Knights in shining armor are great, right? What happens when you don’t need to be saved anymore? What happens when you're no longer a damsel in distress and there is nothing left to fix? What happens to the happily ever after?
This is a story about a damsel, myself, who met someone at her most vulnerable place in life. My knight was a tall, not age appropriate at all, but seemingly adoring guy.
He was my shoulder to cry on and the rock to support me at my lowest. He basically pushed himself into my life until I realized I needed to be with him.
So let me backtrack a little to explain this “damsel” period of my life. I was in the process of divorcing my husband of five years. He was a husband who emotionally, and at times, had physically abused me for the entirety of the marriage. Then he cheated on me while I was out of the country and finally released me from the hell he had created for me.
Subsequently, I acted out like a teenager who had never left the house, desperately trying to find my lost self-esteem in any self-destructive way possible. I found myself with someone way more damaged than myself who decided to take advantage of my self-destructive behavior, and wound up being assaulted in my own bedroom. Naturally, I fell apart.
I was sent to a thirty-day treatment center for “trauma”, and yes I use quotation marks because I don't feel like I deserved to be there among the unimaginable real trauma that the other residents had survived. My knight-to-be had agreed to stay at my apartment and watch my dog (the real love of my life) while I was away.
I arrived at home; emotionally raw from the most intensive therapy I had ever experienced, and was greeted by my knight who had developed a loving relationship with the love of my life (my dog). I thought maybe this guy could actually be one of those mythical “good guys”.
It turned out he was for a long time. At the height of our relationship, I felt like a whole person for the first time in my life. We lived together for over a year and I decided to transfer to a new school and to move to his hometown, 800 miles away from everything I knew. I made the decision to follow him and rationalized that if a community could produce someone like my knight, it would be a good, warm community for me.
In the months leading up to the move, I started to change. Once again I was relying on another person for my happiness because I knew, when I moved, he would be all I had. And so I fell deeper into my knight and farther away from my sense of self, shrinking into less than a person and deteriorating into a small piece of something “whole”.
When I mentioned the age inappropriateness this is what I meant. I was thirty-one. He was twenty-one. This was an easy disparity to ignore before the move. He fit easily into my thirty-one year old life. It was the two of “us” in our little bubble with my dog.
Then I moved and the bubble burst. It hit me like a brick to the face. I was no longer in our bubble. I was now in a place where people were twenty-one, or younger, and still binge drinking (at bars!), and I needed to change myself, once again, to be with someone. So I did. I pretended to be twenty-one and drink like a twenty-one year old and tried to keep up with the three, four, or even five-day benders they would go on. It was exhausting and eventually it took its toll on me. I would drink and blackout and become angry. Angry that I had to change again and that my knight was no longer the person I fell in love with. He had regressed into the twenty-one year old, or even teenage behavior that I thought he had surpassed. I was left in this place, with no one except him, and then the world exploded.
We didn't believe in passwords on phones or computers. We were “open and honest”. One night, I used his computer. What I found turned my world, which included only him at this point since I knew no one there, upside down.
My rapidly regressing knight had slept with his ex-girlfriend (from high school of course) a week before I moved here. He had moved our belongings, and my dog, first while I visited my family for Christmas. He not only had sex with her, but also, the next day, watched videos of her (sexual videos) and requested more. He claimed to have been blacked out for two days. I also met her a week after this happened when I moved here. The smirk she had on her face at that time made all the sense in the world now.
Now I don't want to seem like I'm the only person ever to have a significant other cheat on them. Not even in the slightest. This is more of a cautionary tale to never lose who you are in someone else.
That was my downfall. I forgot that I was a person. I became attached to another, where he was everything, and I was just a small fragment of a person. I always boasted to my family that the best part of our relationship was that we were both whole people individually and the relationship was the bonus. Well when that changed when I made my life decisions based on his, and I guess that was the beginning of the end. Once again I had lost myself.
One hospitalization later, after an act of desperation to get me out of this awful microcosm of toxicity, and I am now picking up the pieces of me. And thank God for that. Now is the time to find me again. I no longer have to pretend to be someone I'm not, I no longer have to pretend to still be in love with someone who turned into a stranger.
Each day gets a little better. Granted, yoga, more yoga, some Pilates, and yes wine (at times), helps as well.
I guess the moral of this story is that knights in shining armor are great. They do serve a purpose. But once that purpose has been served you have to let them go.
I don't want to speak for anyone else, but for me, I will be my own knight (and princess if I feel like it) and I will save myself. That is what I need. To save myself will be my own greatest accomplishment. Once that happens, I will stronger than ever. And the next time I see a seemingly knight-like guy, I will say hello and keep moving forward. I won't need rescuing (nor should anyone). I will do it all by myself.