Dear Diary

Last Christmas I Gave you my Heart

breakupcover

One of the hardest things to navigate as a blogger is where to stop, how much to share, when to block people out and when to let it all out. In a lot of ways blogging is about living your best life, especially a sparkly happy little blog like mine, so being real about the shit you’re going through can often seem nearly impossible.

That said, I think as bloggers we have a unique responsibility to share our pain, to let others know that they’re not the only ones questioning why life can be so hard and how to get through the next week. I try to be as honest as I can when it comes to daily posting, but the fact of the matter is, in a lot of ways, my life and my brand bleed together, and it’s become harder and harder to stay honest in recent months.

Sometimes, things are just too sad to say out loud, never mind write down. But I think it’s important to talk about what I’ve been going through the past year and a half. To hold myself accountable and ensure it never ever happens again.

I used to think I was invincible. Confident and strong with rock solid values and a great sense of self, I pictured myself as my own little planet with all of the mess of the world orbiting, but never actually touching me. I was happy with myself, my life, my friends, and everyday I woke up feeling, well, blessed, for lack of a better word.

But then something happened, something I can’t really explain in a logical way. In short, I let someone take my magic. I promised to protect it, and I failed. Despite all of my self value and strength, I ended up in an emotionally abusive relationship.

2016 taught me a lesson – no matter how successful and sparkly you are, how strong and full of conviction you feel, it is always possible to fall victim to abuse. If you let the wrong person in, it’s surprisingly easy to lose yourself, and honestly it was a terrifying feeling. There were days where I barely made it out of bed, days where I refused to call my mom because she’d sense something wasn’t right, and so, so, so many days spent crying in restaurant bathrooms. And yet I stayed, and the longer I stayed the more guilty I felt for letting myself and my loved ones down. It was a special circle of hell that I never imagined I’d find myself in, and no matter how I tried to convince myself to get out while falling asleep each night, each morning I went right back to the same toxic routine.

By the end of November this year, I had nothing left. I was a shell of who I used to be, and the sparkle others had once told me could light up a room was gone from my eyes. In my world, crying was received not with support and love, but with anger and punishment. I was too emotional, too over the top, too depressed and not “chill” enough. I was too much for him to handle, I was “stressing him out” with my feelings. No matter how hard I worked to be less sensitive and to act exactly how my partner wanted, it wasn’t enough, and the more I tried to be his ideal, the more I realized that didn’t really include any of the traits that make me… me.

I started to doubt everything – my passions, my job, my personal style, even my sanity. He wanted me to “just be normal”, to dress more basic and to stop caring so much. So I tried everything I could think of – I stopped bleaching my hair so it would grow longer like he wanted, I started waxing, I bought black and grey clothing over baby pink. I stopped letting my dog sleep on my bed. I vacuumed obsessively to try and erase any trace of hair so he’d want to spend time at my house. I loaded up on antidepressants to try and be “happier”. I stopped working out (until he pointed out I was getting “bigger” and eating too many treats), stopped seeing friends unless they were the friends he wanted to see, and worst of all became a bitter, judgemental, negative person that I had never ever been. He once pulled over his car and made to look at myself in the mirror as I cried hysterically, his voice beside me saying “Look at yourself, this is how you look every day.” The person in the mirror was someone I no longer even recognized.

On some of the darker days I didn’t know if I’d make it out of this whole mess alive. Every time he ended things (which was almost monthly) I’d start to feel better, but he’d always find a way to manipulate me back in, though we both knew he didn’t really care for me all that much – certainly not in the way I unconditionally loved him. I was totally trapped, like a robot programmed to follow, and he was happy to have full control.

But a few weeks ago, I finally did it. I got away for a week with my best friend, and of all the people I’d hidden my situation from, I couldn’t hide from her. She saw right through me, and helped give me the power and support to understand how damaged and lost I had become. On the last day of the trip my partner decided to tell me at 1 AM that “I made him the worst version of himself”, and that was it, I finally snapped. I had loved this person harder than anyone before, had showered him with gifts, paid constantly for meals and adventures. I adored his family, fell in love with his friends, and every morning when I woke up at his house I scrambled to clean his apartment for him so he could arrive home later that day not feeling stressed. I was a doormat, a person who lived to serve and only asked for love and commitment in return. And somehow, some way, I made him the worst person he could be?

That night I cut contact. I was paralyzed with fear. How could I be without him when I no longer even felt like myself? My confidence was shot in every capacity, my belief in true love and romance was shattered. No one even knew the extent of what had been going on because I’d hid it in the hopes he’d get better and we could have a happily ever after. I felt like a fool, and it seemed too hard to face the time I’d wasted and all I’d lost.

But over the past few weeks I’ve remembered how much I really do have. All of my friends welcomed me back with open arms and big hugs, and I started to feel inspired by my work again. A dark fog lifted from over my life, and I found everything was still shiny and colourful, just as I’d left it. For the first time in a long time, I felt light again, and that sparkle in my eye got stronger by the day. I even met a few truly magical new people who would change my life for the better in ways I never could’ve dreamt up. With newfound energy, I started making moves: I changed my flights home for Christmas so I no longer had to be on a plane with him. I sent him a final note explaining he would never hurt me again, finally ending things on my own terms. I returned his things and had a friend pickup mine. I apologized to the people in my life who had been affected by my absence and negativity.

And then, I booked a one way ticket to LA. I had always begged my partner to go on a trip with me, offering to pay in full if he’d tag along on an adventure, but he always avoided it, and I grew more and more restless. Now that I’m free I’ll be spending my new year in places like Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and maybe even Hawaii or Mexico. I’m on a short list to go swim with Killer Whales in Norway. My Staff wants to meet up in New Orleans. The world is literally my oyster, and for the first time since that first date last summer I finally have the dream world that I so carefully crafted BACK.

So that’s that- there are a lot of BIG beautiful changes coming up fast, and I hope you guys are around for the ride. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not just suddenly amazing, I’m human after all. There are days where I still miss him, where I just want to call and ask “why” or “how” he was even able to break me down like he did. What did he gain? Why me? In the end though, I know he doesn’t have anything to say for himself… he never did. So I’ve simply closed the last chapter and started on a new book. I’ve got a feeling this next one reads a lot more like a fairytale.

I wrestled with writing this at first, but in the end I think emotionally abusive relationships are so often glazed over, hidden for the sake of the partner. I refuse to protect someone who did so much damage to my life, and I hope if anyone out there reading this is in the same controlling, cruel situation, you feel the support and inspiration to free yourself too. It’s not your fault this happened to you, it could happen to anyone.

Last Christmas, I gave him my heart. When I got up the courage to say “I love you” he acted as if I hadn’t spoken.

This year, to save me from tears, I’ll give it to someone special.

Cover image via. Pinterest

26 comments

  • in a time when so many people are writing about holiday traditions, gift guides and that awesome outfit for the holidays, this was truly a special read. your vulnerability is something to be incredibly proud of. you’ve let it all out so anything that does come back to you is nothing but pure love. I hope this next chapter brings you so much happiness and peace. you are making the right decision and living a life that is truly authentic to who you are. all the best! xo!

  • Besides this being a very well-written piece (and a breath of fresh air from all the fluff floating around the blogging world), it was incredibly brave of you to share this. I had no idea you were going through this, and I think sharing this will help other women (and men) who have found themselves in a similar situation but are too scared to do anything about it. You’re a gem – here’s to a happier Christmas than last and a fresh new start that focuses entirely on being the best version of YOU. xo

  • How much to share as a blogger is definitely a topic that causes pause… but sharing those things that help, that lift others up, or empower them to change their life or situation for the better has got to be the right choice. I loved this piece. I hope you have an amazing journey, YAY CALI!!!!!! and you BET I’m gonna be following along!

  • This was so so lovely to read. I’m so sorry for what you had to deal with, but I am impressed and proud with your courage and resilience.

  • Really touched by your post this morning. I had no idea this was going on and I’m so sorry to hear about this ordeal. You are incredibly brave for sharing your story with everyone. I’m so happy that you are standing up for yourself and chasing after your dreams and doing what makes you happy. You have always been such an inspiration and I’m thrilled to follow along the rest of your adventures. All my best xo

  • You are so incredibly brave to open up about this. I went through a similar situation at a young age (high school) and still have trouble opening up about it. When someone finds a way to take away the very essence of “you” it can be terrifying to find it again. But you will, and you will be stronger for it. Keep sparkling, your blog brings so much joy and color to the world! XO

  • You are a beautiful pink gem that shines and sparkles bright even in the darkest moments of life. I am sad to hear that your light was taken advantage of this past year, but I revel in the fact that your future looks as bright as you! You truly are an amazing human being and may you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  • Big hugs to you Alyssa. Wishing you all good things and happiness in the future – all the fun traveling adventures ahead will keep you distracted and inspire you, while your heart heals. Breakups are hell. I’m so glad to hear you got out of a relationship that did not make you feel good. You are a sparkly unicorn!! Your mane must flow in any gorgeous colour you wish! That Oscar Wilde quote is so true. Your partner should be your number one cheerleader and support, someone who makes you feel like your best self, not someone you feel scared of or who is a jerk. Thank you for sharing this difficult post. You are young, vivacious and beautiful and the world awaits! xo

  • I really admire you for writing about this. I know from experience how hard it is to get out of this kind of situation, and you’ve proved incredible strength here. All the best for 2017 and beyond. ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’•

  • Alyssa, I’ve been somewhat of a silent follower of yours. Always enjoying seeing what you’re up to, but never really saying much. I really feel that I need to tell you it’s so brave for you to share your story, and I hope that it reaches the right people who need to get their magic back too. You have so many incredible adventures ahead of you, and I can’t wait to watch them ๐Ÿ™‚ you have a great energy, and I hope you never feel otherwise ever again. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • You are so brave and beautiful. Thank you for having the strength to share this, and I am so happy to hear that you have an incredible, healthy adventure ahead of you. Sending love. Your readers will always be here to support you and all things pink and sparkly. xoxoxoxo

  • This was the most raw yet beautifully corageous thing I have read in a long time! Girl you are such an inspiration and so amazing don’t anyone even dull your sparkle!! Can’t wait to follow along on your amazing and write!! Here’s to 2017 being your best year yet!!

  • Wow! Your IG account got me curious what was next for you and what a shock to read about your experience. So sorry you went through that! No one has the right to dull someone else’s sparkle like that. I agree that it’s hard to be totally honest sometimes, I struggle with that too and have an overdue post to write myself. Good for you for saying good riddance and moving on. New adventures aren’t always easy but I’m such a believer in big risk, big reward and life lessons & surprises and it sounds like you have all of that waiting for you around the corner! PS: I may have to visit you in Palm Springs if I ever make it there for my own bucket list ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Sometimes life hands us grey skies and takes away all the glitter and rainbows. That’s when it’s the hardest to get back to the sunshine. Thank you for so eloquently sharing your story. You will undoubtably help someone else get back their sparkle. I wish you all the best in your New Year adventure.

  • I’m sorry you went through this, Alyssa. I went through something similar and understand what you’re going through. I want to give you a giant hug right now!!! I’m really glad that you’re getting your magic back, you are truly a special person who brings joy to this world and you can only do that when some jerk isn’t around to crush your beautiful, loving self. It’s good of you to share your story, emotional abuse isn’t really talked about or understood and hopefully someone in your situation will read this and find the strength they need to get out of their situation. Lots of love to you, girl. And enjoy your travels!!!

  • This post and the picture you posted on Instagram were both beautiful and inspiring. Having experienced something similar, I love your honesty and real ness. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • You’re amazing, Alyssa. The bravery that this must have took…. Thank you for sharing your story, you don’t know how many people your honest will help.

    xx,

    Catriona

  • Alyssa, this is so inspiring. You are filled with honesty, bravery and power, not to mention beautifully spoken words. Thanks for sharing your story. Can’t wait to see where this year takes you. xx Gabriella

  • It can be SO hard to see how things really are when you are still in them. Perspective is a gift, but requires distance and time away to really have it. You are so brave to not only be able to end the relationship with someone who clearly has no self-love (and thus, is unable to love anyone else in a healthy way), but to share about it on here. I have so much respect for you and am so happy that you have finally found your happiness and light again!

  • Alyssa, I have only met you twice(briefly), but I’m so happy for you that you are out of that abusive relationship. You deserve the world and you’re going out and getting it! Happy 2017!

  • Hi Alyssa! It sounds weird but I’ve followed your writing since Xojane days and I sincerely hoped Default was The One! And yet, again and again, he seemed douchey compared to your creativity and sincerity. I hope the next romance is better, keep smiling xoxo –Margo

  • Wishing you wonderful adventures in the New Year.

    You and your story will be an inspiration to other women who are in unhealthy relationships.

  • Alyssa, I’ve just been browsing for new blogs to follow and lighted upon yours, and read this as the first post. I felt really moved. I think romance is such a minefield, well it has been in my experience. It is filled with a lot of illusions (and a lot of hurt, of course). I just don’t want you to think you have wasted any of your life with this experience. I am sure it has taught you a lot about your own vulnerabilities and needs, in relationships.
    I hope you have a great new year, a great time travelling.

  • Hi Alyssa.

    We have only met a couple times but I really feel for you here. Your piece brought me to tears. So proud of you for breaking free and starting to find your happiness again. I have struggled with this too, one too many times and also feel that lately I have gotten my stride back.
    GIRL POWER!
    xo

  • Hi Alyssa,
    Just got to reading this post and I thank you for being as transparent as you have with it. It’s difficult, no that’s not an all encompassing word for your post, I’d say gruelling process to post what you have here. I commend you for your continued strength and your will to get out of an abusive relationship. Keep on, sometimes you win and other times you learn. I’m sorry you had to endure that but very much glad you were able to get away to experience happiness through travel. Cheers to making new memories.

    x

  • I’ve always asked myself why? Why me? What was wrong with me that I let this person in…thanks. I really never knew that before. I really appreciate it

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