Let me preface this by saying this is not an easy post for me to write. I tend to like to shut this time period of my life out and not talk about it. Most of the time it feels like it was a whole different life all together, one that I don’t know how I got in to and what took me way too long to get out of.
With all of that being said, I believe this is an important topic to talk about and one that shouldn’t necessarily be shied away from. With all of the craziness and news headlines going on in the world today, I find myself feeling more empowered and willing to talk about such a sensitive topic. However, I’ve never really talked much about this time in my life, but here goes nothing …
Years ago, I was in a relationship that was very toxic. I won’t go into too much detail, but you know the kind of relationship I’m talking about. The toxic one. The one with all the red flags. The abusive one. Growing up, I never thought I’d be in that position, but there I was.
My boyfriend at the time was very controlling. He isolated me from my friends and family. If I put makeup on or tried to dress up nice, he would accuse me of doing that for other guys and cheating on him (which was actually the exact opposite of what was happening). I was scared to even speak to another man because I didn’t want to upset my boyfriend, which looking back now was AN OBVIOUS RED FLAG, along with many others that I refused to accept at the time.
I really believe that when you’re in it, you refuse to see the red flags and signs that it’s time to get out. It wasn’t until after getting out of that relationship that I looked back and thought “WOW! Why did I stay in that so long?”
It was like I was literally scared to live my life. So many things that brought me joy I gave up in order to not upset my boyfriend. Bravo! (Real Housewives?!) Country music. Spending time with my family and my friends. All things I so immensely wish I would not have done just to try to make someone else happy.
As much as I was scared to do things that I enjoyed, I was also scared to get out of and lose that relationship. It was my first long term relationship, and I just thought that maybe this was how it was going to be. I accepted that kind of “love.” If I loved my boyfriend, this was just how my life was going to be and that was okay.
I don’t know what exactly the turning point was for me, but something just clicked. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life like this. I didn’t want this guy to be the father of my children. I didn’t want to be unhappy and scared and living on edge 24/7 for the rest of my life for the sake of my relationship.
When you’re in it, you’ll do anything to defend and fight for it. But once I took myself out of it, it was like my life began again. I became happy with myself and on my own. I loved myself and my life again. I looked forward to the future instead of fearing it.
As hard as that relationship was and as hard as it was for me to leave it, I’m thankful for what it taught me. It taught me to not accept less than what I deserve. It taught me what I didn’t want out of a relationship. It taught me patience and empathy. Most importantly, now being a mom to two boys, I have such a focus on how I want to raise them to treat women: to be kind and loving and respectful. I believe that time in my life happened for a reason, and without it I might not be where I am today.
Getting out of that relationship led me to love myself and be happy on my own. It led me to my husband and my happiness, and for that I’m thankful.
If you’re struggling in any kind of relationship that is less than the love you deserve, know that it doesn’t have to be like that forever. Make a change. You won’t regret it. Hugs to everyone who is/has ever experienced a relationship like that.