My longest relationship lasted 14 years and produced two wonderful children. I tried my hardest to make it seem like we were the perfect family, but inside my soul was dying. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what made me happy. I felt trapped and stuck in a relationship that had no warmth, no love, no emotions.
He didn’t like my family, he didn’t like my friends. At one point he actually demanded that I choose between them and him. If I had folks over, he would ask them when were they leaving.
I constantly found myself trying to fit into his expectations of life and always being unsatisfied because I saw a different life for myself and for our kids. But I got caught in the trap that most women do when they stay with someone who doesn’t fulfill their spirit. I wanted my kids to have a family, even if it meant sacrificing my happiness.
I still remember the day that I decided to leave. We had the opportunity to move to a better neighborhood and my mom offered for us to come and stay with her until we could move into our new place. He refused. I told him that I was going to do it anyway. He said if I did, we were done. To myself I said, “challenge accepted” and called my mom to tell her that the kids and I were coming, then I left.
Now we had a habit of breaking up and getting back together. But this time was different–all because of my daughter. I was starting to second-guess my decision because I was afraid of doing it all by myself, until one day my daughter sat me down and asked me a serious question. She asked why I had told her to never let a man talk to her in a disrespectful, but I accepted the abuse from her dad.
At that moment I realized that I was doing a huge disservice to my kids. I was showing them that this was how relationships were supposed to go. That you aren’t meant to have any love shown to you.
I knew in that moment that I could never ever go back. Even if it meant that I raised my kids by myself and I ended up alone forever. I had been making my spirit small and not living my best life, just so I could make this man, who didn’t really love me comfortable. I was living a life that wasn’t destined to be mine simply because I was afraid of the unknown.
But a child who saw everything, knew in her spirit that I needed more. I had been asking for more for years and it had fallen on deaf ears. I had always envisioned myself in relationship with pet names, and cuddling, hand holding and inside jokes. In this relationship I wasn’t allowed to be carefree without being told to act my age.
After realizing that we had reached a point of no return, I knew there was no going back. I felt like a weight had been lifted. Like I had been living with a gorilla on my back, dragging me down, and making me unhappy and unhealthy. I could feel my spirit returning–my drive, my ambitions. I felt like I no longer needed to compact my dreams, just so that someone wouldn’t feel uncomfortable by the brightness of my light. I made myself a promise.
I promised myself, that I would never do anything that didn’t feel good to my spirit. That I would no longer stay in places or around folks that didn’t value what I brought to the table. I learned to love myself enough to realize that I was worth more than I had ever gave myself credit for and that I was stronger than I had realized.
I promised that the next time I wanted a relationship, I would make sure that the person didn’t ever try to dim my light, but would put his next to mine so that we could shine together.
Most importantly I promised myself that I wanted to be a woman that my kids could be proud of. That they could look up to. I wanted to give them the best of me and I couldn’t in the environment that we were in.
Years have passed since I’ve been out of that relationship. I’ve gotten married and had another child. I moved to the other side of the country and I’m happy. That bad relationship made it possible for a good one. One where there is warmth and love, pet names and cuddling, hand holding and inside jokes.
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