I lost my voice.
I dated a man who took away my ability to trust my truth.
Situations would occur.
Words would be said.
And when I would make the courageous choice to revisit the memory, he would tell me I was wrong.
Retelling the story the way he remembered it.
Causing me to question my intelligent brain and in-tune heart.
I loved this man.
I talked about a future with him.
And when friends or family would recall emotional pain, I would silence them with words that spoke to how great he was.
I wanted them to hold me while I cried, yet support the love.
Asking them to be a passenger on a roller coaster they didn’t buy a ticket for.
There were countless moments my spirit whispered:
This isn’t love.
You are more.
I cried more tears for this man than I knew my tear ducts held.
Putting ice packs on my eyes to keep the swelling at bay was a regular evening activity.
I clung so tightly to the high-and-low game I began to dance to the toxic rhythm.
Making it my ringtone.
I could tell you a million stories.
I could walk you through every time his words broke me down—not just to tears, but uncontrollable sobs.
The kind that make you curl in a ball, shivering from your fingertips to your tiptoes.
Side by side with the man you love, yet feeling more alone than your soul ever knew it could.
Waiting for the next high.
That was his pattern—
Making me emotionally dependent on the toxicity that was disguised as love.
If you are reading this and have never had a toxic lover, you will ask yourself why?
Why I stayed,
How I didn’t see it,
You may even call me weak.
I know I have.
If you’ve ridden the roller coaster, you know it doesn’t feel like a choice.
You know there is nothing scarier than feeling like you can’t trust your own mind.
You know on any given day your heart is playing tug-of-war with the highs and the lows, trying to decide if maybe this really is love.
Emotional abuse is no stranger to strong women.
In fact, I think we are drawn to the challenge.
I know I was.
So often, we tell about painful periods of our life from the winners circle.
The theme of I was there, but now I’m here.
Never living in it and giving the pain the power to speak.
I don’t want to do that.
I want you to know I’m still healing.
It’s vulnerable, raw, heartbreaking, and filled with three steps forward, five steps back.
My lips, that used to only know how to speak straight doses of truth, are still trying to connect back to their tune.
My heart, that used to be free of guardrails, is still trying to open again.
My soul, that used to walk in the world with confidence and purpose, is still trying to understand why I gave my power away.
My spirit reminds me that all of the above doesn’t make me (or you) any less than we were before this love.
If you are in it, if you left it, if you seesaw back and forth, you are nothing less.
One more time, for my people in the back, you are nothing less.
Your heart loves so deeply that most can’t even find the bottom.
I know because mine does, too.
It takes one to know one.
It was gifted the ability to see what could be instead of what is.
It’s a gift.
To see beauty in a world that is surrounded with brokenness.
To love even the unworthy.
To hope amidst the pain.
You are not weak.
But your heart is meant to be held by someone who sees just how far your love can stretch, yet never tests the limits.
Someone who knows that your strength rivals that of an MMA fighter, but lets you rest into them anyway.
Someone who loves your fire, holds your spirit, ignites your heart, and protects your soul.
Staying in a love that doesn’t hold us is never a matter of whether we are weak or strong.
It’s a question of why we search for the answers in the heart of another.
Why we hold another heart’s desires tighter than our own.
Why we move further and further away from who we are to be who they need.
When did you stop hearing your own heart?
Step away from any place that prevents you from hearing the answer.