I Was A Teenage Doormat

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

After my post a few weeks ago about going back to school and getting a little more personal about why I never finished, I had a few people interested in knowing a little more about my then-best friend and how he contributed to my eventual academic demise.

So here's a little story about the most toxic relationship I've ever had.


I'm going to go ahead and use his real first name. Anyone who knows both of us knows what went down, so I don't think his privacy is going to be an issue. Plus his name is Matt, and really, what guy born in the 80's wasn't named Matt?

Anyway, Matt and I met through a mutual friend that I went to the Academy with. He went to the school she had left behind, and they had been very close. She kind of liked him, and she thought he kind of liked her, so one day she asked me to IM him and try to feel things out (believe it or not, it wasn't the first time it had happened -- my roommate and her fiance got together because she had me do the same thing). He and I got to chatting occasionally over the next couple of years, but I never really thought much of it.

When I started at IU (less than two weeks after I graduated high school), he and I reconnected, and I found out he was going to be attending IU as well. We had never met one another in person before, so we set up lunch together the first week of fall semester. I was a little nervous, of course (I always am when meeting someone for the first time), but it quickly felt like we had been good friends for years. His dorm was next to mine, and mine had all the dining options his didn't, so we ate together often. We started hanging out constantly, and our friendship quickly developed.

Unfortunately, so did an unrequited crush.

Now anybody who knows me really well (like, I trust you enough to tell you my secrets well) knows that when I fall for a guy, I fall hard and I fall fast (for example, I knew I wanted to marry Tom the day after we started talking). It was no exception with Matt. What was the exception, however, was that I told him how I felt. A couple of months into the semester, I realized that it was getting harder to be around him feeling the way I felt. I ended up writing him a long letter explaining that I had very strong feelings for him and it was too hard to hang out when I felt that way, and that it would probably be easier if we just didn't talk anymore; I sent it to him in a Facebook message.

In hindsight, it may not have been the best or most mature way to go about things, but it was all I could think of at the time. And even though I told him we shouldn't talk, I secretly hoped that our friendship would mean enough to him that he'd try to fight for me (yes, I realize how cliche female that is, but again, I was eighteen). But he didn't. I didn't hear a peep from him.

Strike one.

That right there really should have tipped me off. If our friendship was that disposable to him, what ended up happening later shouldn't have come as a surprise. But it did.

A few days after I sent the letter, I ended up breaking down and telling him that I didn't care about how I felt (I'm pretty sure I'd had a little liquid courage), because I missed his friendship too much. We picked up where we left off, and my romantic feelings started to dissipate. Our friendship was back to normal, we were together constantly, and we even met up a few times over the summer (and called each other every day). Everything was fine until early October of our sophomore year.

On a Saturday night, I was in my dorm room (painting, I think -- I was taking an introductory art class) when I got a call from Matt. He had been at a party and had too much to drink; he'd vomited in the front yard and was so embarrassed that he had just started walking away. The problem was that he didn't know where he was. He asked me, sobbing, if he could come over. I, of course, said yes. I would have gone to pick him up, but I didn't have a car, so by the time he got oriented and walked to my dorm, it was almost two hours later.

We just sat and talked for a long while. Eventually, I was exhausted, and he wasn't really in any shape to be walking back to his dorm alone, so I told him he could stay over. Because I had a single room, I had both beds at my disposal. At that time, I had both of them pushed together to make a big bed. He offered to sleep on the floor, but I told him it was okay to sleep with me in the bed; I didn't have any feelings for him anymore at that point, so I wasn't worried. Besides, he had been dating a girl he had known in high school for a few weeks at that point. We went to bed, each with our own mattress, but then he started cuddling me. This was the first time I'd slept in the same bed as a boy, or even cuddled with one, so it was weird, but nice. Even though I didn't have romantic feelings for him anymore, it was very comforting.

We woke up holding hands. He got freaked out and hurried out the door, claiming the upcoming Colts game as his excuse. Things were a little tense that week, but still okay. Things stayed that way for the next few weeks until he left school without telling me goodbye. When he finally picked up my call two days later, he told me that telling me goodbye would have been too hard for him, and he wouldn't have been able to go through it. I tried to accept that. I continued to call him every day, like we did on vacations, but he never picked up.

Strike two.

It was February when he finally picked up another call, after I had called daily for four months. And yes, I know that seems a bit desperate, but he was my closest friend, and I didn't know what was going on, and I was obviously having a rough time, having just been kicked out of school. He told me he had been avoiding my calls because he "felt closer to me than [his] girlfriend", and it scared him. After that, we would talk, but not as often, and he always seemed really distracted.

A few months later (June, to be exact), I had had enough. I called him, crying, asking him why he had been so distant. He told me he figured we were just growing apart. I called him out on what I could tell the problem really was: he didn't need me anymore, because everything I had done for him, his girlfriend now did (and more). He didn't deny it.

Strike three.

I told him I was done letting him walk all over me. I was done letting him be friends with me only when it was convenient for him. I was done dealing with all the crap he would put me through. If he ever got his head out of his butt and realized that he wanted to talk to me, he could, but I wasn't going to be contacting him anymore.

And that was the end.

I deleted his phone number that night so I wouldn't be tempted to call him (because I totally would -- that's just how I am). It's been five years since then, and I haven't heard from him once. We're still Facebook friends, but I don't comment on his posts, and he doesn't comment on mine.

Admittedly, I miss him sometimes. There are only a handful of people I have ever been closer to in my life than I was with Matt. I realize now, though, that our relationship wasn't healthy. It was toxic. He never physically hurt me, or said deliberately unkind things to me, but he USED me. And I let him. He's also one of the only people I've ever confronted like that. Admittedly, I tend to be a very non-confrontational person. I don't like to stir the pot, and I don't want to make myself a target, so all too often, I keep quiet. I don't like that about myself, but I'm trying to change that. Because what happened with me and Matt? It's not okay. Nobody should have to put up with that. I'm not here for anyone's convenience. I'm a really awesome friend when given the chance, and I deserve to be treated with respect.

If anything I've said sounds like something you're experiencing in your own life, whether with a significant other, family member, friend, or acquaintance, I strongly urge you to reevaluate that relationship. I deserved better, and you do too <3

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4 comments

  1. Man Alex, I miss you. Also, you're a great writer (but I'm sure you know that) :)

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    1. Thanks Baneenee :) I miss you too! We'll need to get together before you run off to become Mary Poppins :(

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  2. First, I just wanna hug you. And then say amen. You're so beautiful strong for finally letting go - putting yourself first. How embarrassing is it I've been just like you my entire life... even into adulthood. It wasn't until this past winter that I finally let go of a toxic relationship I'd been desperately fighting for, for FOUR years. I can't even say I'm not still a doormat. I mean there's no one in my life currently using me or hurting me but I know I'm predispositioned for it to happen again.

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    Replies
    1. I know the feeling, because I've always been that way. I was a doormat at home, and I ended up being a doormat socially. Thankfully, I'm not a doormat for my husband, but I could easily have ended up in a relationship where I was. Kudos to you for letting go of your toxic relationship! I hope you're able to break the cycle <3

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