I’ve been going back and forth in my head about how I wanted to write this. I wrote several drafts. I thought about how our friends would think if they read this and the judgement I would face because of it. It’s taken me a long time to not worry about what other people think. This is my life and what I experienced was painful and hard. Nobody said I had to share every detail but I pray that other people don’t have these kinds of relationships so if my story helps even one person…I’m okay with that.
Now before I start, this is in no way me shaming my ex-boyfriend. I loved him truly but a relationship between us just wasn’t meant to be.
My ex and I were together about 2 years but had been friends for some time prior. We had an intense connection and spent so much of our time together. But that’s the thing. When the relationship was good, it was extremely good! When the relationship was bad…it took both of us to some very dark places. Jealousy and insecurity ran the relationship 90% of the time.
He had been cheating on me for several months and whenever I confronted him about it he would lie. On paper it seems so simple – just break up with him! The problem was manipulation. My ex knew how to manipulate me into staying. Knew how to manipulate me into thinking I was crazy. Knew how to manipulate me to make it seem like everything was my fault and I believed everything. My self-esteem was so low that I even had myself convinced that I would never be able to find anyone else to love me. Mentally, I was exhausted. Emotionally, I was battered. Physically, I changed. The Kait I knew was disappearing before my eyes in every single way. But I loved this person and I had hope that our relationship would pull through. Soon, things weren’t good enough. The brave faces I would pull, sacrifices I made, lies I told to keep him happy…they weren’t good enough. I was constantly being watched, constantly being interrogated, and constantly on egg shells.
The stress, anxiety, and mental torment of the relationship finally pushed me to realize what was happening and I had had enough. As I said earlier, I truly loved my ex. I’ve never loved anyone more fiercely than him but the moment we broke up was an instant relief. The whole world suddenly seemed silent. I wasn’t being accused of things I didn’t do. I wasn’t being told how bad I was at communicating. I wasn’t worrying about how to say things that wouldn’t ruin the day. All I had to worry about was me. I don’t think I’ve put myself first in years….so…what now?
Healing. Discovering. Loving myself.
I started with extra therapy sessions because I knew I was going to need it. The first session was the hardest because I had to open up about everything. Every little secret I had kept. There was a lot of hurt, anger, and guilt. While therapy helped, and continues to, the real work was when I was by myself. I was honestly surprised at how well I did on my own. For years I was terrified of being alone or being single and I quickly found out how much I loved it. I loved my freedom and loved having the power to make my own choices.
I started to blossom. I choose that word because for so long I felt caged, small, and hidden. I was hearing comments about myself that I hadn’t heard in a very long time — “You look so happy. You look healthy. There’s a new glow around you.” And I felt all of these things.
So now that I feel this way I’ve become a little more impulsive. I’m buying the clothes that I like and breaking out of my comfort zones. I’m going out on adventures to places I felt I couldn’t go to before. I even said yes to going to a party! I’m finding confidence in myself to be who I want to be and finding the confidence to try new things. Every relationship is different and every person will handle a break up differently but here is what I found that helped me immensely to love myself again:
- Allow Yourself to Feel – I kept a lot bottled up over the last few years and so now I just let myself feel my emotions as they come. It’s okay to feel and no emotion is wrong. You are entitled to have your feelings and to feel how you feel about any situation. NOBODY has control over that…even if they think they do. Allowing myself to feel my emotions helped get me back in touch with myself and learn what made me happy, what made me miserable, and areas I needed to improve on either by myself or with the help from my therapist.
- Love Being Alone – Being an introvert makes this one a little bit easier. And when I say “love being alone”, I don’t mean just being at your home alone. Go to the movies, on a hike, shopping, getting food, literally ANYTHING alone with yourself. I found a new sense of independence and confidence knowing that I could do anything whenever or wherever I wanted. I didn’t need to try and have someone with me at all times or be scared that they wouldn’t want to come along. I just went and did the thing I wanted to do and loved every minute of it!
- Cleanse, Purge, + Redecorate – I constantly purge but I have an added desire to after going through a break up. The saying is old but completely true, “Out of sight. Out of mind”. When I felt ready, I got rid of things that either reminded me of my ex or things that were given to me by him. This process should NOT be rushed. It can sometimes take a week or a few months. This person was special to you. The relationship meant It’s OK to still hold onto things because of the sentiment and those should only be tossed when you’re ready to do so. Redecorating my room also gave me a new sense of my identity. I found my style had changed and I wanted my room to look different and fit the person I was becoming.
- Be With Friends – I fell out of touch with a lot of my friends. Some I was almost certain probably wanted nothing to do with me anymore since I ghosted them – I was wrong. The friends I have are quite spectacular and I would not have been able to get through a lot of obstacles in my life without them. For myself, I found I did not need to see my friends constantly or talk 24/7. I felt ok knowing that if I ever needed someone to talk to or go hang out with, I had the support I needed.
- Learn to Say No but Embrace New Experiences – Like I said earlier, I had been living my life for someone else and other people. I wasn’t doing stuff that made me truly happy. Now I’m training myself to say no and be OK with saying no. We as people do not enjoy all of the same things and that’s okay! I may not want to go to every event my friends are going to or do something that’s not going to make me happy on my day off. My life is for me to live. That being said, opening yourself up to new experiences brings new people and new adventures into your life. You may discover new hobbies for yourself and open up a world of possibilities. I’ve been impulsive with many decisions lately and that includes new experiences and traveling and I’ve been super excited!
Ending a relationship is never easy. Ending a bad one can be extremely difficult. You’ve lost sight of yourself or your values and don’t know what’s real or fake. It’s easy to get cuddled up by the Depression Kitty (do I have any Big Mouth fans here?). Things will always get easier. You hear it time and time again that it almost feels like those words mean nothing but it is true. I’ve convinced myself multiple times that life will always be negative and pointless and I’ve been proven wrong every time. I’ve experienced the beauty of the world, the true love from friendships, and the courage to continue fighting for myself.
A relationship does not define you. An ex-boyfriend/girlfriend does not define you. You define you.
Set yourself free and blossom into the person you want to be.