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