Note : A few months ago I had decided that I won't speak/write about my past, because pricking those wounds, again and again, was preventing them from healing.
However, I've realized that my past is my past, and I cannot change what happened. So, even though I've written about the events of my past in this post, I've tried to be as brief as possible about them, focusing more on the lessons I've learnt, than on the details of what took place.
My past (in brief) :
I studied in an all-girls school, so I never spoke to a guy properly till the age of 17, as I was too shy. When I did make male friends in the 12th grade, I was able to communicate much easier with them than with girls. It was strange at first, but definitely freeing.
Thereafter, I "dated" my best friend (the one I met in the 12th grade), from the age of 19 to 22. It was more of an extension of our friendship than it was a relationship. We were very immature and scared, so we never told anyone that we were "dating". The relationship ended after 4 years, because there was no future, as he was from a different religion and his family was very conservative. Also, I ended it at that time because I had a big exam coming up a year later, and I wanted to concentrate on my studies.
He was the only guy I was so close to till the age of 22. He was a nice person, but he had made me believe that I would never be okay on my own. During the 4 years of our relationship, he kept telling me - "when we break up, make sure that you date someone as soon as possible, because you need someone to take care of you". I believed that he knew me better than I knew myself, and so, I followed his advice.
A few months after the relationship ended, I met a guy at the gym. He behaved like the perfect gentleman and I got carried away. Having had low self-esteem since my teenage years, I was super excited that someone actually fell for me. I was extremely naive, and having watched a lot of romantic films, I thought that it was "meant to be".
Everything was perfect for a month, and slowly, the emotional abuse began. When a highly sensitive person (me) gets into a relationship with a narcissist (him) there is bound to be abuse. (The abuse, which happened on a daily basis, consisted of yelling, taunting, comparing me to other girls, body shaming, making me doubt myself and my abilities, lying/constantly changing stories, manipulating, distancing me from my family and friends, controlling everything I did, and plenty of personal attacks.) I used to cry for hours every day, due to the abuse, and he used to say stuff like, "The world doesn't need sensitive people like you", which made me feel even worse about myself.
Turns out, I had lived in a bubble all my life. I had read about monsters only in fairytales/novels, and never knew that there were many who walked among men.
I was in the abusive relationship for barely 6 months, but it broke me completely. I managed to get out of it with great difficulty, and obviously without his approval, so, during the next year and a half, he sent me death threats via email, stalked me at my workplace and home, and followed my car at full speed (in short, he did anything to keep me afraid, so that I would continue to be under his control).
Comedian Donald Glover couldn't have said it better :
To add to the mayhem, my first ex kept harassing me (unware of what I was going through) - he wanted to know how I could move on so fast, and he wanted to show me how depressed he was after our relationship had ended. His behavior frustrated me, and I was shocked that he didn't remember that he was the one who convinced me to date someone after him in the first place!!
Narcissistic abuse :
When I read about narcissistic abuse in 2016 (after many months of being in severe depression), I was shocked to learn that the abuse I went through matched the medical books to a T.
Here are few images explaining what kind of abuse narcissists mete out on their victims, and what kind of people they really are :
The shocking part is that narcissists don't believe that they are wrong at all. They're the ones with the severe mental issue, but they blame their victims for being crazy.
When I look back, I wish I didn't get into that toxic relationship in the first place. I wish I had known about who narcissists were, and fled as soon as I saw the red flags. I wish I hadn't blamed myself for being too sensitive. I wish, I wish, I wish...
But truth is, there's no use judging the past based on information I now possess. Yes, till date, that toxic relationship was the worst mistake of my life, but the ensuing struggle made me learn more about myself and about life, than I ever had before.
Remember, you are stronger than your worst struggles!
Trauma changes us :
1) Depression & anxiety :
The emotional abuse made me slip into depression, and the stalking and threatening led to terrible panic attacks. I went to see a therapist in 2016, when I had lost the will to live (after the threatening emails), and having a non-judgemental person to share my problems with, really helped.
2) Social anxiety :
I've always been shy, but the depression made me go deeper into my shell. My social anxiety increased tremendously, and now, although it's been 5 years since the abuse, I still can't have a conversation with someone without worrying about every minor detail.
3) Weight gain :
Due to the depression, I stress ate too much, and as a consequence, I gained a lot of weight. I always had low self-esteem, but the weight gain worsened it.
Relationship advice :
A toxic relationship is always filled with fear, and it is NOT love.
Don't make the same mistakes I made -
1) Don't blame yourself for the pain being inflicted on you.
2) Don't make excuses for your abuser's behaviour.
3) Don't put up with crap. You deserve better!
4) Seek help, because you have no clue how fast things can escalate.
Remember that mental/emotional abuse is as bad as physical abuse. Just because nobody can see any physical wounds, doesn't mean that you aren't suffering.
I'm a very talkative person (with those I'm close to), but as I had been isolated from my family and friends, I never spoke to anyone about what I was going through, for months. I hid in my room, crying for hours every day, blaming myself for the mess I was in, and this only worsened my depression.
I implore you to speak to your family and friends, keep them in the know. Not everyone will empathize with you, many will blame you, but don't let that bother you. You need to be there for yourself first, but you also need a good support system.
You are NOT too sensitive.
You are NOT crazy.
You are beautiful.
You deserve love.
You deserve peace.
The following Ted Talks really helped change my perspective on relationships :
Before getting into a relationship make sure that you are comfortable being alone. Only once you enjoy your own company and love yourself, will you be able to love someone else unconditionally.
Thanks to that toxic relationship, I have serious commitment issues. I am still healing, and I no longer believe that I require to be in a relationship in order to be happy. I love myself, I am proud of how far I've come, and I do NOT require anyone to "look after me".
1) Self-love :
Over the past 5 years, I've realized how toxic my thoughts have been about myself, and how hard I've always been toward myself. The depression, although absolutely horrifying, is what made me learn to love myself, and accept myself for the sensitive person that I am. I still struggle with self-love on most days, but I'm definitely more confident than I was all those years ago.
2) Weight loss :
It is only after I started practicing self-love, that I started taking care of my health as well. In 2018, I did a ton of research, put in a lot of effort, and lost around 40 pounds in less than 6 months. I am now obsessed (in a good way) with being fit, and sharing the knowledge I've gained through my research and experience.
3) Writing :
The abuse and depression are what made me start writing, because I wanted to help people who were going through a similar battle. A few deleted Instagram motivational accounts later, here I am, writing on my blog, hoping that someone will benefit from my struggles. (And hoping that someone will read my posts. Haha. *sad wink*)
Getting to know myself better :
I'm not only sensitive, but I'm a highly sensitive, empathetic introvert, who's not ashamed of herself anymore.
The following images explain my personality type better :
Learning to be selfish :
Mark Manson, in the 8th chapter of his book, spoke about how toxic relationships have a victim and a saver. I realized after reading that, that being an empathetic individual, I've always been a saver.
Over the past few days, I've realized that I've always tried to be a saver in my friendships as well, especially with my close friends.
Ways I've been a saver :
1) I've always put the needs of others above my own.
2) I've taken responsibility for other people's problems, trying to help them heal.
3) I've changed myself for the sake of the relationship/friendship, and for the happiness of the other person.
4) I've gone out of my way to make people feel good, even when I'm not always appreciated for it.
5) I've walked on eggshells around people who are short-tempered, just so that I don't upset them with what I say or do.
6) I've borne taunts and insults from people who like joking around a little too much, just so that I don't upset them if I tell them to stop.
I usually behave very empathetically, putting myself in the shoes of the other person before I say or do anything, and when people don't behave in a similar way, it hurts like crazy.
But there has always come a time when I can't deal with it all any longer. Being highly sensitive, everything starts to hurt a little too much - the taunts, the jokes, the fear. And that's when I distance myself from people, because I realize that they are hurting me more than helping me.
The first point of the image - 'You can't make everyone happy' - made me think about how toxic it is to be a saver all the time, and I reached the following conclusions :
1) I need to put my needs first, then alone will I be happy from within.
2) I need to stop depleting my energy for the sake of others. People pleasing is doing me more harm than good.
3) It is unreasonable for me to expect others to behave/react the way I do, because not everyone is empathetic.
4) I shouldn't try to save a friendship/relationship when efforts are not being made from both sides. If the other person is not bothered about it, then neither should I.
I've tried to be a saver for far too long, and I'm finally letting go... Life must go on... And from now on, I'll be a little selfish instead.
Thank you for reading! Stay blessed!
Picture credits : Pinterest