The Reality of "Not-Love"

 

What's not-love? It couldn’t be the fact that he does my laundry, and cooks homemade meals. It couldn’t be the fact that he says that he only wants me to lose weight so I’ll be healthy in the future. Or that he says that the reason he cooks me homemade meals is a way to show his love. That the reason that we fight constantly is because I am unable to see his side because I am selfish or narrow-minded. He says that we spend time together every day and that I already have all of his attention, so why do we need to go on dates? He says that he’s not an affectionate person, but does what he can to be affectionate with me. He says that the reason he is so involved in my life is because he cares about me and wants only the best for me. No, it couldn’t be that.

These are the things he says he does to show his love. But it’s not love; it’s not-love. Not-love is a surface-level façade where he presents his actions as having loving intentions. Not-love is watching him make links of what I thought was a beautiful necklace that turned out to be handcuffs. These handcuffs would hold me hostage away from my family, friends and anyone who tried to get close to me. These handcuffs would distance me from any self-love or confidence, but also from the person I truly am. These handcuffs would make me conform to his ideal woman, while also making me someone I don't recognize. Not-love is him directing people around him like they are puppets and he the ventriloquist, in-control of everyone’s thoughts of him.

He does the laundry in order to get praised for taking on a task that needed to be done. He cooks me homemade meals in order to ensure that I am eating healthy and under the calorie limit he has set for me. He says that I need to lose weight in order to control me and perfect me. He fights with me because he desires dominance and won’t tolerate it when I disobey him. He is so involved in my life because he is insecure, therefore refusing to allow me my own sovereignty and confidence; he can’t risk giving me something of my own to cling to.  He is affectionate with me in order to pull me back into our toxic relationship. He buys me expensive gifts so I believe he loves me, as well as to amend his mistakes. He tells me that I am wrong about everything because I am “too emotional,” and not thinking rationally. He tells me that my friends are using me to get something out of me because he is trying to isolate me from them. When I come home from work, he asks me what I had eaten the entire day, not because he worries that I am starving myself, but that I would gain weight. He says that 45 minutes is enough time to spend together. That our meals sustain our relationship and justifies the time he spends playing video games (which usually takes up the majority of his day). He calls me ‘boring,’ because I never want to do the things he wants, but when I ask for him to do something that I want, it’s always, “No”.

Love is supposed to be a support system, and it’s supposed to be with someone who will give you the attention you need without making you feel like it’s too much to ask for. It is supposed to make you feel confident in your own body, as well as make you feel good every chance it gets.

Love isn't supposed to make you feel like you need to change your entire identity, nor is it supposed to treat you like you don’t exist. Trust me, I’ve lived through this and it is painful to have your self-esteem broken down day after day by the person who is supposed to love you the most. Some people will say that this is a part of love, but should love force you to change the way that you live your life to be with that person?. I gave up my entire life outside of them just to make them happy, but also to ensure I wouldn’t be ridiculed for not doing so.

I was told that I would never be successful because I am too emotional. As women, we have been told that our only purpose in life is to procreate and give our love to others, which is why so many women end up in abusive relationships: they are forced into molds by a sense of duty, and failure to conform is portrayed through a more negative lens than that of a toxic relationship. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, created a new bill for gun control after a mass shooting at a mosque. Jacinda has been underestimated because she is a woman, but she has excelled in more areas than any man who has been in a position of political power. If she was able to do this, despite being scrutinized over the people she governs over, and if we are able to look at multiple examples of women who defy the odds or expectations that society builds against them, then why is it so hard to believe that I could be just as successful? Why am I less than anyone else? Well, because it has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with him. He thinks that if I have any power in me, I will leave. And he has every right to feel that way.  Would it really be so difficult for me to go ahead and achieve my dreams, just because he told me I couldn’t? He obviously doesn’t think that any woman could be in a higher position than him, but we will prove him wrong.