I Lost Myself When I Dated Him But I’ve Since Become A Completely New Woman

It was a total evolution—who I was before him, who I was with him, and who I am now. My once innocent confidence was shattered when he left but when I tried to put myself back together, the pieces didn’t fit quite the same. I’d grown, I’d changed, and it was all for the better. Looking back, I needed to find a new me anyway.

  1. The old me was far too naive. I’d thought that men always meant what they said. I was wooed by pretty words that meant nothing to guys whose intentions revolved only around sex. I guess you can say that I learned this lesson the hard way. Once I found out that his definition of “respect” meant that he wouldn’t sleep with me but he could get some from plenty of other girls behind my back, my naive days were over. Now, I take actions over words.
  2. I needed to love my body on my own. I felt like a Victoria’s Secret supermodel while I dated him, but it was an instant 180 once we broke up. All of a sudden, I needed to lose 10 pounds, cut my hair and invest in a contouring kit. It took some time for me to stop analyzing myself in the mirror, but as I let go of him, I let go of my old definition of beauty. These days, I feel prettier because I choose to take care of myself by eating healthy, sleeping well and going for regular jogs, not because I need some conceited jerk on my arm.
  3. My days of being a doormat were done. Before my ex, I was kinda quiet. I had an opinion but I wasn’t willing to argue my side of things. Once I met him, I only got quieter. Since his opinion was the only one that supposedly mattered, I learned to shut up. After him, it clicked: This guy’s an idiot, and I’m not. I’ve got a good head on my shoulders and a brain that thinks for itself. My ideas are important. Now, I have a reason to stand up for what I think is right and no guy can tell me otherwise.
  4. I had other relationships that needed attention. I didn’t understand how valuable my relationship with my mom, my sister and my friends was until after he walked out. It finally hit me that my mom and my sister have a better intuition than me when it comes to my dating life, and I rediscovered how fun it is to spend a Saturday night shopping and eating fro-yo with my girlfriends. Even though I’m still in the dating scene, I don’t spend every waking moment with my boyfriend. It’s a good thing to invest in the other people who have always poured into you. (And the right guy will encourage you to do just that.)
  5. My goals had to take some priority. I’ve always been a little ambitious, to say the least. By 12 I had created this bucket list that included grad school and big career plans. After I started dating my ex, he expected me to drop my life goals and revolve my life choices around what he wanted. All of a sudden, I was rationalizing why I should quit school and be a stay-at-home wife. Thank goodness I rediscovered my common sense after we broke up. Now, I’m halfway finished with grad school with job plans ready.
  6. I didn’t need to be afraid of being alone. Once my ex wasn’t in my life anymore, I had to figure out how to be comfortable on my own again. My morning happiness couldn’t hinge on his good morning text and my weekends couldn’t be filled with movie dates at his place. I had to literally pray my way through my mornings and force myself to go out with friends on the weekends. It took some time for me to actually enjoy my new morning and weekend routines but once I gt he hang of them, I was finally comfortable on my own.
  7. It was time to buy a plane ticket and go anywhere new. I invested every ounce of myself into my ex, so since he was a homebody, I never branched out and went anywhere, especially if he couldn’t go. I missed beach trips with my family, I missed weekend road trips with the girls and I missed being anywhere other than my home address. After things had ended between us, I booked a ten-day trip to Italy two weeks later.
  8. I wasn’t ready to birth his babies. I don’t want kids until I’m around 30. Call me selfish, but I have other things I would like to do before my life revolves around spit-up and dirty diapers. But he was ready for me to pop out a few boys by 25. Yeah, stupid me went for the idea that I was probably ready to be a decent mommy at 22, but once we broke up I knew that wasn’t gonna happen. Like ever.
  9. I learned to give trust a try again. Even while I was in a relationship, I didn’t trust him. He had lied one too many times, so once we called things off, I went from trusting everyone to trusting no one. It took a long time for me to accept my vulnerability. It even took a while for me to go out on a simple dinner date, but with time, I learned that not all men are like my ex. Thank the Good Lord.
Peyton Garland is a boy mama and Tennessee farmer who loves sharing her heart on OCD, postpartum life, and hope in the messy places.