Before I met my now ex-fiance, I was thriving. I had a killer career, a fulfilling side hustle, and I was truly in a place of complete contentment. I knew I didn’t need a guy, but when one who seemed to be my own Prince Charming walked into my life and swept me off my feet, I got a little bit too carried away. I never intended to stray so far from myself but unfortunately, I lost the woman I was and it nearly destroyed me.
I moved too quickly into the happily ever after I was dreaming of. Hindsight truly is 20/20 and looking back, I realize that I wanted the fairytale more than I actually wanted to stay true to who I was. I fell deep into a lusty haze with him and together we were rushing towards the finish line. It wasn’t about who we were together, it was more about completing the final piece to a puzzle.
I made too many sacrifices early on to make him happy. Before we got together, I had the single girl thing down to an art. I was taking care of myself like nobody’s business and I was genuinely as happy as can be. When I fell for him, I threw away all my own needs and desires; all I cared about was making him happy. I happily went along with all of his suggestions and accepted when he regularly shot all of mine down. It was all about him. I stopped giving a crap about what I wanted because making his day was my top priority.
I lived to please and cater to him. I realize now that a huge part of losing myself was waking up daily and asking myself how I could make his day wonderful instead of my own. At first, the playing field was even and he was doing those cute and thoughtful things for me too, like making my morning smoothie or packing my lunch and leaving a cute love note in it. But even after the novelty wore off for him and he got lazy, I kept going strong with my gestures. If he was out of something, I made sure to pick it up for him. If he mentioned he wanted something, I got it for him. If he told me he was craving something, I made it for him. I never went a day without wanting to cater to him even long after he stopped doing the same for me.
I got trapped in the love bubble. I truly thought he loved me as deeply as I loved him. We moved in together after only a few months and even picked out my engagement ring before that. I guess I should have known better than to believe the highs of the honeymoon period. Once his effort decreased and he became complacent with me, I continued to work overtime because I never stopped feeling so deeply in love with him. It’s actually pretty hard for me to think about because I realize now that I was only humiliating myself by doting on a guy who’d stopped showing me the respect I deserved.
I made all the compromises. It was always his way or no way. He was pretty stubbornly set in his ways and sadly, I enabled this pattern by going along with it instead of calling him out and insisting that he meet me halfway. When I did start to voice my wants and needs later on in the relationship, he dismissed them and wrote them off as irrelevant.
I became the 1950s housewife I swore I’d never be because he wanted me to play that role. It was like he’d tell me to jump and I’d ask, “How high?” When he mentioned he thinks women should do the laundry, I took over all responsibility and made sure to wash and put his things away weekly. If I wasn’t on top of my so-called womanly duties, he made negative comments and I would allow it to make me feel like crap and like I wasn’t good enough. Now I see that he was just seriously unappreciative of the amazing woman I was to him.
I let him convince me that I was the problem. When I finally realized what was happening, I piped up and voiced my concerns, only for him to label me as a nag. I tried so many times to have thoughtful and mature conversations about how his treatment of me affected me but he would only stonewall me or make me seem like the crazy one. I allowed this pattern to continue for far too long. I convinced myself that no relationship was perfect and perhaps I was asking for too much when I wanted him to consider my feelings and treat me like the prize he once used to. What a mistake.
I lost the confidence in myself that I’d worked so hard to build. I went from being this strong, confident, badass woman to a doormat with zero sense of self. I forgot to put myself first in my life and instead became a willing prisoner to a toxic relationship. Honestly, can I really blame him for losing respect for me when I was the one who showed that I lost respect for myself in the first place? I’d worked my butt off to be as confident and happy as I was the day I met him and I threw it all away for the prospect of a white picket fence.
I stopped doing the things that I loved. I used to be the type that went to the gym or a hike after work. I wrote articles to inspire women as a passionate side gig and go out for drinks and brunches with my friends on the weekends. Once I fell madly in love with him and our life together, I abandoned my own interests in favor of coming home and putting a hot meal on the table for him. Instead of going to the gym, I would run errands to make sure he had enough food for his work lunches or that laundry was done in time for him to have fresh shirts for work the next day. To put it simply, I loved him more than I loved myself.
I got my heart completely shattered but I survived. Although my heart ended up in pieces, I learned a powerful lesson about myself. I learned that no matter how intense love feels, it’s never worth abandoning yourself. Even though I gave up myself to keep a man happy, I survived the fire and am wiser for it. I may have journeyed to hell and back learning this lesson, but the most important thing is that I survived.
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