Dedication: To me, myself and I. We made it.
When you’re young you have your whole life ahead of you and it is only you that decides what your future will hold. All you have is school, your family and your friends. You don’t expect your life to change when you’re only 15.
But if it does change, you’re certainly not ready. You don’t see where you’ll end up three years down the line. You focus on the present. But even then, you could be blinded by the present, unable to see what is unravelling before you. Something what you thought was amazing, your everything, could be destroying you from the inside out. If only we could tell our younger selves, warn ourselves about what was to come. Tell them that this big, new and exciting change isn’t necessarily going to be a good change. Far from it. I wish I could have told myself that.
Growing up I was surrounded by fairy tales, once upon a times and happily ever after’s… and even at a young adolescent age I longed for just that. For someone to be my prince charming.
And at fifteen I got just that. He was perfect, my first love, my everything. No, my only thing. Thinking back, I don’t know whether it was love or an infatuation, but at the time I believed it was love and that he loved me. The belief that he loved me in return is why it took me so long to realise what was going on. It was the reason I let him get away with everything.
Arguing is ok because at the end of the day, I believe he loves me.
Its ok for him to call me names and insult me, because at the end of the day I believe he loves me.
Its ok for him to destroy all my other relationships with my family and friends because at the end of the day, I believe he loves me.
He was a master of manipulation. He made me feel as though my existence would be meaningless without him, and at one point I believed I wouldn’t be able to live without him. That’s when he knew he had me tied up in his little web of deceit. When he threatened to leave me and I begged him to stay, crying out saying that I promise I would make him happy… That I would do anything to make him happy. Because that’s what you do right? You want to make the person you love most in the world happy.
He didn’t just threaten to leave me once. I didn’t just beg for forgiveness once, not that I did anything in need of forgiveness. But he made me feel as though I was the cause of it all.
Over a two-and-a-half-year period, this happened hundreds, if not thousands of times. And each time it happened I lost a little bit of myself. He took my dignity, my self-respect and my confidence and left behind a shattered, broken shell of a girl. Each time it happened I felt heartache all over again. I didn’t know my heart could be broken so many times by the same person. But it was ok, because I believed he loved me.
My family saw this happening, my friends saw it and they all said how he wasn’t good for me. I didn’t listen to them. Why? Because I believed he loved me. He says he loves me so everything will be fine, I’m loved by someone. And that was a feeling I craved and wanted more than anything.
However, I escaped. I’m calling it my escape because that is how it felt. A weight off my shoulder, free from a prison I had no idea I was in. And eventually I, very slowly, came around to my senses about the situation.
My friends were all turning eighteen and started going out to clubs, a very normal thing to do when you reach this milestone age. I never saw the appeal of it all until I started to feel left out, wanting to know what they meant and experience it.
He wasn’t on board. He felt like I was doing it just to fit in and be like everyone else, saying this wasn’t the girl he fell in love with. He accused me of cheating and/or being too interested in other guys; which was ridiculous! Because he was my everything. Nevertheless, I did go out on my eighteenth birthday. It was an experience I needed. I did get attention from other guys but I knew I was loyal, even if he didn’t.
But that attention was unlike what I had previously experienced.
See, he had a way of making me feel as though, if it wasn’t for him no one would love me, or find me attractive or be interested in me. As if he was doing me a favor that I was his.
When I got home, I messaged to update him on my night. That I really enjoyed and it was a good change. I didn’t get a reply.
Shouldn’t he be happy that I enjoyed?
That’s something I noticed about him, when he didn’t like something I said or did he would just go radio silent. At first it would drive me to insanity, fearing he would come back and say “No, you’re not good enough, that’s it.” But by then, it just made me think that this lack of communication is childish. If something is wrong, then surly you should speak about it. You should trust your significant other in scenarios like this.
This was the first red flag I had seen clear as day. I was changing, I was becoming aware of every little flicker of a red flag. Even though they had been waving right before me the entire time. I was becoming fed up of him always making me feel like I’m the bad guy about everything I did or said. And I was starting to question whether this was “love”, because when you’re in love you are supposed to be happy. You aren’t supposed to be crying yourself to sleep every night, you aren’t supposed to feel worthless in a relationship and you aren’t supposed to let your partner control you.
The next thing is what drew the line for me.
We had a brief spell where there were no arguments and things seemed to have been getting better, when I received a message off him saying “I have something to say.” Now in my head although I didn’t really want to break up, I hoped that this would be an excuse of his to say its over and then this time I won’t plead with him. I was nearly there, nearly strong enough to break free, to walk away from him. I just needed him to start it off.
“I hooked up with someone.”
“But its ok because it made me realize how much I love you, and don’t want to be with anyone else.”
For a couple of weeks, I was numb. I didn’t know what to say or do, I didn’t fight or kick off at him, I went through everything. Right from the beginning. And the conclusion? To get out of this toxic relationship.
Whatever lies and deceit I was being told to make me believe and reassure myself that he loved me were no match for this. This is a well-known fact; if you love someone, you do not cheat. You do not knowingly hurt them.
So, when I saw the opportunity, I did what I thought I would never have the courage to do. And I was surprised by his reaction. There wasn’t a big argument, all he said was that “I have given up on the relationship”. Which was true in one way, but I knew despite whatever he said, it was not my fault. It was his, and he was the one to give me that well needed push to be able to go through with a break up.
A soon as it ended. I automatically felt better; like a weight off of my shoulders, like the darkness was finally clearing a little. I didn’t cry. But just because I didn’t cry, it doesn’t mean that I was ok.
That relationship left me broken. I didn’t know who I was, who I was meant to be and what I was meant to do. I couldn’t let anyone in, for fear of being hurt. But our emotions are what makes us, us. I tried being heartless, I tried not caring and for a while it worked. I didn’t want to become attached to anyone just in case I was hurt again. I didn’t want them to have that power over me. Because I was finally in control over every aspect of my life.
But then being that way is lonely and I ended up believing that I needed to be in a relationship again. I was envious of all the happy couples and resented them at the same time. Why couldn’t that be me? What did I do to deserve this?
So I tried too hard and threw myself too much into the dating pool. Just hoping something will magically happen. And I realize now that I wasn’t giving guys a chance because I was too picky and looking for perfection. But the main reason? I just wasn’t ready to commit and open myself up to someone.
Hand on heart I thought I would get over it quicker than what I did. I got over him no problem because he was toxic… but the mental scars took a while to heal, they’re still healing.
It’s funny because at the time I thought I was ok, I made out like I was handling everything. But looking back, I didn’t handle it well at all. After the break up I went to clubs multiple times a week because I needed a distraction from the way I was feeling. A distraction in the form of alcohol, dancing and guys. I bottled everything up in order to show everyone I’m ok and that I wasn’t fragile. I didn’t want to be fragile, but I was.
The truth is, while writing this its the first time I’ve processed everything. Because, finally, I can say I’m ok. I wish I had spoken out about everything, to unload some of it because keeping it in wasn’t healthy. But I guess because it’s taken so long to get here, it meant I found who I was. I know who I am, and I am far from that little girl who believed in her first love, and I’m not that lost, broken girl either. I’m head-strong with a heart of gold that cares too deeply than I’d like to admit. I’m smart and stubborn and comfortable in my own skin. I started to love myself and my life again. I stopped thinking that I will never find someone, because I know eventually I will.
I pray that anyone who has been in a situation remotely the same as me take the following advice. Quit overthinking, replaying scenarios that are long in the past, feeding self-doubt and believing you are worthless. You deserve more than that. Don’t be the victim they made you into, be a warrior.
You will find someone, it will happen for you. You spend months heartbroken over someone, thinking someone will never love you again, or that you will never love again. But one day, when you least expect it, you’ll meet someone. And they’ll make you believe in fairy tales and ever afters and they’ll make you question whether it was even love in the first place. Because what you are experiencing now, is unlike anything you are used to. It doesn’t have to happen straight away, it can happen years from now or maybe next Tuesday. So, live in the present again, enjoy being single. It wont last forever.
It took me a while to believe in myself again, but you must remember and trust that there is a future waiting for you, beyond what you might be able to grasp at this precise moment. I am capable of great things, and I deserve happiness.