My ex boyfriend and I broke up late last year.
The last few months have amounted to one of the most emotionally arduous times of my life, as I was left to cope with the aftermath of ending something I thought was set in stone. However, I hadn’t initially realized that the pain, the sadness and the sudden blast of insecurity that I was presented with stemmed from the actual relationship itself.
My ex boyfriend was verbally abusive and emotionally unstable, the extent to which is difficult to measure in a few short words. The psychological scars have made the healing process that much more convoluted, with numerous highs and lows along the way. The relationship and its inevitable end had atrophied my spirit. I was left lost, confused, resentful and, deeply hurt. I was broken.
The most debilitating outcome of a verbally abusive relationship is its fatal impact on one’s self esteem. I lost complete confidence in myself; from my decision making skills, to the ability to communicate properly, to my mannerisms, my accent, my vocabulary, my lifestyle, my cultural background and upbringing, to my friendships, my family and, the value of my life. Taking that back on one’s own terms is difficult due to the insidious nature of the abuse and the manipulation on the part of the abuser. In reality, my mind had already fully consumed the toxicity of the words.
How does one detoxify? Initially, I sought solace in the comfort of friends and family, I abided by healthy living guidelines, I read, I wrote, I listened to music, and I opened my heart to the healing properties of creativity and mindfulness.
But that wasn’t enough. I struggled. He popped sporadically and constantly into my stream of thoughts; he was everywhere. Every moment I thought I had achieved an inkling of happiness, I thought of him, and just like that, I’d remember the insults and viral words he spat to hinder my self-worth. My memory worked against me. Without fault, I’d delve deep into that feeling of worthlessness that I had grown accustomed to during our year-long relationship. I wasn’t healing. Something deeper, within me, had to change – the perception and belief in myself.
During this time, a colleague (mentor) of mine had been helping me daily in keeping me on track with staying positive, optimistic and confident. After one of many nightly conversations with him regarding my struggle, I arrived at work the next morning to find the following painted on the ceiling above my desk:
This was my colleague’s gift to me.
When I find feelings of sadness, anger and worthlessness creep up due to a memory of my ex boyfriend, I look up and repeat those words to myself. That is, I take myself back to that place which my colleague calls, “the truth.”
To those that currently struggle in abusive relationships and those that have struggled and are healing, remember that you are beautiful. As words will bring you down, words can also provide you with the means to rise above. Beauty does not lie in another’s control to affirm this for you. You just are. Believe it, and you are. Once you believe and forget that someone may have been convincing you of otherwise, you will find yourself moving forward and, fundamentally, healing. This is where I find myself right now and it’s a nice place to be. The right people, the right frame of mind and the personal self-worth that I control, are allowing me to heal.
Here is my mentor-ish affirmation for you, fellow survivors, to reference during those times you’re feeling down: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.