Ending an abusive relationship seems like a no-brainer to those on the outside looking in, but when you’re the one in it, it’s much more complicated than just deciding to walk away. Although my abusive relationship drained me emotionally and physically, once I finally had the courage (and the resources) to leave, it provided me with strength I didn’t know I had before.
- I’ve learned that being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely. I was isolated while in an abusive relationship and never felt more lonely in my entire life. When I finally left my ex, I didn’t know how to truly be alone without being lonely. It took time to get used to being comfortable with my own company, but now I would rather be solo than surrounded by people who don’t treat me the way that I deserve or who take advantage of my generosity and kindness. I’m guarded when it comes to who I let have a place in my life, and that’s the way it should be.
- I trust myself and my intuition. I no longer let other people dictate whether the way I’m feeling is right or wrong. I also trust my gut feelings on people and if I get a bad vibe from someone, I won’t brush off those feelings or continue to give them second chances like I’ve done in the past.
- I use the pain and heartbreak I went through to fuel my ambition rather than bring me down. Yes, I did cry after ending my abusive relationship, and yes, it was lonely and difficult. However, instead of letting that be my excuse for slacking off, I’m using it as motivation to better myself and my life. This doesn’t mean I’m skipping over the healing process of a breakup, but it does mean that I’m letting myself heal and then pushing myself to get even better.
- I no longer believe that other people’s intentions are inherently good without proof. Call me naïve, but before I was in an abusive relationship, I generally believed that people had good intentions until they proved otherwise. After my terrible experience with my ex, my opinion on that changed. It’s not that I’m completely closed off to people or that I’m pessimistic now, it’s that I’m realistic and I know that just because I have good intentions and treat people with kindness and respect, that doesn’t mean I’ll get the same in return.
- Now, I whole-heartedly believe that you can’t save other people. I’ve always been empathetic to others, but after ending my abusive relationship, I realized that I can’t continue to try and save other people. It doesn’t work that way. You can only save yourself and love other people. Otherwise, you will end up not only disappointed but totally lost just like them.
- I realized that it’s not selfish to put myself and my needs first. I’ve always been the type of person to do anything for those who I love and care about, but my abusive relationship showed me that if you put other people first constantly, sometimes they will take advantage of you. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself and put your needs first, it’s necessary.
- I learned that I can still be kind but also be smart. Blind and unwavering kindness can be a weakness, but it can also be a strength. Being kind isn’t the problem, but I need to start by offering that grace to myself and making sure other people do too.
- I won’t let anyone show me disrespect going forward, especially someone I’m in a relationship with. Another lesson my abusive relationship taught me? If someone doesn’t respect you, then honestly, they don’t really love you. Love and respect go hand in hand. I will never forget this because it’s way too important. If someone belittles you, makes you feel crazy, hurts you in any way (either physically and emotionally), or takes advantage of you, then it’s black and white: they do not love you. Respect is just as important as love in a relationship, if not more.
- I deserve a love that’s healthy and happy all (or at least most of) the time. My abusive relationship wasn’t all bad and no good; there were a lot of beautiful, happy, and amazing moments as well, which is part of the reason I stayed in it for so long. In fact, when my relationship was good, it was great. But when it was bad, it was awful, terrible, painful—the kind of destruction I wouldn’t wish on anybody, even my worst enemy. One of the biggest ways I grew stronger after ending things is that I realized that I deserve a love that is happy, healthy and genuine all the time, not just some of the time, and any abuse is not acceptable, no matter how great the good parts of the relationship feel.