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Trigger warning: The following post includes mention of domestic abuse and violence.
When I was 19 I fell in love with a sociopath. I won’t go into details on what happened here, but I left the relationship with a broken heart and PTSD. I know a lot of abuse victims who wish they’d never met their abusers, and I fully understand where they’re coming from. As abuse victims we don’t owe anybody gratitude or forgiveness and I had years of my life taken away from me. But still, I wouldn’t take the relationship back if I was given the chance. Here’s why.
I developed a new sense of self worth.
Throughout my relationship I was put down daily. I was called ugly and fat and dumb and a few words I’m not able to repeat here. And from his point of view, I totally understand why. The only way a person is ever going to leave an abusive relationship is if they’re able to see that they’re worth more than the abuse.
When I entered this relationship I lacked self esteem, self worth, and would have done anything to make sure the person I loved was happy. It took me a few years to get out, and I’m still learning how to love myself, but my relationship forced me to accept that I was worth more than the situation I was in. Looking back, this was the first step towards self love.
I know what I want for future relationships.
Ever since I left my abusive relationship, I’ve found dating a lot harder. I find it a lot harder to open up and trust people, and I’m terrified of things going wrong. But I also know what I want out of a relationship, which is something I’m not sure I knew before I met my ex. I want to be happy and I want to be loved the way I love others, and I’m willing to wait for that.
I’m more able to see red flags.
Narcissists are notoriously charming. I was drawn in with romance and lies and the best sex of my life, and I completely ignored the red flags. Of course they were there from the day I met him: he was over an hour late to our first date, he called his exes crazy, he ignored me for a good few days after I first slept with him. I just couldn’t see them because my view was clouded by everything that was good.
I actually met another girl he slept with. We got on really well and quickly bonded over how terrible my ex was. But she had already dated someone similar to that, and was able to see his red flags while I looked straight past them. She never saw him again, and I’d like to think that next time I meet someone like that I’ll be able to get out before things get ugly.
It shaped me into who I am today.
I have no idea who I would be without this relationship, and I’m not sure I’d want to know. I’m smarter, stronger and more driven than ever. I still have bad days – really bad days – but now that I’m past the worst of it I know that I can get through anything.
I feel like I’m a better and more empathetic person than I used to be. For years I didn’t tell a single soul what was happening to me and so every day I try to be the nicest person I know because you never know what someone else is going through.
I’m grateful I got out.
I genuinely didn’t know if I’d make it out. At the time I didn’t care, but now that I’ve been healing for a few years I’m glad I did. I’m grateful to still be living my life, because not everyone is lucky enough to make it out and it could well have gone the other way for me.
I’m grateful for my freedom and for everyone who supported me through the worst days of my life. I’m grateful that I’ve finally managed to get my life back together and I’m grateful for the strength this experience gave me.