My love affair with my partner was the epitome of an abusive relationship. We stayed up until 6 a.m. talking, with our bodies intertwined. He made me feel as if I was the only woman in the world. Our love was intoxicating. I surrendered myself fully to him. A month into our relationship, however, his true colors began to shine. His love and praise for me turned to abuse. Our relationship became defined by our fights and our on-and-off-again status. I felt sickened by pain, shame, and guilt. I blamed myself and my mind spun with questions — what had I done wrong? What did I say? I desperately yearned for our amazing, breathtaking memories to return. I wanted him to love me again. Each time he broke up with me, I assured myself that this would be my opportunity to make things right.
Finally, after a year of our volatile relationship, during a raging tantrum, he directed me: “Do me a favor and lose my number.” I stared in utter shock at my phone. Those seven words turned my world upside down. He was the person whom I loved. I felt beyond devastated — as though a knife had been placed in my heart. In a world full of pain and deceit, he was the person I trusted the most to not hurt me. And in three words, he had callously and cruelly thrown me away, as though I was trash. Our breakup has been endlessly painful and it has forever left scars on my sense of self-worth and my ability to be vulnerable with other people.
Healing from my breakup has been a journey and an inner struggle, but practicing self-care was how I found healing, peace, and hope. After my breakup, my pursuit of self-care was both mental and physical. During my yoga classes and time on the treadmill, I found clarity and engaged in meditation.
"So often, we will immediately launch into self-blame or blaming the other — but what will really bring us peace and harmony is taking time to truly reflect on all that we've learned from the relationship and how we've grown."
The most fulfilling component of self-love has been giving my self the time and space I needed to reflect on the relationship, and more importantly, my innermost needs and desires. During my previous breakups, I would often succumb to rebound hookups or one-night stands that left me feeling used and broken even more. My previous actions following a breakup hurled me down a rabbit hole of chaos and self-loathing. Now, instead of obsessively using Tinder or pursuing men, I use my breakup as an opportunity for me to engage in mindful self-reflection. Now, instead of chaos, I choose peace.
The crux of my personal growth was reaching the point at which I realized what components I need — and deserve — from a relationship. “The key to self-compassion after a breakup is to allow yourself to spend time being quiet so that you can tune into all of the gifts that you gained from that relationship,” spiritual author and guide Heather Kristian Strang tells Bustle. “So often, we will immediately launch into self-blame or blaming the other—but what will really bring us peace and harmony is taking time to truly reflect on all that we've learned from the relationship and how we've grown. And then we must take these reflections into the new chapter of our life.”
In my future relationships, I will be assertive and never allow my partner to belittle me. I will never shame myself for my partner’s abusive behavior. I will honor myself with dignity, respect, and love. A truly healthy relationship should nourish me and foster my personal, spiritual, and intellectual growth. It should elevate me to a higher spiritual and intellectual version of myself. It should never diminish my sense of self-worth.