I Changed Too Much For My Ex & Now I’m Scared It’s Too Late To Get My Old Self Back

They say the longer you stay with someone, the more you’ll start to resemble and imitate one another. That may be true, but I changed so much with my ex that I ended up being completely unrecognizable to anyone, including myself. Now I feel completely and utterly lost.

  1. I changed too quickly and it was traumatic. Some change is insidious and it happens super slowly, like lobsters in boiling water—those guys don’t have a clue. But this wasn’t always the case with me and my boyfriend. I abandoned certain beliefs because he didn’t agree with them. I gave up important spiritual and political ideas so that we could be on the same page. Instead of feeling like we were in sync, I felt totally erratic, and what made it worse is that he didn’t appreciate any of this. For him, it was a given that I’d change everything about myself to suit him.
  2. I had to spend so much time away from my family and friends and I’ll never get that time back. Usually, couples balance their time between families and friends, but our relationship was a bit different. I gave up many precious opportunities to see people I loved and valued, and instead I gave all that time to his family and friends. It’s my fault because I told him I was OK with it and that it didn’t matter. But it did, and it’s hard to live with so much regret now.
  3. I never realized how strong his influence was until I didn’t get along with my old friends anymore. In many ways, I didn’t realize what was happening until I tried to hang out with my old friends. All of a sudden, we were worlds apart. And you want to know what made it worse? Instead of just being a different person than when we last hung out, I’d managed to turn into some condescending bitch.
  4. He didn’t like my outfits so I changed (literally). I’ve never been an Instagram-worthy fashionista, but I definitely had my own personal style. It was never an issue until we moved to an uppity area where Converse sneakers and jeans apparently weren’t acceptable anymore. Instead of staying true to myself, I started dressing a bit fancier. I never felt at home in my new shoes and now, I’m not sure how to define my style. Do I even have one?
  5. I couldn’t say no to social outings so I became resentful and resigned. The truth is, I didn’t say no when I wanted to say no and it’s totally my own fault for not speaking up and setting clearer boundaries. Instead of learning to communicate with my boyfriend as I’d learned to do with my girlfriends, I always went along with him. I wanted to keep him, and while I did manage that for a while, I also kept a lot of bitterness inside.
  6. I never wanted to go back to school but I did it for him. The idea of a graduate degree has always been alluring, but since it’s a huge investment, I knew it was important to weigh all the pros and cons first. I finally did and the conclusion was that I didn’t want it. And yet, I  still did it for him, and because I got good at denying what I wanted, I started to forget what I truly wanted in life.
  7. I gave up pop culture because it wasn’t artsy enough for him. I like opera, don’t get me wrong, but I’m always down for some Taylor Swift. I had to give that up entirely, or at least only play my “silly” music when he wasn’t around. I hated being secretive but I figured, hey, relationships are all about compromise. The only problem was that I was only one compromising.
  8. Sexism wasn’t a big a deal to him so I started turning a blind eye to it. I’ve always been staunchly opposed to sexism, but when you’re surrounded by a dominantly sexist mentality where sexist remarks and behaviors are the norm, you start to shrug it off as a way to cope. I’m wondering how I can ever make it up to my fellow feminists.
  9. He denied his racist comments and I enabled himRacism is totally unacceptable, but when I realized that he didn’t even understand what racism is or understand that his comments were totally bigoted, I threw in the towel and just went along with it. I did it to keep the peace between us but it just made me angry and I’d eventually make some nasty, passive-aggressive remark. Basically, I started to become emotionally abusive and I sort of hate that about myself.
  10. He wanted our relationship to remain a secret so I lied for him and forgot how to tell the truth. No woman in her right mind would lie just to keep her guy around, but I was that woman. I protected him by lying every day for over two years. Because lying became normal for me, I found it easy to lie about lots of other things. I hated how a lie would just slip off my tongue. To this day, it’s still difficult for me to be honest, especially about my relationship.
  11. He didn’t like that I was vegan so I ate meat in front of him. Ladies, if something is valuable and important to you, hold that near and dear to your heart—nd I’m not saying that because I’ve been doing that for years. I’ve got lots of experience not doing that, and it solves nothing. Instead, it makes you feel like who you are and what you value isn’t important. It’s soul-destroying.
  12. I kept my hair long because he thought it was sexier than my pixie cut. I don’t like long hair. I like the idea of long hair, but I can’t be bothered with styling my own thick, wavy hair, so I prefer easy and sassy pixie cuts. He didn’t. You can see where this is going.
Audrey Bea uses her life-changing but difficult experiences with anorexia and depression as the catalyst and inspiration for her work. As a writer and illustrator, Audrey creates empowering content to help women love who they are, and overcome the widespread illness of fear.