He Abused Me As Much As He Loved Me

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He was great at apologizing. To his advantage, my mental health probably rerouted every argument back as being my fault, making me believe that my emotions and personality was the source of our bickering. But maybe it was simply that I was just naiive and young and inexperienced with love. Or maybe it was a combination of everything.

“Hi Honey!” I said with a big smile while jumping into the passenger seat of his car. I was excited to get our day started before he had to drive one hour back home — meaning, I wouldn’t see him again for a few more weeks or sometimes a month.

“Babe,” he said, sounding annoyed.

“What?” I answered, looking at him confusingly.

“Seriously babe? You aren’t even going to give me a kiss?” He turned to me, eyes filled with a slight anger.

“Why can’t we just go and I’ll kiss you later?” I questioned.

“You do this every time babe. It’s like you don’t really love me or something.”

“I do love you and I do give you kisses,” I replied, getting irritated. “Why are you getting mad?”

“Because you don’t do it every time I come. It’s like you don’t care.”

“I do care! But do I really have to do it every single time? We can always still kiss throughout the day.”

He turned away from me, upset. “Yes, I want you to do it every time. You’re supposed to, don’t you think so? Do you not miss me or something?”

That hit a heartstring. Was this my fault? Did I not show him enough love. Maybe I wasn’t romantic enough? This was my first relationship so I wouldn’t know and maybe he was right.

We bickered until I couldn’t take it anymore. I gave him the silent treatment.

“I’m sorry babe,” he finally said after some time. He grabbed my hands and looked me in the eye innocently. “I didn’t mean to get mad. I just miss you so much.”

Still upset, I answered back anyway because every minute with him was precious since we didn’t get to see each other often. “I miss you too, but you didn’t have to be like that.”

“Can I just get a kiss babe? It’ll make everything better. And I want it every time you get in the car.”

Feeling guilty, I gave him a kiss. “I’m sorry I was mean. I’ll do better. I’m sorry.”

“So I won and he lost,” I said with a confident and silly laugh while walking to my car from campus.

“So you’re just going to let another man touch you?” he said harshly over the phone.

Flabbergasted, I replied, “Um, no. He’s just a friend. He’s like my brother. He’s also a Vang like me. I mean my friends and I were all just playing a game.”

“What if he starts to like you, huh?”

“He won't!” I argued back. “He knows that I’m dating you and he isn’t like that.” I wanted to cry. It felt like we were always arguing about one thing or another. But didn’t all couples fight? I didn’t really know; maybe this was normal.

“You don’t know that,” he said.

“I do know!” It was almost impossible to not hear a counter-reply from him, so I simply said, “I only love you.”

“Babe,” he started, “it’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s the people around you that I can’t trust. I just worry.”

“You don’t have to,” I said desperately. “They’re my friends from high school. They’re good people.”

“Babe, just listen to me. Don’t do this again, okay? Don’t ever let him or anyone else touch you.”

Feeling guilty, I reluctantly said, “Okay, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”

“I love you babe,” he said, as if nothing happened.

Like a reflex, with no emotion, I replied, “I love you, too.”

“Yea, it’s so crazy that we went to the same high school but didn’t even know each other. He’s pretty cool though. Seems nice.”

“I think he likes you,” he said accusingly over the phone.

Thinking it was a joke, I replied, “Uh, no. Dumb.”

“Babe, I’m serious. You need to be careful.”

Puzzled, I said, “Okay…”

“Also, don’t ever be partners with him again,” he instructed.

“I didn’t even choose to be partners with him!” I refuted defensively. “My professor paired us up randomly by counting us off. I can’t control that.”

“Babe, please. This is the second guy in class that you’ve talked about. Why are you always talking about guys so much?”

“That other guy,” I began, “we just happened to find out that we had two classes together. It happens: people can coincidentally sign up for the same classes without knowing each other. And I just happen to be talking about two guys this week. I never only talk about guys. You should know me better than that. We’ve been dating for two years.”

“He could be stalking you,” he said out of the blue.

Furious, I said, “Are you serious? He’s married with three kids and seems really happy. I don’t think he would do that or have time for it.”

And like clockwork, he had something to say in return: “It doesn’t mean he won’t try to cheat and get at you. Please babe, I don’t care. Just listen to me.”

Upset, I told him that I didn’t want to talk anymore and hung up. He called the next day, apologizing about his words. He would say once again how much he loved me and how he just didn’t trust the people around me. He made me feel so guilty that I would excessivley apologize to him and we would go on with our relationship for another year.

Hmong womxn | Feminist | Surviving & Healing

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