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Why I’m Thankful For The Worst Relationship Of My Life

And it had all started off so well.

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illustration of woman holding ex-lover, worst relationship
Anna Parini
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When I met my ex-boyfriend, I was in a good place. My divorce had been finalized for a few years, my kids seemed to have their feet firmly on the ground, and my life was full. My career, friendships and single parenting of three teens were going well.

I was confident. I’d healed. I was in the best shape of my life. However, I felt like something was missing. I craved having a relationship in my life again.

Then, I met Blaine. We matched on Tinder, and after talking for a few days, he asked me out for a drink. A drink led to dinner, dinner led to making out, and making out led to a good night text and a second date.

After our third date — a housewarming party for one of his friends who lived an hour and a half away from me — I knew something was wrong. We had a good night. His friends were nice. They welcomed me and spoke highly of him. But I couldn't help but notice that my new crush drank a lot and encouraged me to drink. “Someone has to get us home safely,” I said, annoyed that he didn’t seem to care that I drove 45 minutes to see him and was driving us home in a town I wasn’t familiar with.

I felt unsafe like he was careless. I pushed those feelings down, though, and drove us home.

The next day, I told myself I’d overreacted and didn’t need to get so upset. So, he drank a lot at his friend’s party. What was the big deal? He was a grown man who could have fun, and since I’m not a drinker anyway, was being the designated driver that big of a deal?

Months went by, and as we spent more time together, we fell in love. I ignored the feelings that sprouted in my chest, the feelings that were screaming: “He isn’t right for you.”

Like the time he drove home completely drunk after going out with friends. Or the time he told me he’d call me on Sunday night, and I never heard from him until his boss called me the next morning wondering where he was because he hadn’t shown up for work. Then, he got an OUI after promising me he’d never drink and drive again, swore off alcohol and admitted he had a problem. So, I stayed with him.

I drove him around for over six months because he couldn’t drive. I believed him when he said he’d go to therapy (he never did). He promised to change his lifestyle and not hang out with people who drank so much (that never happened).

Drinking wasn’t the only issue. There was something else about Blaine that made me feel anxious. I told myself it was because my ex-husband had cheated, and I was probably dealing with some of that leftover pain. But Blaine was always distracted. He’d forget things and was on his phone all the time.

He finally confessed he had an online gambling problem. He’d been covering it up for our three-year relationship. Again, he told me he’d get help, and he didn’t.

He lied. He started gaslighting me and telling me I was too sensitive and emotional and controlling when I asked him why he wasn’t getting the help he said he would or when I’d see old habits pop up. He started drinking again and tried hiding that from me, too.

It took me three years to do what I should have done on our third date. I knew something was off even then. We broke up.

Our relationship wasn’t all bad. We had great chemistry; we had a lot of fun together and he loved my kids and treated them as if they were his own.

But, behind closed doors, after a few years, I got to know a different side of him. The lying and manipulation didn’t stop, and he started insulting me.

I was so mad at myself for putting up with him for as long as I did. I knew better. I wanted better. I deserved better. It was the worst relationship of my life by far. And now, over a year after ending things with Blaine, I am thankful for how things turned out.

When I met him four years ago, I thought I was ready. Turns out I still had more work to do, and I did that work while I was with him. Blaine gave me a big taste of what I never want in my life again. He taught me I need to trust my gut feeling right away, no matter how ridiculous or dramatic. He showed me that another person can never give me what I can give myself and that there is something so special and sacred about staying single until you find the one person who enhances your life, who you don’t want to change.

I’d like to think I’d be in this place without this experience, but if I’m being honest, I don’t think I would be.

Do you think your past relationships have made you stronger? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Relationships