When I look back at my bad old days, there’re a number of things that stand out as emblematic of who I was – the fear of letting go of a bad relationship because I didn’t think I could do any better, being unable to relax and enjoy my time with one woman because I couldn’t stop looking for the shoe to drop… all fairly bad. But there is one very specific night that, to my mind, was one of the most representative of how bad things were.
I had gotten permission from my girlfriend at the time (warning sign #1) to go play in a Mage campaign with my friends. This was significant because my ex hated RPGs – she thought they were the stupidest things ever and couldn’t imagine anyone she dated wanting to play them. She also didn’t care for them because it meant I was spending time with my friends and not with her (warning sign #2) – but this time she relented and allowed me to go spend a couple hours gaming1.
I had been there for less than an hour before she showed up to quite literally drag me away (warning sign #3). I forget what the excuse was, but it was some “togetherness” emergency – I had to go shopping with her for some trivial thing or other.
And I let her pull me away from my friends.
In fact, that phrase – “I let her” – defined the majority of our relationship. After the honeymoon period, where I was just astounded that I was having sex, our relationship became a matter of constant fighting, jealousy, guilt trips and having to justify myself on an almost daily basis. Almost every fight we ever had would escalate from disagreeing over what to rent at Blockbuster to threats of breaking up with me… and so I would give in.
I allowed her walk all over me because I was willing to put up with this. I had few boundaries to speak of and even less self-esteem… and I was willing to consider this treatment a fair price for being in a relationship.
- If you’ve ever played a White Wolf campaign you are shaking your head in disbelief; this is barely sufficient to get through the prologue of an adventure, never mind a major gaming session [↩]