The Cruelty of “I Knew You’d Come Back”

He played me like a fiddle

Judith Victoria
6 min readSep 2, 2022


Photo by Khamkéo Vilaysing on Unsplash

He didn’t answer, so I repeated my question. A quick smile flashed over his face.

“Honestly? I wasn’t even that worried because I knew you’d come back. You always have. I go too far, you leave, and after a lot of hard work from me, you come back.”

I was too flabbergasted to respond. A million thoughts tumbled through my head, bouncing off my most painful memories.

When he pulled me closer to give me a big hug, I let him. Because as much as I wanted to smack him in the face, I needed to be held more. This time, I was 100% sure I wouldn’t come back. Because he was right. This wasn’t the first time he ruined everything.

For me, this time felt different, though.

When I packed my bags and left, I was sure it was for good this time. So when I rented a studio apartment, I signed a six-month lease without blinking. The cramped space was my stepping stone to a new life—a life without him.

I was 18 when we met and 33 when I left. I had no idea how to be an adult without him. I’d never been an adult without him. I struggled with my sudden independence.

One of the things I hated in our relationship was how things always had to go his way. He would either manipulate me into getting what he wanted or bulldozer all over me and my needs.

It used to cause awkward fights, because setting boundaries for me was hard. And at one point, I realized it was easier to give in. To do what he wanted and then complain about how shit everything in my life was — because of him.

Instead of asking him not to step on me, I lay down in front of him and let him dance a little jig on his favorite little doormat.

I hate to admit it, but I loved being able to blame him for everything that went wrong in my life. Taking responsibility for your own actions is hard. Dealing with consequences is agonizing. But blaming someone else is fun, sexy, and free.

So when I was suddenly single and had no one to blame for my life falling apart, I was scared and elated at the same time.

Sure, my apartment was shit, but I had chosen it. Suddenly I was free to do…



Judith Victoria

Essays on life, love, and other lousy stuff. Otherworldly flash fiction & romantic short stories. Failing forward. Perpetually amazed.