Disclaimer: This story contains mentions of abuse that may be upsetting to some.
“I thought he loved me even though he couldn’t stop cheating on me because he’d always come home to me and he’d always buy me jewelry and order me ‘pro-flowers’ with gifts and a note that would always make me feel so special.
He’d spend hours on the phone with me or on skype whenever we were apart because he told me I was his soulmate.
I loved that man so deeply… who constantly belittled me, who withheld finances from me, who controlled everything I did, and who caused me physical harm.
When I was 18 years old, I thought I met the love of my life.
I thought it was cool being with someone who was older, who drove a sports car, and had lots of tattoos. And I thought I was so lucky he chose me.
\I fell in love with a charming, sweet, handsome man.
A man who dressed nicely, was very polite, and had good manners.
I fell in love with a man who opened doors for me, pulled chairs out for me, made sure I walked on the ‘inside’ when we’d walk down the street, and always made sure everyone knew I was ‘his.’
I FELL IN LOVE with everything about him, and even his dark side before knowing what that would entail.
People ask me over and over again, ‘Why did you stay so long?’
It’s because I was taught THAT was love and I thought I could change him.
Abuse comes gradually, it starts with something as small as a mean comment and then progresses to something bigger.
And A LOT of ‘I’m sorry’s.’
‘I love you so much.’
‘I couldn’t live without you if you left.’
‘I’ll never do that again’ over and over again until it’s:
‘You make me act this way.’
‘I’m sorry… but it’s your fault.’
‘I’ll kill myself if you leave.’
‘No one will ever love you.’
Once you’re at the point of crying more than you’re laughing or smiling, you know you’re in too deep.
When you’re CONSTANTLY faking a happy life, you’re in too deep.
I went back to that man over and over again because he convinced me every time that he only loved me and I was just overreacting.
Until the day I couldn’t do it anymore.
It’s not because I was strong enough to walk away; I walked away because ‘staying’ was killing me.
I became strong when I didn’t go back.
I endured a lot of pain and a lot of tears, abuse, cheating, affairs…everything.
He did all those things because he was miserable with himself. Not because it was my fault, because it had absolutely nothing to do with me.
What happened to me didn’t break me.
It only made me a hell of a lot stronger.
I’ve stood on my OWN for a year and a half now, while he’s been in relationship after relationship with girls who resemble me.
When I started my new path, I promised myself to stick to my guns and to not settle for anything less.. and I’m so glad I did.
I will never judge someone for staying. I know firsthand what it’s like. It takes guts to leave. Stay Strong.”
[If you are seeking help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit thehotline.org to live chat with someone 24/7. Help is out there and you are not alone.]
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Annie Hartigan. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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