I feel like there’s definitely a time in everyone’s life when they come across and begin a relationship with someone who is manipulative. I mean, in our defense, it’s not like we know this person is manipulative, not yet. I can’t think of any reason why someone would willingly become friends with a manipulative person. No, that’s the trickiest part of the whole thing: you usually don’t realize they’re like this until something very bad happens. At least, that’s been my experience.

Manipulative people can come in many different forms. They can be rude and standoffish, or even polite and lovely to the common eye. They can be someone you met outside of a coffee shop on the street, or someone you’ve known your entire life. They can be someone who thinks they sing SO much better than you and calls themselves your best friend, or they can even be your mom and/or dad. It gets to a point where even them saying “I love you” is a manipulative thing to do, because they’re trying to get you to stay even though they’re not a healthy way of life for you. They’ll treat you like dirt, but then cover it all up with an apology and those dirty three words, and just like that you’ve fallen back under their spell. And it sucks.

Sometimes I sit in my room and freak out, wondering if I’m a manipulative person. In my experience, a lot of manipulative people who have hurt me don’t actually know they’re doing so. They truly don’t believe they’re the ones in the wrong, so couldn’t that very well be me? I hope it’s not.

It’s weird how manipulative people have a talent for twisting words so effortlessly. If you say anything against them, point something out that they’re doing that you dislike, they can flip the conversation in an instant and make the entire thing out to be your fault. It’s like their defensive mechanism. And somehow, you wind up believing them. You think yes, I’m the one in the wrong. It’s all my fault. I deserve this treatment. If you don’t already have low self-esteem, you might after a month or so of being around a manipulative person. If you do have low self-esteem, expect it to plummet to negative levels that you didn’t even know existed. I’ve had nights where he told me I brighten his day, yet I still lay in bed crying and wondering how anyone could ever love me.

When you’re finally, finally able to cut ties with a manipulative person, you still blame yourself. You find yourself wishing you could crawl back to them, because for some crazy and unexplainable reason you still love them very much. You forget all about all of the things they did to hurt your heart, instead only flipping through photos of the two of you together and wishing you could have that again. Instead, you have to find a bunch of new music to listen to (hey, Neon Trees), because you just can’t listen to that great indie band anymore without thinking of a manipulative person. You suddenly have a hatred for the Colts sports team, even though you don’t keep up with any sport besides hockey, because a manipulative person’s favorite team is the Colts. And god, you really hurt when you stalk the hell out of their instagram page and see they’re happy and doing just fine without you, because you’re sitting here trying to piece your life back together because they meant the world to you, even though it seems that you were nothing more to them than a shoulder to cry on because no one else would listen.

This might sound familiar to some of you. How do you get through it, you may ask? How do you get over it? Well, you find friends who you know love you for who you are, you find people who show you the opposite of what a manipulative person did. You watch John Mulaney and laugh really hard because even though a manipulative person liked John’s jokes, too, they’re so great that even a manipulative person can’t ruin them for you. You find comfort and inspiration from a great band, and you find great books that you can relate to and yet say that there’s hope for you. You write out your feelings, you sing louder, you drink a lot of pumpkin spice lattes. One of your friends blocks a manipulative person from your twitter so you can stop torturing yourself by seeing someone retweet them onto your timeline.

You move on until you can find love again, real and true love, whether it be in the form of a mentor or best friend or even a significant other. Because just because a manipulative person affected your life, that doesn’t mean he/she/they destroyed it. You take a deep breath, and you let yourself say that you will be okay.