I Didn't Need Saving After My Abusive Relationship, I Needed Understanding

by Anastasia Iliou

Guys seem to have this thing about "fixing" or "saving" girls. I guess it makes them feel protective and masculine.

Don't get me wrong: I'd love to be cared about, but I don't want to be seen as weak or in need of fixing.

I tend to overshare, which gets me into trouble sometimes. I'd rather know if a guy is going to run away from my flaws sooner rather than later.

My past doesn't define me, but it does reflect on my present self. I am who I am because of my past. I can grow and change, and I've moved past everything. That doesn't mean my past disappeared, though. I've learned from it, and I use it to push myself forward and to avoid repeating past mistakes.

My past doesn't define me, but it does reflect on my present self.

I was a loner for a while. I let my past define me and dictate my future. It was a constant effort to remind myself to be happy, dammit, and to push certain intrusive thoughts from my mind.

It took four years for me to even look a man in the eyes. Four years passed before I could ride in an elevator alone with a man without having a panic attack.

When I finally started dating again, I believed every man I came across needed to change my perception of men and dating. I needed to find the exact opposite of what I had before; I needed my new guy to be perfect.

Obviously, that was never an option.

I figured out pretty quickly that I wasn't going to find a perfect human, but I could absolutely find someone who would listen, understand and not pull my triggers.

My past didn't need to be a constant topic of conversation, assuming my new guy wasn't scared off by it. If he was, then he wasn't someone I needed to be spending time with in the first place. All I needed was understanding.

Understanding that, like everyone, I have triggers, so please don't pull them.

Understanding that, like everyone, I have fears, so please don't torment me.

Understanding that, like everyone, I have boundaries, so please don't push them.

Learning to trust again was my biggest challenge. I had to remind myself that not every man is out to get to me.

I also had to remind myself that, while I probably would get hurt again, my fear of getting hurt couldn't be the reason I backed away from relationships. I will get hurt, but this time I'll get back up.

This time, I'll know when to leave.

This time, I know my boundaries.

I'll still get hurt, but I'll enjoy my time with another person who listens and understands.

I will get hurt, but this time I'll get back up.

That's all I need. Someone to make me feel safe, loved and like more than an object. I need to fall in love: the reciprocated, crazy kind of love.

I need love where one can't possibly imagine hurting the other. Where one misses the other deeply when they've spent just a day or two apart. Where one will do anything to keep the other safe. Where one may not relate to the other, but makes an effort to understand and nurture.

I don't expect to fall in love tomorrow, but I hope and pray for understanding from everyone I meet and share my story with. I don't need advice, ideas or game plans. I need a calm listener.

I need to be understood.