You Didn’t Just Break Me—You Taught Me How Strong I Really Am

Trigger warning: Domestic abuse

I fell in love with your eyes, your luscious auburn hair, your soft skin, your quirky personality, your taste in music, your laugh. I fell in love with our story.

We were two broken people seeking a change of pace. I was rejected from graduate school and you were picking up the pieces after a failed marriage. Did we meet by coincidence? No. We met during a solar eclipse and quickly fell in love 40,000 feet in the sky. You were my first love, my first girlfriend. I was your second chance at true love that you desired. We traveled the world together, ate questionable food, cuddled after a 20-plus hour workday, and got promise rings in Japan. I never got tired of carrying your bag. From random countries in the Middle East to Europe, Asia, and Africa, we saw it all. This was our fairytale that people only heard about in movies. Our cup of love was overflowing.

What happened? How did something so beautiful turn into pain and countless nights of crying? How did our love turn into a relationship filled with anxiety? Was it my fault? Was I not loving or patient enough to heal you from your past scars? The trauma and demons that you once felt in your previous relationship came back and took the person I loved away from me.

We went from corny jokes to bickering with one another. I knew you weren’t like this. I was convinced that you were going to heal from all your damage as long as I stayed to support and love you. I tried to justify your physical and mental abuse. I endured everything you were throwing at me, despite the advice from my friends and family telling me to get out. I took it all, the punches to my face, the gaslighting, you downplaying my concerns, you threatening to runway with someone else, you stating that you wanted vengeance from your previous relationship, you flirting with others in front of me, you threatening to hurt yourself if I left. I deleted my social media, pushed away friends for you, talked down on my friends and family. Why did I endure this? Why was I so blind to it all? I was convinced you were going to change and that our therapy appointments would save us.

Alas, it happened. I quit our shared job and moved to continue my professional career and school. You followed me and we moved in together. This was the beginning of our end. The time, distance, and being surrounded by loved ones opened my eyes to realize that I was broken. I was filled with anxiety. I began to lie over small things to avoid any confrontation. I would drive slower from work to home, and I would stay in my car parked outside the house for at least an hour, fearing to go inside and not knowing what was awaiting me. Was it a relaxing night watching Netflix or was it another night of being attacked and feeling like a worthless human? I didn’t look at you the same, and my love for you was depleted. However, I remember the last days of our relationship. I was sluggish, didn’t eat, slept less, and felt a sadness in my soul that I have never felt before.

You changed me. I lost myself in the attempt to help you heal from your past wounds. I did my best—I put my well-being at risk, to no avail. What hurt the most walking away from you was all the broken promises that are now memories.

We promised each other that we would be together forever.

We promised each other we would have children.

I promised I would never leave you.

Sorry that I never used the engagement ring I bought you. Sorry I had to walk away from you. Sorry that we didn’t spend our whole lives together.

Oddly enough, I also want to say thank you. Thank you for breaking me down and making me realize I’m strong enough to pick up the broken pieces and keep my heart open. Thank you for making me emotionally stronger and making me realize what boundaries I need to set for myself. Because of you, I know what kind of person I need in my life to make my soul happy. Because of you, I am now a better version of myself. Because of you, I am now one step closer to having my own beautiful family with the woman I love.

It’s true that I do think of you at times and hope you are doing well. But I am strong enough to not reach out and let my memories be just that—memories and experiences that serve as a reminder of how strong I am and the abundant self-love I have for myself.

To all who have been down the path of an abusive relationship, not many people will understand how easily it is to be sucked into one. Is it our fault? No. We are emotionally strong people who see the best in others, and our kind nature is sometimes taken advantage of. Please, keep an open heart in love as I do. Believe most people are good. Let our experience be that—an experience and a lesson of what we will never put ourselves through again. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Ex flight attendant to mental health professional

Keep up with Gerardo on Instagram