Everyone seems to believe that relationships are black and white; good and bad, healthy and toxic. From the perspective of one of the many girls who stayed in a toxic relationship for too long, it’s never that easy. He truly was the first thing I thought about when I woke up and the last thing I thought about when I went to bed. He still gave me butterflies when he smiled in my direction from across the room. And on the rare occasion that he told me he loved me, I believed him whole-heartedly.
But then there was the bad: he was secretive, sometimes angry; maybe not with me but with the world as if it had cheated him out of something. I questioned if I was worthy of his love on a daily basis and I questioned if he was being honest with me even more. When he was sad, I wasn’t enough to make him happy. When he was happy, I was always fearful that I would ruin it.
No, he never hit me. He never called me names out of anger or made me fear for my safety. When I made any request for some sort gesture of love, even just those three little words that seem to move mountains, I was being needy; I was hurting him. When I was in pain, his pain was greater. When I needed support, he needed it more.
Then at the end, when things were at their worst, I tried with everything in my being to be his everything, to make him happy, to show him unconditional love on a level that could fix any problem. I put him first at a time in my life when I should have valued myself over any man that chose not to treat me the way I deserved to be treated. He was indifferent to me. I was just there and no matter how hard I tried, I would always be just that: present not important.
Yes, looking back, I should have known that I didn’t need someone that would make me question my own self worth. But I loved him. I thought that if anyone could make him happy, could show him what unconditional love was, it would be me. I wasn’t blinded by some sort of spell that consumes people in toxic relationships because no matter how hard we want to believe it, that spell doesn’t exist. I saw the red flags, but I chose to stay and fight for something that was clearly already over.
People that stay in toxic relationships don’t do it out of stupidity or out of fear, I think we do it because we have a faith in others that CAN move mountains.
We are capable of finding hope where others find chaos. I am not weak because I stayed; I am stronger because I believed in someone, in something, that needed hope and healing. And now that it’s over, I am grateful. I know my worth, and I know that regardless of the circumstances, I can find light in any darkness. And when the right person comes along, I will be enough, and that hope that I am capable of finding in others will endure anything that comes our way. I am better because I am broken and I wouldn’t change a thing.