Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios! I am so excited to be a part of this tour. Heather is one of my favorite authors, and this book really is amazing, and one that is so very important! This wasn’t an easy post to write, but I think it’s quite vital to know that we’re not alone, so… there you have it 😀Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on June 13th 2017
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review
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Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.
Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.
Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.
Bad Romance is the kind of book that I’ll recommend that every single person reads. If you’ve been in a relationship, want to be, have friends who do, whatever. It’s important, vitally so. My initial impetus for this post was a “signs I wish I’d seen” topic, but it morphed as I went along. Because here’s the thing: Of course we all want to see the reasons before situations intensify, before they get beyond our control. Is that realistic, though? In some cases, sure, which is why teaching warning signs is important. But sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you’re the most knowledgeable person around. Feelings often cloud our logical judgment, even turn us into someone we never thought we’d be.
Let’s rewind a bit. Way back, even, to when I was Grace’s age, even younger. I’d seen women in my family, friends of my parents, and as I got older, even friends of my own struggle with relationships that were clearly harmful to them in some way. And I suppose, as we tend to do when we can’t quite relate to the experience, and as I definitely did, I had the thoughts of “wow, I would never be that girl”. How easy a thing to say when you’re never in the situation. My mom had left a really bad marriage long before I was in existence, and I always thought it was the absolute bravest thing I had ever heard her do- and this was a women who used to skydive for shits and giggles.
I think what I underestimated in these situations was that our emotions have such control over our choices, and often mask the right choice, the choice maybe we’d want to make under different circumstances. Choices we’d swore to ourselves we’d make if ever presented with them. Reading Grace’s story in Bad Romance, the signs were clear, no question. It was difficult to read, for such a myriad of reasons. But the main reason was that this story is so honest and made me confront some really ugly truths.
I could probably spend hours talking about all the red flags that I “missed”. But the truth is, I didn’t miss them at all. They were there; I am and was perfectly capable of seeing them. I even discussed them with others. No, these signs didn’t elude me at all. Rather, my passivity and general terror in regards to making decisions and change were the catalysts to me not doing a damn thing to change my situation.
But we should talk about the signs, so that you can be sure to see them too, if you ever find yourself in such a situation. Certainly, I was able to see the infidelity in various forms. Yet I went back. After it happened once, twice, and then more times than I can even count. There’s the physical intimidation, which is an interesting sign. It’s more subtle than direct physical contact, but certainly is a red flag. Because hitting things, making someone feel like you are capable of harming them, that’s an abuse in its own right. There’s the emotional components that would probably take me an entire post in itself to list, but the gist is that nothing I did mattered, and social isolation was incredibly real.
The irony really is that it wasn’t a situation where I was so “in love” that I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving. Truth be told, I don’t think it was ever even love to begin with, in retrospect of course. No, my reasons were… alarmingly mundane. Being scared of having difficult conversations, letting my family down, feeling selfish, financial ramifications, those are the things I struggled with. Didn’t matter that I’d been unhappy for as long as I can remember, didn’t matter that I felt like I was a shell of my former self.
And the worst part of the whole thing is, I blamed myself every minute. Not for the behavior that I knew was wrong, but for allowing myself to remain in the situation despite the behaviors. Despite my insistence to myself that I was a strong person, that I would not let myself be treated like this, it took a long time before I was finally able to admit to myself once and for all that I was done.
But still, the blame- the self blame- continued. Because I did see the warning signs. I saw every single one. And I kept putting myself right back into the situation. I don’t fully know if it’s because of insecurity or straight up fear, but dissolving a marriage is probably not supposed to be an easy choice, I suppose. Eventually, I had to look at it like this: Yes, I messed up a bit. But not because I was cognitively trying to make myself unhappy. And either I could continue to beat myself up over something that was in the past, or I could try to cut my old self some slack, and try to plan to move forward.
I wish I could tell you that there’s this awesome happy ending at the end of this post. But I can’t. I don’t have a tale of happily ever after that took place when I realized that I am a person who deserves better. But maybe that bit of forgiveness, the knowledge of knowing that I don’t need to sit around in misery for the rest of my life, that is a happy ending in itself. And I hope that I can continue to forgive the mistakes I have made, as well as those I inevitably still have to make.