I was worth more than the tears I shed at 17 years old, having been stung by love for the first time.
I left him after a short and not-so-sweet couple of months. Why is it that months seem like years when you’re in young relationships?
He was depressed, so was I.
He introduced me to self-harm while we listened to Manic Street Preachers, and I didn’t need much persuasion. Then phone calls followed of him threatening suicide because I’d left. I felt the weight of guilt on my shoulders, and the tears fell harder still.
I didn’t know it then, but it was the beginning of my love affairs with broken men.
Broken men allowed me to uncover all the pieces I needed to put my fractured self back together. Each heart-wrenching relationship was a blessing in disguise.
I was learning through the pain.
I was hurting myself physically, which numbed my mind for a while. I would count down the hours until I was alone in my room with my cutting tool and fresh skin. The square gauze alcohol wipe was waiting patiently on top of its foil wrapper, and when I had made the cuts I needed, I’d feel the addictive sting of alcohol on my self-inflicted wound.
I was worth more than this.
If I could go back in time, I would envelop my young self in loving arms and tell her that she is beautiful inside and out. Because, no matter how many people told me I was beautiful or talented and had everything going for me—I still believed I was ugly and useless.
I would look at my reflection in the mirror and cry, wishing my face was different, that my hair was different, that I was just someone different. Someone happy.
Broken man number two told me that he loved me. Perhaps he did, in his limited capacity to love. I was the person he was cheating on his girlfriend with, but I wasn’t the first. I’m sure I wasn’t the last, either.
At one time, he handed me the sharp edge of a lighter and watched while I scratched it down my arm to relieve the emotional pain that he was causing me. One day, he left without a word and I never saw him again. That one hurt a lot. I loved him, in my misguided vision.
My coping mechanisms were dark and unhealthy—alcohol, cigarettes, cutting myself, and being reckless.
I was a mess.
I was worth more.
I sit here now in the home that I own—a happy home. A home that I wallpapered, painted, and fixed up. My car is parked in the drive, surrounded by the flowers that I planted and a magnolia tree. My life now is all about love and gratitude, but only due to my suffering then.
I am intensely grateful for all the bullsh*t that was thrown at me, because I have used it to grow my own garden full of the things I desire.
So, how did I get out of the rut I found myself in? I worked hard, I worked so f*cking hard. I took each lesson and implemented the sh*t out of it until I had grown past what it was teaching me.
Every time I wanted to cut myself, I would get up off my arse and run until I could barely breathe. I immersed myself in books about nutrition, mindfulness, psychology, and spirituality.
I wrote, painted, had counselling, and took herbs and supplements to create a healthy brain environment.
When I was depressed and laying in my bed, I would force myself to get out of it and do an hour of yoga in front of my TV.
This was only the start, but a start is better than nothing. I still had emotional lessons to learn.
In my early 20s, I allowed myself to be treated as though I was a tag-along toy. My hopes and dreams were discarded, because my needs did not matter as much as the person I was in this relationship with (this was broken man number three). I smiled, even when I was never introduced as his girlfriend, because he was ashamed to be seen out with me. I felt that crushing feeling inside, but ignored it. For years, I ignored it. I even convinced myself I didn’t want children because he put his foot down and said no. For a while, it worked. But in the quiet moments, alone with my thoughts, I had a fierce maternal instinct that needed expression with my own babies. I left this man too, when I grew beyond the boundaries he’d placed on me.
I was worth more. I was growing through the murky water toward the light.
I did not find my voice for many years, and in the meantime, I got involved with a narcissist. The attraction was perfect; I was an empath who wanted to help, heal, and nurture. He was a narcissist who was an alcoholic when I met him. He needed me, and I gave myself willingly.
Perhaps I was trying to heal fragments of my experiences with my alcoholic father, and perhaps I did on some level. My now-ex didn’t change; he hid in my shadow, feeding off me like a parasite. I could feel the emptiness growing each evening when we sat down together and had nothing to say. It was like the air was toxic; he was draining all my energy and giving nothing back—except for my child.
I wouldn’t trade any of it because I finally got my baby.
I got my life lessons.
I became wiser.
Not wise enough to avoid the emotionally unavailable man that followed (broken man number five). Again, I made excuses that I didn’t mind that we weren’t having intimacy or proper conversations. I allowed him to brush me off on more occasions than I care to recount. I let him convince me that I had the problem for wanting a connection—at least for a while.
Then I got angry.
I got explosively angry for all that I was giving and all that I was not receiving. I stood up and said, “My needs are not being met. This is not okay!” It may not have been quite those words, and it may have come out a bit more shouty and less eloquent. But there it was—my voice, that had been repressed for so many years. My voice, that had been shushed, distorted, ignored, and misunderstood by so many people, was finally saying what it meant.
I wanted to yell from the rooftops: “I am worth more! And I don’t give a damn who knows it. Tell all your friends, coworkers, and whoever will listen that I am done with all this bullsh*t!”
And here I am, in my cozy home with my two children now. I have a career in which I get to be creative and meet people, and have so many aspirations that I’m not sure if one lifetime is enough!
I write if I want.
I sing if I want.
I cry if I want.
I pick my own hours.
I laugh with my son and my daughter.
Hell, I’ve even re-homed some chickens in the back garden.
I was worth more than the limitations set by my relationships and my upbringing.
The healed scars on my arms, which are now adorned with beautiful tattoos, remind me of what it took to get here. Each painful experience was a stepping stone to my freedom.
I am worth more.
And so are you.