationship.

He was a paranoid schizophrenic with severe anxiety and depression issues. On top of that, he was an alcoholic. Things were good when he complied with therapist advice and regularly took his meds. But he was ill, and would often impulsively stop taking his pills and convince himself that they were making things worse. It was difficult for me to watch someone I love struggle with mental health issues. The depression was bad and the side effects from the meds made it worse.

I felt bad for him. I couldn’t imagine living day to day questioning my desire to live. I didn’t suffer from depression, I didn’t really understand his pain. When he started drinking heavily, I used all of these things as an excuse for him to self-medicate with weed and alcohol. Things quickly turned bad. Chad would get drunk and convince himself that I was cheating on him. The first time he hit me I didn’t even have the courage to call the cops. His brother had been visiting and saw my black eye after chad punched me in my face early one morning, and by the time I raced home in shock his family had already called the cops on him. I didn’t press charges. I still felt bad for him. I had a swollen shut eye, and I felt bad for him.

I took him back when he was released from jail. I told myself things would be different. I told myself that he felt bad, that it wasn’t his fault, it was the alcohol and the mental illness. What kind of person would I be if I turned my back on him now when he needed me the most? And besides, this time would be different. He was on new meds and had been sober 6months. We could get through this.

And we did fine for about 9months. The meds made him quiet and shy so he didn’t want to be around people. And that meant I couldn’t be around people. What kind of girlfriend leaves the person they love alone at home when he’s struggling so she can go and have fun with her friends? So I spent that year working and providing for us both, and isolating with him when I didn’t have to work.

Chad relapsed at some point and to be honest I had no idea when exactly it happened. I became suspicious when I would come home and he had just brushed his teeth before I came in. By the time I found the bottle stash behind the TV stand, it was too late.
The cycle started again. Chad stopped taking his medication and the drinking started up all over again. I told myself it was a phase and I could help him get through it. During his spiral downward, a tragedy occurred in my family. My sister was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and I was to have custody of her 2 year old son while she served her sentence. I struggled hard with this. The two people killed unintentionally when my sister got behind the wheel while intoxicated on the night of her 20th birthday, were my friends. I was grieving the loss of my friends and holding my sister while she cried herself to sleep every night.

Chad stayed home. Chad drank.
I came home one night, a few days before my sister would be sentenced to jail, exhausted and emotional. When I walked in the door I could smell the beer on chads breath. He welcomed me with insults for being away from him so long and when I started yelling at him he began to rip all of my family pictures off the wall and break them in the floor. I tried to leave and he ran between me and the door and told me I wasn’t going anywhere. The banter and yelling continued and I finally said “I’m too tired for this. If you won’t let me leave, let me go to sleep.” I laid on the couch in defeat.

Chad then grabbed me by my hair and dragged me to the living room floor. I was fighting and hitting at him but he was bigger than me and strong. I felt useless. He then dragged me by my hair across the whole apartment. Through the living room and to kitchen and finally to the bathroom at the back of the house. It was as if he had some super human strength. I bit, hit, and kicked the whole way. Once in the bathroom he grabbed me by my head and shoved me towards the toilet. He tried shoving my head inside and as I fought him my head hit the toilet set and bowl. I was sure he would break my nose with the force he was using.

Finally, out of nowhere. He let go. I laid on the floor crying and holding my face that was probably already swelling and beginning to bruise from being smashed against the porcelain. I watched as chad left the bathroom. He went and sat on the living room couch as if nothing had happened. And once again he was between me and the door. I had taken abuse of all forms from chad multiple times. I recognized the look on his face from all the previous times. He was black out drunk, he wouldn’t even remember this in the morning.

But there was something different this time. I had a moment of realization after 5 years of being in this relationship that this man was going to kill me. I was terrified and I knew he wouldn’t let me leave, so I just had to get through the night until he sobered up enough and until that blank look on his face went away. I got up and walked back to the living room. On my way there I grabbed a knife from the kitchen and hid it up my sleeve in case I needed it. I walked past chad, into the bedroom and got in bed. Chad came and laid next to me like nothing was wrong. And I faced the wall and I cried.

This was the worst time of my life. My baby sister was facing prison time and she needed me to be there for her. I was grieving the loss of my friends and I was overwhelmed and a wreck. I didn’t have any support or love at home and now was sleeping with a knife in my sleeve. And I could have used it to force him to let me out. But I was so afraid that I just laid there. I never would have been able to hurt him if it came down to it.

I couldn’t leave him after all the physical and sexual abuse I had endured, what made me think I’d be able to stab him if I had to? I was tired. I gave up and just laid there numb. Finally I could hear his breathing slow and could hear his drunk snore. As quietly as I could I crawled out of the room and got my keys and I left. This time I left for good and it was the hardest thing to do. Later that year chad would be hospitalized for suicide attempts and it would kill me inside. I’d blame myself for the worsening of his mental state and convince myself that if I had just given him the chance, he would’ve have changed. If it wasn’t for having custody of my nephew after my sister was sentenced things may have been different.

I glamorized our relationship to myself and convince myself that things could go back to the way they were before the drinking. But I knew I couldn’t put my nephews in harm’s way so I stayed away from Chad. Finally it got easier and I realized I couldn’t go back. Then time went on and I was able to find love again, real love. I’m married now to the most amazing but after all this time chad still makes me afraid. I have never told my husband about that specific night. I told him about other instances and the abuse I suffered but I couldn’t bring myself to tell the story I’m typing now.

To this day I have never told anyone. I loved a man who, during the worst moments in my life showed me love and support by bashing my face off of a porcelain toilet. I have tried to say it out loud and get it off my chest but the shame and anxiety of the memory stop me it from leaving my tongue. I’ve never written in a journal or diary because it’s too painful. And even now...I’m hesitating to submit this. But I have to do it.