Unveiling the naked truth hiding behind a stigma.
1. If you’re going to go to battle, know what you’re fighting against.
Anxiety is a battle between your mind and your mind, literally. And sometimes the battle can get heinous, especially when it steps outside of your mind and into your body as a panic attack. Anxiety and panic attacks do get better with time, but it is a condition that your partner lives with forever. Loving someone with anxiety can be difficult. You need to look within yourself and determine if this is something you are capable of doing. Don’t feel ashamed if you can’t, either. There are some things that people simply cannot handle.
2. Sometimes there is nothing you can do, and you have to accept this.
Once a panic attack begins, there is nothing you can do to stop it. It has to run its course. With anxiety, there are ways to stop it, but again, sometimes your partner just has a bad day and can’t reach their methods and thought-stopping processes in time. I would encourage you to be supportive, patient, and loving during these episodes. Often times, people with anxiety can recognize when their thoughts are going dark, but at the same time, they may not be able to pull themselves out of it before the point of no return. Do not become frustrated because you cannot help. You help us the most by just being there.
3. Learn everything you can about your partner’s condition.
I cannot emphasize this enough. You will have a difficult time communicating with your partner if you cannot understand what anxiety is or what it feels like. Look up people talking about it, for example. Read everything you can about the condition. And even so, some people end up in counseling themselves to try to understand how to help themselves deal with their partner’s anxiety. If you make the effort to understand, your partner will appreciate it more than you know.
4. The worst thing you can do is shame us about our anxiety.
There isn’t a more horrible feeling in the world than someone telling us to “just get over it” or to “just relax.” These statements show a blatant misunderstanding of the nature of anxiety. Believe me, if it was that simple, we would have done it already. We know our anxiety makes everyone around us feel upset or frustrated about it, but if we could help it, we would. Would you tell a depressed person to just stop being sad?
5. We know how much of a burden our anxiety is, and we do not need a reminder.
This is not to say that you can never express frustration or anger about your partner’s anxiety, but there is a way to say it nicely and in as much of a loving way as possible. If you say it in a negative way, then you’ve triggered or increased the ever-present worries. Sometimes, in the moment, things slip out or aren’t meant to be said. But these are extremely damaging to us, like getting kicked when you’re down. If you want to speak about it, be as gentle as you can. And no, tough love doesn’t feel like love to us.
6. Having a backup plan will make your partner feel a little easier when out in public.
Anxiety and panic attacks wait for no one. These things can happen in public. Anxiety attacks when it wants and where it wants. What happens if you’re on a double date, for example, and your partner suddenly has an anxiety attack? Develop plans with your partner about what to do when these situations happen, like having a signal or key word to indicate that things are heading downhill, and an escape plan to get out of there just in case. This way, we don’t have to have anxiety about our anxiety, which can lead to said anxiety, if you followed me there.
7. Do not speak about your partner’s anxiety unless explicitly given permission to do so.
Mental illness is still very much stigmatized in our culture. We are seen as crazy nuts, or people who just let their mind run wild and don’t bother to control it. One of the more interesting judgments that have been passed upon me is that I have no reason to have anxiety, since I have a roof over my head and clothes to wear. I lack nothing, what is there to worry about?
Mental illness does not discriminate. The last thing I want is for your family and friends to pass judgment or alter their opinion of me because you told them about my anxiety, the exception being when it’s highly visible, such as a panic attack.
8. Sometimes you will be the trigger. Do not take this personally.
No, our anxiety will not magically skip over you just because we are dating you. If anything, being in a relationship adds to the anxiety. There are constant questions about how to reply to your text message asking what we are doing, what happens if we upset you, what does our future look like, and so on. But do not blame yourself in these situations. Do not feel guilty about any anxiety or panic attacks that stem from you. Anxiety is something we have to live with and deal with, in all aspects of our life.
9. Managing anxiety takes time and practice. Patience is greatly appreciated.
While I cannot speak for everyone, I regularly attend therapy where I talk about my most recent anxious moments and learn about cognitive behavioral therapy, a set of techniques used to manage negative thought processes, the very foundation of anxiety itself. Therapy is difficult and challenging, because you have to repeatedly wrestle with your anxiety to learn how to win. We get a lot of homework from our counselors as well. It is hard to cope with failure because perfectionism is in our blood. Be supportive of your partner both when they progress and regress. All battles are easier when you can face them with a partner.
10. Never forget that we love you.
Sometimes anxiety can evolve into rage or depression. It’s a shape-shifter; it takes on a lot of different forms. But in the midst of a bad episode or a difficult time, do not forget that we love you, we care about you, and we appreciate you more than you know. We appreciate you for standing by us when we are at our worst. Our supporters motivate us to keep growing and changing when things seem impossible. And having someone there who genuinely is interested in your well-being and happiness makes the whole “managing” thing easier. Thank you for everything that you do. We love you
I’m one that society would consider an average twenty-something girl. Fortunately for me, my parents are still happily married, I have two incredible older siblings whom I aspire to make proud one day, I have a great group of friends, and a wonderful boyfriend who shows me nothing but respect. I have the support and financial ability (thanks to my parents) to attend college and earn a degree in a major that I love. Although I am beyond thankful for everything I have in my life, I have slowly started to become numb to it all, and not because I want to be.
I have always had an unbelievably hard time with school and I think it bloomed from when I started to get tutored in 4th grade. Growing up I was lucky enough and still am, to have the most incredible older brother and sister to look up to. In my eyes, they always seemed to have the perfect life. Great friends, close with our parents, successful in school and had bright futures in front of them. I wanted all of that but always seemed to fall short. At family dinners they would continuously talk about how they were getting A’s on homework, projects, and tests. I was always happy when I got at least a C or B in school and I always had to work harder to achieve just those grades. I attended a well-known private catholic high school, where my brother went which was a big factor in why I wanted to go there. They also had smaller class sizes and shorter class periods compared to the public school system in my town. Fast forward a few years to when I was 17 years old and at the end of my junior year of high school. It’s the year that usually puts the most pressure on students because they start to apply for colleges and get into their “dream school.” In the middle of all this future planning, a former teacher of mine approached my mom (who worked at the high school and they were friends) and expressed her concerns about how I struggle in the classroom and how it could have a deeper meaning to it. It wasn’t lost on my mom that there was something going on so a few days later, after discussing the possibilities, I was tested and diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. At first it was embarrassing to admit to because as a teenager the last thing you want to admit to is that you have a “disorder”; but eventually it was a huge relief to be able to put a name to it and learn how to maintain it.
Now it’s the summer before senior year. I met a boy, fell for boy, and then had my whole life slowly come crashing down. My “high school love” story isn’t even close to the stereotypical one that people usually experience. It started out completely normal, depending on what you’re definition of normal is. We talked about everything, hung out whenever possible because we’d miss each other if we weren’t with one another, became best friends, and eventually we fell in love. The cute texts, phone calls, and notes started to become more controlling and disrespectful. The cute pet names started to become more offensive and cruel. The trust and honesty started to disappear and turn into lies and betrayal. The arguments and petty fights started to become threatening. I started to lose relationships with those closest to me, including my family and best friends. But he loved me… So I forgave him. I was in the beginning stages of a toxic and unhealthy relationship and no one could get me out, no matter how hard they tried. The emotional and mental abuse could only do so much until it eventually turned into physical abuse. It started with a few light shoves here and there then escalated to pushing and throwing against walls and furniture. It started with a few light taps on my arm and then escalated to stinging slaps across my face. It started with a loose grip on my arm and then escalated into a strong hold that left bruises. It started with a little swat to the side or back of my head and then escalated to punches to the side or back of my head. Trying to get out seemed nearly impossible. When I tried, I’d get stalked or get dangerous threats not only towards me but towards my family and those I loved. No one could get me out of it, no matter how hard, difficult, and painful it was for those that wanted to help me. Those that cared and loved me had to protect themselves and through the constant fights, arguments, hurtful lies, sneaking around, and even getting kicked out of my own home, nothing seemed to open my eyes to see how unhealthy, toxic, and dangerous my life had become. I was brainwashed and completely incapable of freeing myself. This continued to go on for a little over 2 years.
Move in weekend my sophomore year of college. I realized that enough was enough. I tried ending the relationship with him a few weeks before coming back to school but it wasn’t enough. He showed up not only on campus, but was in my dorm room waiting for me when I got back from a friends. After screaming at me, throwing me, slapping me, and shaking me, I finally got a word in and threatened to call the cops if he didn’t leave. He left but called me and forced me to come down to his car or else he’d “make my life a living hell.” He also threatened my family which was the only reason I went down to him. He threw me into the car and drove around screaming at me while hitting me over and over again. He told me he had a gun and told me that I had to watch him kill himself since he “no longer had me.” I eventually got out of the car and back to my dorm where I called my best friend and told her everything. I was so afraid and nervous to tell my family because of how much pain I’ve already caused them. A week later, he showed up where I was babysitting. One of my friends was thankfully with me and when she left she called my parents and told them everything from beginning to end. When I got home I could see how much pain my mom and dad were in. After hours of tears, hugs, and “I’m sorry’s”, we went to bed and it was a new day. I called the police the next day and filed an order of protection. He was served but having a restraining order didn’t stop him from trying to contact me and see me. He broke it more than once. Seeing him in court made me want to crawl into a hole and never come out. I was so embarrassed and hated myself for putting those I loved and cared for in this situation. The order was in place for 2 years and when it was up, I extended it for another year. In October, it’ll be 4 years since I filed for the order.
Now I’m here. A 22 year old, 5th year college student with hopes of becoming a women’s advocate and being a voice for those who need help finding their own. I’ve been going to therapy for almost 6 years. I started going while I was in the middle of my very toxic, unhealthy relationship. I continued to go when I thankfully got out of that relationship, and I continue to go today so I can rebuild and fix the relationships I have damaged and broken due to my past. So I’ve been diagnosed with A.D.D., was in an abusive relationship, and now I’m going towards my future. You’d think nothing else could possibly bring me down, right? Wrong. Things were only getting started for me. Barely getting by in school quickly caught up to me in college. I’ve switched my major 3 times, had to retake multiple classes, and have even had to fight my way back into the university. I thought getting told I had A.D.D. was bad enough but it was nothing compared to what I have recently had to deal with.
There are so many people out there that are going through even harder times than I am and that makes me feel like I’m constantly throwing a pity party for myself. Their problems are tangible compared to mine with names such as “cancer”, “terminal illness”, “bankruptcy”, or “homeless.” In today’s society we overlook how deep health issues can really be. There’s a stigma that issues including the mental state of someone’s wellbeing aren’t a priority, that it’s almost a sense of imagination and it’s something that you should just be able to “get over.” But why is it that every other organ in our body’s can get sick but not the brain? Why is it that one of the most interesting, and important organs we have isn’t talked about and taken seriously? For almost 6 years I have been growing more and more guilty with the lack of satisfaction towards the precious gift of life. I’ve been struck by the stigma which has been holding me back from admitting and coming forward about my emotional state. Sure, I was aware of what mental illness was but I was ignorant, shameful, embarrassed, and down right scared to dig deeper into the topic. I continued to tell myself that it was a phase and that I just need to snap out of it. I eventually convinced myself that I had no reason to feel this way, no one would understand, no one would listen or take me serious, and that I’d be judged for even thinking this way. I continued to keep silent and pretend that everything was fine. It was like I was playing two different roles in my life and it eventually took a toll on me and changed my life forever. My therapist, along with myself, and even my parents, always kind of had a gut feeling about my mental health but my denial kept me from facing it. Almost 8 months ago I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. I completely broke down and couldn’t wrap my head around the thought that I yet again, had something wrong with me. I can’t help but think, “why me? “Why does everything have to happen to me?” “What have I done to deserve this constant pain?” Anxiety alone is when you care too much about everything. Depression alone is when you can’t care about anything at all. Having both is when you are at a complete loss with yourself. You’re at a constant battle with yourself about your hidden feelings, emotions, and growing self-hatred and complete and utter disgust with yourself. You’re in a battle with a demon that is impossible to win on your own. Adding this obstacle on top of all the other problems I’ve put my family through was and still is, a huge burden I carry on my shoulders. I’ve already felt like a complete failure and disappointment to my family and this only added fuel to the fire. I’ve been lucky enough to have the support and love from my family during this time and although it’s going to take some time, I am lucky enough to have another chance at rebuilding my relationships with each one of them. Thankfully, the thought of hurting myself has never ever crossed my mind. Depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness isn’t a choice. It’s not something you can just “get over” and unfortunately it has taken it to get this bad for me to realize that. It takes 6 months to a year for people to truly feel the difference that medicine and therapy do to control the illness and I am in the hardest stages of it. I have not only the support of my family, but also my closest friends, my boyfriend, and therapist. It’s all a learning process and something I need to learn how to maintain and handle. I’m lucky enough to have the resources to do so and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t take that for granted.
Always struggling with school and I discovered I have A.D.D. Going through an abusive relationship has made me discover my worth and what I deserve. Constantly battling with my own feelings and emotions led me to discover that I have general anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. Although it’s taken me going through hell, it’s a relief to put a name to the demons that I’ve been wrestling with for so many years and all of this is a huge part of my story, but in no way does it define who I am.
Everyone comes into your life for a reason; whether it’s as a blessing or as a lesson. It’s hard to believe that sometimes people can turn out to be both but it’s even harder to believe that without them we wouldn’t be who we are today, whether we like it or not.
It started out just like any other “high school love story”. Girl meets boy, girl falls for boy, girl gets her heartbroken. Sounds pretty predicable, right? Wrong. On the outside you could hear that and guess what happens from the beginning to the end but on the inside, it’s a completely different story that never got told.
My friends were my whole world in high school. They were always my top priority, even before my education and family. I spent as much time as possible with them because at the time, I thought that was all life was about. That all changed when I met Paul in late May of 2008. We went to different high schools but had a lot of mutual friends which was how we met. We clicked instantly and from that moment on I was hooked. We started talking and hanging out 24/7 and a few months later we started to officially date. I had a few crushes and “things” before Paul but this was my first real boyfriend and it was the first time I felt like I met the love of my life. He was the life of the party, everyone loved him and he had some pretty fun friends. A few months into my senior year, I slowly started to distance myself from my close group of friends at school and quickly started to make Paul my everything. I stopped putting my friends first, I stopped doing things I enjoyed, I stopped trying to make my last year of high school the best yet because I made Paul the center of it all. He constantly told me how much I meant to him, how much he liked me, how perfect I was, and how he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He always wanted to be with me, always wanted to be talking, always wanted to know where I was and who I was with. I thought that was what love was and in my eyes I thought I had hit the jackpot with finding “the one”. Eventually, I completely cut everyone and everything else I found important and loved out of my life because I had all I needed and wanted with Paul. My close friendships started to become hard work to keep because they weren’t my top priority anymore. I started to lie, sneak around, and became very angry and short tempered around my family because they didn’t accept my relationship or think Paul was good for me… If only I had listened to them. Exactly one year after I met Paul, he told me he loved me. I was an innocent girl who had my whole life ahead of me but gave every last bit of myself to the first boy who used the “L” word. When I say I gave everything to him, I mean everything… I lost my virginity to him the summer after high school because I thought we would be together forever. It was then that everything started to really come crashing down. I was trying my absolute hardest to balance Paul, my friends, and my family because I had 3 months before I left to start a whole new chapter of my life. I was constantly fighting with my family and friends which made me believe that Paul was the only one that truly cared about me. Quickly into summer I started to become a piece of property to Paul instead of a human being. He never let me go anywhere without knowing who I was with, who was going to be there, where I was going, and how long I was going to be there. He would always tell me that it was because he cared about me and didn’t want anything bad to happen to me, so I believed him. My friends and family could see how it was affecting me and would tell me their thoughts but I would ignore it because we “loved” each other. Little did I know that it would only escalate from there. If I wasn’t answering his calls or texts within a timely manor, he’d call me every name in the book, assume that I was with another guy, tell me how worthless I was, how ugly I was, how no one would ever want me, that he hated me, that he was using me, was sleeping with other girls, and that he was done with me. Although every time this happened I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I believed everything he was saying to me. I would apologize for doing nothing wrong or for being busy. It was a few weeks before I left to go to college that the mental and emotional abuse turned physical. We were watching a movie at his house when I got up to go to the bathroom and I received a text from a guy friend of mine and Paul saw it. Without even reading it, he threw me on the couch the second I walked out of the bathroom. Within seconds after it happened he apologized and told me he just didn’t want me to leave him. I forgave him because of course, he didn’t mean it… He loved me. Fast forward a few months into my first year of college when I stopped going to class, stopped eating, stopped sleeping, stopped talking to everyone but Paul, and started crying almost every day and every night because of what Paul would say and do to me. I lost all communication and chance at a relationship with everyone in my family because they gave up on me. They didn’t know what else to do besides cut me out of their lives, as hard as it was, so I could realize what was happening. They couldn’t fix it for me, they couldn’t make it stop or go away, even though it killed them that they couldn’t help me. Winter break rolls around and I was asked to leave my house because I had picked Paul over everyone and everything else. I literally had to pack up my things and find someone to pick me up and let me stay with them. That same night I was extremely exhausted and upset that I just wanted to sleep but Paul wanted sex. I wasn’t in the mood, nor did I have the energy to do so. He slapped me and told me I was nothing to him. After many days of tears and long phone calls, I was asked to come home. My mom still didn’t want anything to do with me when I came home, so my dad was the “middle man” for us and had to make a common ground for us. A few nights later, I went to Paul’s to hang out with him and a few of his friends. As the night went on everyone was drinking and I had to get home or else I’d miss my curfew. Paul refused to help me find a ride because he was mad that I wasn’t sleeping over. He pushed me up against the wall and told me to walk home. Keep in mind, it was winter out. I called my dad, who was sleeping and then I called my brother, who was out downtown. My last resort was my aunt and uncle who thankfully picked me up. The next day, my dad didn’t even remember me calling me and felt absolutely horrible about it. That morning, my mom saw some of the texts that Paul had sent me and they made her sick to her stomach. She brought me to a women’s shelter the next day to try to get me to open my eyes at what was happening. I was too brainwashed by Paul’s “love” that I didn’t care what anyone had to say. I was in denial that I refused to believe that I was in an unhealthy and abusive relationship. I was off to second semester of my first year of college. I could count on one hand how many friends I still had from high school when I used to not even be able to count how many I had. I told my friends and family that I was done with Paul but like usual I would lie and sneak around so I could be with him but still tell everyone else what they wanted to hear. And now we’re at the summer after my first year of college. I made it through, barely. I had C’s, D’s, and even F’s as a freshman in college and I didn’t care whatsoever. A few weeks into summer I found out Paul had cheated on me multiple times. When I confronted him, he said it was my fault and that I made him do it… I believed him. One night while I was hanging out with him and a few friends, he told me they were going to a party and that it was best that I didn’t come. We started screaming at each other and he went to grab my arm, and punched me in the ribs. At that time I thought, “okay that’s it. I don’t deserve this”. But…. He apologized and said he loved me; so I forgave him. A few weeks before I was about to go back to school my parents were out of town and I had people over. We were all hanging out, drinking, and having a good time. I was tired so I wanted to go to sleep but Paul wanted to have more people over. When I refused he told me he was leaving and going to be with another girl. I didn’t even want to deal with it so I ignored it, which didn’t make him happy. He got on top of me, tried forcing me to have sex with him, and when I wouldn’t he threw me against the wall and slapped me. My friends were in the other room sleeping and when I ran out to the, Paul threatened to call the cops on me for underage drinking. I had the sudden urge to end things with him and be done for good. I couldn’t handle the way things were between my family and how I was losing all my friends. I told my family and friends that this was it, that I was done and they supported me. Without much explanation, I ended things with Paul. The first weekend back at school, word got around to him that I was already seeing a new guy, which I was not. My phone had died that night and I ended up passing out in a friends dorm. The next morning I arrived back to my dorm to see Paul sitting at my desk. I truly thought I was seeing things or having a nightmare. I was asking how he got in and how my phone had died so I did not have anyway of hearing from him. He called me yet again, every name he could think of. He pushed me onto the futon and slapped me. He then grabbed me and threw me against the bedposts which keep in mind, are metal. I had a few bruises and cuts on my arms and head. While balling my eyes out, I threatened to call the cops on him if he did not leave. Eventually he left. I couldn’t even speak I was in such shock and pain. I charged my phone and he was calling me. He told me if I did not come to his car he would make my life a living hell…. Which apparently wasn’t already enough hell for his liking. I went down to his car, he forced me to get in, and drove to an abandoned parking lot. He told me to take my clothes off and prove to him that I didn’t have sex with another guy. How this would prove that, I did not know but I did not sleep with anyone else, which really wasn’t any of his concern. He pulled my pants off of me and punched me in the stomach. He put the car in drive and told me he had a gun in the trunk and I had to watch him kill himself. I wanted to escape right then and there but had nowhere to go. He pulled over and thankfully a house was in my view. I got out of the car and started running for the house. He got scared and drove off. I ended up walking back and had time to think. That was it. That was the last straw. It was in that moment that I came to realize that I was worth so much more and that that wasn’t and isn’t love. I have a huge heart and deserve to give it to someone who appreciates it and cares for it. You don’t hurt the people you love. I called my best friend who has never left my side and told her what had happened. I wasn’t about to tell my parents or anyone else because of how embarrassed I was and because of the fact that they are always right. Paul would call and text me at least 10 times a day and for the first time I truly did not care or feel bad about not responding; no matter how harsh the things were he was saying to me. A week or so later I went home for the weekend and was babysitting for a good family friend of mine. I asked my friend Jordan to come over and hang out for a bit and decided to tell her the latest with Paul. Thank God she was there because a couple hours later Paul showed up at the house. He dropped off a photo album of us and said he wanted to talk. I brought the kids upstairs and Jordan told him to leave. I was so shaken up and worried about what else he would do if he would show up where I am babysitting. Jordan left and ended up calling my parents and told them everything…. Including every scary detail that I never wanted them to know about. When I got home, my parents were up and I could tell my mom had been crying. I kind of had a gut feeling that I knew she knew something and I was right. She hugged me and was crying while telling me she was sorry for having to see me go through this much pain and suffering. We sat downstairs and I broke down. I told her everything from beginning to end and even though it killed me inside to see her so upset, I knew she had nothing but love for me no matter what. My dad almost threw through the roof when he heard what Paul had done to me. I could tell my dad was holding back tears and that completely crushed me to see. The next morning I made the brave decision, with the support of my parents and 4 best friends that never left my side through this whole thing, to call the cops and get a restraining order. I then told my brother and sister everything as well and couldn’t stop apologizing to everyone for what I had put them through. The weeks leading up to court were unbearable. I received countless phone calls and voicemails from a blocked number, which ended up being Paul. He would either threaten me or beg me to take him back and apologize. I don’t know what it was but I am so thankful for the moment that the light in my mind clicked on telling me that I had had enough of his abuse. Court came around and my parents and sister were there to support me. My brother was unable to come because my dad was nervous he would go after Paul and the consequences for that aren’t the greatest. Paul had a restraining order put on him for 2 years. During those 2 years he broke it multiple times by trying to contact me. I turned him in and didn’t let him get to me anymore. After 2 years we were to return to court and I could ask for an extension or take the order off. With his history of breaking the order, I extended it for another year. Nothing is more important to me now than my safety.
I could go on and on about more things that had happened between me and Paul but it was all a learning experience for me. He was a blessing because I was able to learn how to care and love someone, even if they don’t show me the same back. I learned how to be strong for myself and take steps in becoming brave. I learned who was a true friend and who wasn’t. I learned that nothing will ever break the love that my family has for me. I learned that without the support and unconditional love from my family that I wouldn’t have made it through or be as close as I am to them today. I am who I am today because as hard as it has been and will continue to be, I’ve become a strong, unbreakable girl. I know what I deserve, what is right and what is wrong, and what is true when it comes to love. I can take this part of my life and be a voice for those who are stuck in the same cycle as I once was. At the time it seems like that person is and always will be your whole entire world but trust me, there’s so much more out there that you deserve to have. I get to try all over again with love and get it right this time and I’m going to take that chance because I believe that it’s out there. If I can go through hell, I can get to my heaven.
It’s amazing how much of an impact one person can have on you. Whether it’s a friendly stranger passing by giving you a warm smile, a family member who reminds you of how much you’re loved, a friend who calls to check in while you’re feeling down, or a significant other who shows you the true meaning of happiness when you thought you’d never find it.
To sum up my past, I’ve gone through hell and back. I’ve gone through more than anyone should ever have to face at such a vulnerable age. Sure, it’s my past and it’s a part of my story but I always got myself to believe that it would shape who I am in the present and in the future. I’ve had my fair share of shitty, unhealthy relationships that have ended in heartbreak and left me to believe that I wasn’t worth anything more and I’ve finally learned that that was far from the truth. I have slowly started to realize that I wouldn’t be so scared of the past repeating itself if I’ve really believed that I’ve learned from it. I was so lost and confused on what “normal” meant in a relationship that knowing what I deserved was pointless because I was never patient enough to wait on it and I was far from disciplined to work for it. I was more interested in finding a “bad boy” that was a challenge or one that I could “fix” because that’s all I knew; that’s all I ever went for.
I hate change. It scares the crap out of me because it means that everything I’ve been trying to keep the same is going to be different and I’ll have to adapt to something new all over again. But everything I’ve been trying to keep the same isn’t healthy, it’s just comfortable and the same old thing. I like when things are concrete, something that I can look at or point at and know exactly what it is. I think that after all the heartbreak I’ve been through and all the change it has done is why I struggle with love. I’m so used to the same old games because of my fear of change that I’m missing out on my chance at something wonderful. I constantly fight with myself about actually scared of the changes or if I’ve just been hurt to the point where I doubt my right to love and happiness. Avoiding the pain of heartbreak won’t teach me how to grow. I’m not one to throw my heart out there for just anything or anyone but it’s miserable and unbelievably lonely having the constant thought that everybody wants to hurt me.
It took some of the worst couple of years, experiences, and relationships for me to realize that living by my hurt instead of my heart was the perfect setup for unhappiness and disappointment. Boundaries don’t keep people out; they fence you in. I could continue to build them up or I could take a chance and try a new approach at seeing what the view on the other side was like; which is exactly what I did.
I knew that change wasn’t going to be easy, and I knew knocking my boundaries down wasn’t going to be either but the desire for things to be easy is the main reason people rarely get anything worth keeping. To find someone who genuinely cares for you and values you is just so rare and I couldn’t be more grateful for the hell I had to go through to find that. He was nothing more to me than the “typical annoying college guy who thinks he’s all that.” He was cocky, sarcastic, rude, stubborn, and a player. He didn’t fit my typical bad boy persona type, which is exactly why I never gave him the time of day; until I changed how I viewed my desire for love. He knew how to make me laugh and smile, even if it was because a sarcastic comment or rude joke and I secretly liked it. Love is the farthest thing from practical and I never would have expected to be paired with him. Throughout the years of growing a friendship with him I started to see myself wanting him more and more. Eventually we became something more than friends. It was that type of feeling where you feel like you could throw up butterflies because he makes you so excited. Of course I always thought it was too good to be true, and I was sadly proven right. I was completely blindsided by him hurting me and playing me the way he did. I thought that he was the one to prove to me that change is good. I slowly started to fall back into my old ways and then realized that nothing good ever comes from that. The thing is, is that we complain about liars but then hide from the truth when it challenges us. We complain about loyalty but aren’t willing to open up and show people something worth being loyal to. It’s amazing what time can do, even to the strongest of feelings because we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the beginning of endless obstacles for us. The truth is, none of the obstacles matter in the long run. What matters is how you overcome the obstacles that define your love. Not everyone thinks the way you think or even feels the way you feel. It’s learning how to adapt to the other persons ways that matters. No one is perfect, no relationship is perfect. Everyone has a past and everyone has a story that makes them who they are today. I was falling harder and harder for him and there was no way around that. Even through the hurt I knew that it was different with him. It was normal, he was a nice guy, and it was exactly what I’ve been searching for. I have never met someone who can truly put the kind of genuine smile on my face like he can. He has one of the most patient and kindest hearts I’ve ever been able to care for. I was so used to hiding all the parts of me that were and still are broken, out of fear that I was not worthy or deserving of true happiness. I can be one of the most stubborn and unbelievably difficult that it’s hard for people to stick by my side but I truly believe that I’ve been given an angel that gives me the chance to grow and change, for the better. I believe that he’s been put in front of me during the most fragile part of my life to show me what the view is like on the other side of my boundaries. He knows exactly how to push my buttons and get under my skin but without him and his want to make me a better person, I wouldn’t have the confidence and self worth that I have today. I’ve been able to see what it’s like to get what you deserve after the long wait and let me tell you, it’s pretty amazing. I still struggle to truly let my walls down around him but the more I tell myself that he’s one of the good ones, the easier it is for me to trust him. He inspires me every day to be a better person and is there for me when I need that extra push. I truly do not know where or what I would be without him by my side. He’s my best friend and one of the few people that I can say has my heart. When I count my blessings, I make sure to count him twice because it takes a strong man to handle a broken woman.