Why I Stayed
Allow me to drop a truth bomb from the very beginning here: No relationship will ever be worth giving up any bit of yourself.
Please know that I say this from a place of deep love.
If you’re feeling like you’ve silenced yourself for too long, you’ve bent yourself to fit what you think will work better, you’ve ruined friendships, or sacrificed your own happiness to stay in something that feels familiar over making a scary change….
Girl, I’ve been there.
In fact, my longest relationship came from doing exactly that. I choose “security” and “happiness” over myself. Throughout the time I was in that relationship (years) there were countless nights that I cried myself to sleep. Standing in the shower trying to convince myself I wasn’t crying, it was just the shower on my face. I used to scream out at the universe to tell me why I could count on disappointment, not my person. I was lonely in a relationship. I gave everything I had, whether it was a piece of my heart or my sanity, I was quick to give it up. At the end of it, I was miserable. I was heartbroken, confused, and disappointed. Ultimately, he chose a life without me and I was left feeling like everything I had done was a waste of time. More accurately, I felt like I had been a waste of time.
It was my first big heartbreak in more ways than one. As I began to walk through my first days of being single again, I had to trudge through the realization of everything I had given up to be left with nothing. I was furious. Yes, I was mad that the relationship ended, but I was more so disappointed in the series of choices I had made every day.
Be quiet. Don’t start the argument.
It’ll get better, just give it time.
Maybe this time things won’t end in an argument.
If I offer, maybe this time it’ll be a yes to spending time with me.
It’s okay – I’m busy, too. We don’t need to spend any more time than one evening together.
If I keep him, maybe that will make me feel like I’m good enough in this relationship.
I can stay silent just a little longer. It’ll change in a bit.
My heart hurt but my head told me to stay. So I stayed. Much longer than I should have.
Now, looking back on that relationship, I can tell you that fear drove every decision I made. Fear of being alone, fear of ruining what I thought was love, fear of pain from heartbreak, fear of causing a problem, and fear of what it would say about me if the relationship ended.
It didn’t matter that we wanted different things long term.
It didn’t matter that we disagreed on a lot – like A LOT.
It didn’t matter that my support system saw very clearly the pain I tried to hide.
It didn’t matter that I didn’t feel like me. I was in a relationship that looked good on the outside. That was what mattered.
The relationship ended quite a while ago now, and I’m still working on forgiving myself. I’m still working on telling my inner critic that cruelty only makes it worse. I’m working on showing my own kindness to me.
If you’re finding yourself in a similar situation, if you’re thinking that you’re reading your own story right now, I want you to know I understand why you’re staying. I get it. We’re not guaranteed a great romantic love and leaving a toxic relationship is scary and hard. But, girl, you have this one life. You have this one chance to explore the highs and lows of the emotional rollercoaster that is life. Where there was once heartbreak, there becomes space for healing, growth, and, yes, new love. Maybe, for the first time, you’ll learn to stand alone and discover that dancing by yourself isn’t all that bad. Maybe you’ll find that choosing what to watch on Netflix each night is actually freaking fantastic. Maybe you’ll meet that special someone you forgot to stay in contact with along the way – yourself.
I hope you’ll be brave. I hope you’ll look in the mirror and convince yourself, if you don’t believe already, that you are magic, babe. Yeah, the sweet texts are nice and having someone to cuddle with is really comforting, but I also know how lonely it is to lay right next to someone and feel miles apart.
I may sleep alone now, but I wake up every morning with a happy heart.
Your heart deserves the same. Be brave, sweet girl.