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Our dear writers share personal stories because they’re what they know best, and what we can learn from, best. They are personal—if you have another perspective, you can contact us here or write your perspective here. ~ ed.
Think about what it means to wake up every day holding your breath.
When you are living under the overbearing shadow of a toxic and controlling relationship, that’s what happens.
You do not breathe.
You live like a caged animal—waiting for something to happen to you, alert for it, constantly expecting to pay for your mistakes. Suffering becomes a part of your identity.
Pain becomes an entity that you start to connect with, and that you can’t live without.
Your partner becomes your means to form an identity and your only reality. If your partner insults you, it is because you deserve it. You believe everything your partner says to you, and you tend to isolate yourself, or even worse, pretend that you are living your best life—this is your partner’s biggest weapon.
You are trapped in a cycle that is extremely hard to break because it is surrounded by silence and shame.
This is who I used to be—scared, lost, controlled, and in a toxic relationship. I didn’t know what it meant to be loved or to love myself. I hadn’t had a healthy relationship so I kept moving from one partner to the next—never thinking that I was in a toxic enough one to have the right to complain about it.
It took me a long time to recover and find the strength to smile again. The strength to simply want to get out of bed in the morning.
From the outside, it looked like I had a picture-perfect life, but I was carrying a heavy weight of endless emptiness on the inside.
I needed to stop believing him every time he was told me that I was wrong, emotional, weak, and simply not worthy of being loved.
For a long time, I refused to admit that I was living in a nightmare. I denied my circumstances. I thought it was all my fault, and that I needed to become better: stronger, younger, thinner, smarter, financially independent.
Until one day, I realized that something needed to change—or soon, I would be dead. Dead from drowning in the misery and sorrow of a toxic relationship. I was living a lie.
I survived the narcissistic compulsive behavior of my ex, but a part of my soul died with him. And, it needed to die. It is harsh to say, but I needed to die to be able to love again. And, for that, I will be forever grateful to him.
He killed me, figuratively. He crushed my soul. And slowly, from the ashes of a life buried in tears, I became whole again.
My body—the same body he refused to touch for years, something I used to perceive as an enemy—became my temple, my point zero, the instrument that played the melody of my soul.
My pain became a compassionate teacher, and I understood that my broken heart was not a source of shame, but instead, the core of my strength.
I am not weak. I never was. I never will be, and I never needed to be saved. I saved myself.
I saved myself by finally understanding that I am in control.
The way we live our life has a lot to do with how we react to failure—when everything hurts, when we have to deal with our limitations, and when we are left with nothing but fear.
Acceptance. Patience. Compassion. Breathing. Trying. Believing in ourselves. These are the things that lead us through anything in life.
These are the things that bring us back home—to ourselves.