Saturday, October 6, 2018

I was "unlovable"

Meet Ashley 

Love is one of the most powerful emotions that we, as humans feel. This makes heartbreak one of the most painful emotions for us to feel. Growing up, I always dreamed of meeting my knight-in-shining armor (thanks Disney). I always heard about women in abusive relationships, but I never thought I would be one of those women. I thought that was just something that happened in movies. But I am one of those women. I am not ashamed about it, but I hope that my experience may provide support for others who have gone or are currently going through a toxic relationship.-Ashley

This is Ashley's story:

I was 21 years old, about to graduate from college, and was in Florida on a beach trip with my girlfriends for spring break when I fell in love for the first time. Since PCB is a major spring break destination for college kids, I wore an orange bathing suit with power T’s on it to support my school. My girls and I were walking along the beach when some guys hollered at us. My eyes immediately gravitated to one of the guys in the group, and I looked at my girl friends and silently called “dibs”. When I saw this guy, I felt like I understood the term “love at first sight”. He was everything I always dreamed of: handsome, successful, funny, charming, well dressed, and best of all, he lived in Knoxville!!!! I felt like “it always happens when you least expect it” was happening to me. We hit it off and hung out multiple times during that beach trip.

At the end of what I felt was the most perfect spring break ever, we went back to TN. I stayed in contact with him and a few weeks later, we were officially a couple. Let me tell you how he asked me out. We were walking home from the bars, quite intoxicated, and I told him if he wanted to continue seeing me, I needed more from him. Problem number one: I had to have the courage of alcohol to bring this up to him. Problem number two: he had to have me basically give him an ultimatum before he took the next step.

As a young college kid, dating during that phase of my life consisted of hanging out on the weekends, staying at his apartment, getting drunk, and going to the club - The recipe for success, I know. As time went on, I fell head over heels for this guy, deeper and deeper every day. He was my first true love, and I was convinced he was the one I was going to marry, even though there were red flags. I chose to ignore those red flags because I was young, he was handsome, and I was so obsessed with the thought of a happy ending that I thought he would be as well. I thought if I put in so much effort for this to be the perfect relationship, he would too. I also thought that if I just waited a little bit longer, things would get better. How far from the truth is that?

As time went on, things did not get better. I craved a deeper connection than what I was getting. Our relationship was physical only. There were no deep conversations. Anytime I tried to bring something up that was bothering me, he would stare at me with empty eyes and then get angry. Anytime I tried to talk about our future together, he would close off and I could tell he felt very uncomfortable. I did not like the fact that he never came to see me, I always had to come see him. His response? Tough luck. I did not like the fact that we always did what he wanted to do with his friends, and I felt as if I was pushing my friends away. I wanted him to spend time with me and my group of friends. His response? He didn’t want to. Well, I was terrified of losing him, because, I was in “love”, remember? So, I continued in this emotionless relationship, trying to convince myself that I was happy.

Eventually, the arguments went from him just avoiding the topic to the point that he would yell at me, ignore my phone calls and texts, call me names. Multiple times I cried in front of him. He didn’t care. It annoyed him. I became frightened to talk to him about anything because I was afraid he would leave me. I began having a lot of negative self-talk in my head and began blaming myself for what our relationship was lacking. This was the start of my depression and body image issues.

For Halloween one year, I made us matching Furbee costumes. We went out that night and got so many compliments! That night was the first time he got physically aggressive to me. While at the bar, I saw some people I went to high school with. One of the guys gave me a hug just as my boyfriend was walking by. He looked at me, grabbed my wrist, and screamed in my face that I was “being a whore”. He was so loud and intimidating that the bartender came over and threatened to kick him out. For the rest of the night, he was so hateful to me, was flirting with other girls to spite me, and was drinking way too much liquor. He eventually got kicked out of the bar because he kept spilling his drink and stumbling over himself. While being escorted out, he screamed at me and broke up with me. I was devasted, so I ran out of the bar to try to make amends. When I got outside, he looked at me with the most hatred in someone’s eyes I have ever seen, and began destroying the Halloween costume that I had worked so hard to make. He tore it in pieces and threw it on the ground. He told me not to come back to his apartment and to find my own way home, turned on his heel and began to leave me. I tried to stop him when he shoved me in the chest and I fell to the ground. I began sobbing and called my best friend (Megan, the blog creator actually), who left in the middle of a movie on a date to come get me.

If I had not been so afraid of being alone and so obsessed with the thought that he was the one, I would have left him that night. But I believed in my head that if he left me, my life was over. I went to my apartment and cried myself to sleep. The next day, I reached out to him and guess what? He didn’t even remember what had happened. Since he didn’t remember it, that made it OK, right? Wrong. It is never OK for a man to intimidate or yell at a woman. It is never OK for a man to aggressively lay hands on a woman.

Well, my naive little heart forgave him, and I continued on in this toxic relationship for a few months. I was so unhappy. I lost the sparkle that made me Ashley. We had dated almost a year and he hadn’t told me he loved me. This was so hard for me because I was completely in love with him. He never told me I was pretty, or smart or gave me any positive affirmation, to be honest. A few months later, I finally had enough and I gave him an ultimatum. I told him that I needed more out of the relationship: open lines of communication and needed to know this relationship wasn’t one-sided. His response when I asked if he loved me was no, he didn’t love me and would never love me. I was “unlovable”.
That was the relationship that wrecked me. I was beyond depressed. The only thing I did was go to work. Other than that, I laid in my bed with the door shut. I closed off on my family and I closed off on my friends. For 6 months, I did little more than simply exist. I lost so much weight that my PCP almost sent me to the hospital thinking I was either anorexic or suicidal. How did I heal from this experience? Well, it didn’t happen over night, that is for sure. To be honest, it sucked. For a long time, it sucked, it was painful. To this day, I still battle with the negative self-talk and body image issues, though I don’t punish myself anymore. Here is the thing, feeling pain when things don’t go the way you planned in your love life is not a bad thing. It is a good thing! It means you are human! If someone didn’t feel any pain after going through the story I just told, that is a bad sign. That means they have given up and are numb. Feeling pain means you still have hope, you are still an optimist. I had to make the conscious decision to change the way I viewed myself and viewed life in general. Initially, I thought the pain I was feeling was because I had lost my soul mate.

 Over time, I realized the pain was actually me being disappointed that that person didn’t turn out being my soul mate. By changing my thought process, although I was hurt, I realized that he wasn’t right for me. I realized it was OK for me to move on and try to find the person that is. I realized that I am the only person who is responsible about how happy I am and what I am going to do with my life to get where I want to be. I realized I can’t continue being dependent of positive affirmations from a man, or I will continue to fall for the wrong guys. I had to identify and destroy every lie that I was told, so I could let it go and become a better person. I needed to find myself again and regain my sparkle. I focused on rekindling my relationships with friends and family. I WENT TO THERAPY and I recommend everyone go to therapy at some point in their life. That was honestly the best thing I did. I scheduled a date twice a month with myself and for myself to do something for me, simply to get out of the house. I got my life together and followed my dreams. I traveled the world and applied to graduate school. I found joy in arts and crafts and other hobbies. I got out of the house, which honestly was the most important part. I realized that finding happiness begins with me, and me alone. It is a daily battle, but rather than it being the battle that controls every thought of every day, it is now something that just lies in the back of my mind. I know I am worthy of so much more, and so are you.

I want to end this by reaching out to those who are healing from a broken heart. The first thing you need to do is Cut. Him. Off. Completely. Delete him on every social media, delete his number. DO NOT TALK TO HIM. This is crucial for your healing. If you are afraid of hurting his feelings, don’t be. Real talk, he didn’t care enough about your feelings and has inflicted this pain on you. He does not deserve your attention! You are not doing this to send a message to him. You are doing this to heal yourself. Be selfish, you deserve it. Use this as an opportunity to see your life as a blank canvas and create whatever you want. Go on dates with yourself, go to the moves or out to eat, just do things that allow you to spend time with you. This may not be the most comfortable thing ever, but solitude is really important. It grows us as people and makes us realize that we can be good company to ourselves and we can be independent. This is how you learn to love yourself. This will be a time of trial an error. Give yourself the mission to find new things you enjoy doing. Or if there are old hobbies or activities that you stopped doing, you have the gift of time to revisit them!

When you start making progress on your hobbies, your passions, your knowledge, and learning about yourself, the progress will make you happy and get you excited about life again! That is a really great place to be. This is a time of growth and healing, and you sister, are one hell of a girl that deserves the world! Find yourself, love yourself, learn to enjoy your own company that way when you get to the next relationship or meet the next guy, you know that you will be selecting him for the right reasons because you know that you like him, not because you just need a companion. The journey you are on right now is not easy, but just know that it will be so worth it later on. I repeat, it is not easy now, but it will be easy later on. And when you do meet that special person in the future, you will be so happy that you took the time and effort to get strong on your own before you met him. You got this girl! Now get out there and own it! <3

This girl right here is my best friend. She is actually Luca's Godmother. I have been there for her through all of her relationships, and when they have ended. This one definitely took a tole on her. But she overcame it, found her self worth, and started doing things for herself. Fast forward to now, I have never seen her as happy and confident as she is now. She a NP, owns her own home, travels constantly, and is radiating happiness. Other relationships have come and gone since this relationship she was talking about. But, her worthiness has just amplified. Like she was saying, you don't need a man to determine your self worth, you are the one that decides that. You should always come first.

If any of y'all want to share your story please contact me through my email, or private message me on Instagram. And if you are in the Knoxville area, you are able to participate in the Happiness Photoshoot. 

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