When I was 19 years old, I wound up in an abusive relationship. Kurt was 32 years old. He’d lived in multiple states. This really impressed me at the time. It was only later that I’d find out that he moved around because of legal trouble. And that he’d wound up living in Maine (where I grew up and where I met him) because Kurt had sought out his brother who had built a comfortable life for himself, expecting he could flex their family connection. That his brother would take him in.
When that failed, Kurt found other ways to make ends meet. One of them was legal. The others weren’t. The legal one, working as a breakfast cook, was the one that didn’t really make him much money — but was a good front for the other things he had going on.
I didn’t even really want to date Kurt in the first place. We spontaneously made out on a friend’s couch one night, and she asked if I’d drive him home.
Bit by bit, he pushed my boundaries. There was just something about him that made everything between us inevitable — even though I didn’t want to date him. He made it very hard to say no to him.
I’m sure I could now. But back then, I was so young. So unsure of myself. And I was recovering from an abusive childhood that left me an easy mark. Sort of maybe recovering.
Well, when I wasn’t doing drugs and finding ways to run away from the work.
I’ve written extensively about my relationship with Kurt. How it happened. How I left.
The truth is that the hardest part of leaving Kurt wasn’t actually leaving him. It was living without him. Because after that relationship ended, there was a big hole in my life. Life seemed very empty without him. And I recently stumbled onto a word to explain something that happened during our relationship that made living without him after we broke up so hard.
It’s called perspecticide.
What’s perspecticide? It’s a form of emotional abuse in which the victim loses their grip on reality and their sense of self. In my own case, it came about because Kurt was so incredibly controlling that I found myself unable to make decisions on my own.
And after Kurt gaslit me so many times — something very routine for him to do — and told me repeatedly that I did not think the way I insisted I thought, felt the way that I felt, and was told that things hadn’t happened that I knew in fact had… well, I found my sense of self and belief system slipping away from me, too.
I was in bad shape when I left. It took me years to recover from that abusive relationship. Even after I moved on and dated other people, even as I made new friends, the damage lingered for far longer than I would have guessed it would.
It wasn’t until a decade later, when I was going through therapy to process a divorce and was diagnosed with dependent personality disorder on a routine psychometric battery, that I really bore down deep into the void that Kurt had built within me. Or at least the one that was already there (due to childhood issues) that he had expanded to a size where I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
I Haven’t Missed Him for a Long Time
But it’s not all doom and gloom. These days my life is wonderful. I’m healthier and happier than I have ever been. And I have good people in my life.
There may have been a time years back when Kurt took something from me. And I could stay bitter about that. I could look back and wonder how much time was wasted working on healing those hurts.
But honestly, I don’t find myself doing that. Instead, I’m grateful for the life I’m living.
And I’m proud of the fact that I haven’t missed Kurt for a very long time.