Back in 2001, I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy named Ben. His father, my sorta-boyfriend, wasn't always a particularly nice man. He'd gotten into some bad habits while I was pregnant - he'd frequently disappear, only to yell at me if I dared ask where he'd been, claiming I was "trying to ruin his life."
Once my son was born, I realized that I couldn't allow him to grow up watching his mother be treated in such a manner. So I broke it off with his dad before he ever knew us together.
Ben is now 11 going on 45, and has never known life with his father and me together. But don't be fooled: breaking up with him was one of the hardest things I'd ever done.
You read those stories of empowerment, of women who've been able to raise their children, walk away from emotional abuse, and go on to lead healthy and wonderful lives.
In reality, the loss of that relationship struck me harder than I think anyone ever understood. It wasn't the bond he and I shared - that had long been trampled on by infidelity (while I was pregnant) and mockery. I'd venture to guess that he had more respect for rocks than he did for me, but sometimes, the comfort of our memories together - even the bad ones - was hard to let go of.
There were nights I'd spend roaming the countryside in my car, sad songs on the radio, while I searched my soul AND managed to put the baby to sleep. I missed him so much sometimes I could hardly speak about it.
The worst feeling was knowing that I was missing something that wasn't good for either of us. I knew the relationship was dysfunctional and could never be fixed, but I still missed it. I missed the comfort and familiarity I'd had with him, even if he wasn't always so kind to me.
And it made me angry. I knew I shouldn't care, that I shouldn't ever miss him, that I should say, "THANKFULLY, I DODGED THAT BULLET," but the words took years to come out of my mouth. When they did, I meant them. It was then that I was finally able to take the power back.
It's been well over 10 years now, and I'm proud to say that I no longer feel any angst when it comes to that relationship. We've both moved on and become semi-friends. I wish him no ill will, and I imagine he feels the same about me.
The memories have faded, the pain is gone, but I'll never forget the wanting. Wanting someone who was, in all senses of the word, bad for me and the turmoils inside me.
And that is why I never question why women stay in bad relationships.
Have you had a bad relationship you couldn't quit?
Image via robertvitulano/Flickr