It starts out innocently enough. You don't see that he's manipulative. He's 'sad' and 'wants to hang out you and your friends'. So you let him. Night after night. And you think, "Wow, he loves hanging out with me and getting to know my friends." The truth is though, he just wants to make sure you're not out doing something you shouldn't be. Manipulation.
Or it's just straight up verbal abuse. All throughout my marriage, nothing I did was ever good enough. Especially when I worked at the health club in the child care center. I worked 4-5 days a week, 4 hr shifts. When I wanted to go out with friends (which was RARE), I wasn't justified a night out because "hardly worked during the week". Never mind that I also had 3 young children to take care of 24/7, because he worked full time, and when he was home, he was parked in front of the tv all day.
After years of being told that you're worthless, crazy, selfish, a bitch, and many other things, you start to believe it. No matter what anyone else says to you. No matter how clean the house was, it wasn't clean enough. I remember one time he knocked over a glass of milk in the fridge, but it was my fault, because I "shouldn't have put it in there in the first place". Ummm.....okay.
So you know, looking in the mirror I'd start telling myself that I *wasn't worth anything. I couldn't do better. And I *was fat and ugly. I certainly couldn't have been a good mom, because it was MY fault the kids acted up.
I finally got the courage to move out, but we went back. And left again. And went back. Until finally he kicked me out for good. Shortly after that, I started dating someone. (We'll call him Richard)
Richard was kind, attentive, caring, and all that. Richard was also into cheating, lying about it, and then blaming me when I found out. But because I'm loyal to a fault, and give people a million more chances than they deserve, I forgave and continued to go on. For almost 4 years. Until he cheated on me with a married woman. Then I was finally like, "WHAT am I doing??" I woke up and realized that I was wasting time on someone that didn't respect me. When someone respects you, they don't do what he did over and over. Even a Christian that goes to church isn't always what they seem to be.
Don't get me wrong, there are good men out there. I tell you all of this because it's what happens when you don't love yourself first. I didn't. I took what I could get.
Then January 2016 happened.
I went out with a guy I had been talking to for about 6 months. Not about much though. Mainly kids, exes, and sports. I remember telling him on our first date that if he wouldn't ever watch Disney movies with me, he could leave. He said, "I love Disney movies."
The first couple of times that we hung out, we watched Inside Out, and then Big Hero 6.
He called me beautiful. And smart. And a good mom. And I was looking for his hidden motive. Waiting for him to explode and tell me that I was worthless. Waiting.
But he continued to call me beautiful. And tell me that he was head over heels for me.
(I was still waiting, btw)
Love yourself first.
Isn't it awful what even one bad relationship will do to a person? I wasted days, and even weeks waiting for him to start in on how awful I was.
We've been broken up for a couple of months now, but during the 9 1/2 months we were together, I slowly started learning how to love myself. It's an ongoing process by far. I'm not convinced that ANYONE 100% loves themselves.
But now I can look in the mirror, and like what I see. I see a woman who has gone through hell and back with an exhusband who wants to destroy her life, but isn't letting him.
I see a woman who has the physical scars from being pregnant with three super amazing kids that I couldn't be more proud of.
I see a girl who gets excited to watch Big Hero 6, and rewatches the same Fuller House episode over and over. (Hello, New Kids!)
I see a warrior. I fight a battle with depression and anxiety every day, and right now, I'm winning.
Sometimes I can be selfish. Sometimes I take too much without giving enough back. But I'm learning.
And honestly, if it weren't for these 7 faces, I'd have given up long ago.
But right now, I'm loving myself first.