Listening to yourself
Description of Experience:
My relationship with my ex-boyfriend lasted a total of 6 years, and we lived together for 5 years. He was very different from me so that's what attracted me to him. They say opposites attract, but I think that it doesn’t work in the long run. Looking back, I feel I rushed into the relationship. All the red flags were there at the beginning, but I was, “in love,” and I turned a blind eye. I learned the hard way to be a good observer. We had a child, and I thought that after the birth of our son he would change his view of life and change his ways, but I was wrong.
Throughout the relationship we had poor communication and neither one of us was willing to compromise. There was a lot of frustration and tension between us. I suffered a lot of verbal/emotional abuse. My self- esteem was very low, I felt horrible and I looked the part too. I felt that I couldn’t express myself out of fear of what remark I would have to hear. I prayed to God to give me the courage to stand up for myself and leave so our son didn’t have to grow up in that kind of environment.
After my father passed away, that made me reflect on my own life. I was unhappy, jobless, a college dropout and I wanted positive change. Life is too short; I wanted to be happy again. I took control of my life and made a brave decision to leave. When I left it felt like a load was lifted off my chest. I was finally free and had no one to answer to. Even though my relationship with my ex was mentally abusive, I managed to turn the experience into a positive one. Reading spiritual, self-help books and my faith in God helped me overcome this event that didn't kill me only made me stronger. It’s a work in progress because I continue to work on myself.
My son and I at the Lincoln Park Zoo garden.
Goal of Experience:
My goal was to get out of the unhealthy relationship because I was losing myself in it.
I felt that I had to focus on myself and in order to do that I had to remove all the negativity in my life.
I didn't want our son learning the poor choice words or out of control behavior from his father.
- I consider having a, “thick skin” (after all the verbal/emotional abuse I endured) I can honestly say that words can no longer hurt me.
- I try to be a better communicator by expressing my feelings, desires, thoughts and opinions clearly.
- Thinking positive helped me stay sane throughout the relationship. One quote that I refer back to when I'm in a funk is, "Be strong now because things will get better, it might be stormy now but it can't rain forever."
- I learned the hard way to trust my instincts.
- I learned how to prioritize what is important to me.
Lessons Learned/Learning for Life:
I am more aware of my intuitive feelings. I now understand that I do not have control over people’s emotions or actions. There is a passage in Harold S. Kushner foreword to Victor E. Frankl's book, Mans search for meaning, that I associate my experience with. Kushner wrote, "You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you." I know what to look for in my next relationship.
Impact of Experience:
I've become a mentally stronger person. This experience has deeply impacted my life in more ways than one. I want to help other women see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m a resilient person and I’m not easily intimidated by people or obstacles. Keeping an open mind about learning and mentally preparing myself to tackle any task at hand is a daily exercise. Having a positive attitude and the desire to learn will go hand-in-hand in my life-long learning process.