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When you're in a mentally abusive relationship it's hard to see it for yourself, especially when you have a tendency to believe people are inherently good and assume that everyone *wants* to heal and be better, and especially when you've endured physical abuse that you deemed "worse". I used to hold tight to Bob Marley's advice that everyone will hurt you, and you have to figure out who's worth being hurt for. This is still true, but the figuring out who's worth it part has been a struggle for me.
Everyone I've romantically loved has been controlling, mean, manipulative, unfaithful, unstable, and bitter, with no desire for more out of life. I'm not sure why I attracted people with these qualities, or stayed with each of them for so long, or protected them from criticism - but I know it had something to do with a lack of love for myself.

When I was cheated on, I gave 3rd, 5th, and 12th chances. When I was lied to, I believed the "I was afraid to tell you" excuse. When they stopped looking for work, I worked harder to pick up the slack. When I was screamed at, belittled, pushed into panic attacks, I believed I deserved it. When I couldn't handle the pain but didn't have the courage to leave, I drank and became suicidal. When I needed support, I further isolated myself and pretended everything was perfect. I put on a facade to protect the not-so-innocent. I drank the "Lemonade" not realizing it was Clorox.

When I left, I agreed to keep all the dark secrets to myself, to be the bigger person and to not inflict harm despite having endured far worse. When I was slandered, lied about, had trusted information outed to others, I looked the other way. When I was left with unpaid bills, I paid them and let it go. When I was stalked or harassed, I ignored it. When I was accused of cheating by cheaters, I didn't give it merit. When I was accused of being abusive by my abusers, for doing things like yelling back after being screamed at for hours, I kept it in perspective. I remembered my violent father and how good he was at convincing others he was an amazing loving parent. I remembered how he convinced my family I had abused other children when in reality he had abused me my entire life. When my friendships were sabotaged with lies, I let them go. When I was accused of not caring, I tried to remind myself why I shouldn't. When I was accused of doing all the things said people did to me, I silenced my hurt and disappointment and focused instead on being grateful it was over. navy blue items of the formal occasions to wear

With the help of real friends and a good trauma therapist, I've learned to love myself. I've learned that it's okay to be alone. I've learned that if something is painful enough to make you drink or be self destructive, it's time to leave it behind. I've learned to recognize toxicity, abuse, and gaslighting when I see it. I've learned that I have value. I've learned that true friendships are so much more fulfilling than forced relationships. I've learned that lying to protect others will never turn out well for me. I've learned to admit that I'm not perfect, and that it's not my fault that I didn't understand these things before. I've learned that self medication is extremely temporary. I've learned that I am deserving of criticism, but never deserving of abuse, harassment, or slander. I've learned that I sleep just fine in an empty bed. I've learned when to stand up for myself and when to simply walk away. I've learned that sometimes they are one and the same.

I've learned that abusers sometimes play the best victims. I've learned that survivors of child abuse end up in abusive adult relationships because we don't realize what isn't normal. I've learned that Narcissism is incurable. I've learned that some people never grow up. I've learned that Hurt People hurt people.

I've learned that I shouldn't be setting myself on fire to keep others warm.