This is a very vulnerable post for me to write.
I’ve been wanting to write about this for so long to just get it off my chest, but I never really felt ready until now. I was in an unhealthy relationship for about 3 years, a relationship I knew I had to get out of but felt trapped. I had shared a little bit of my story on Instagram a few months ago and I had received so many messages from women who had gone through a similar situation. So, I am writing this post hoping that it resonates with at least one person. I am writing this because it is helpful, and it is healing.
Healing comes in many different forms and everyone handles situations differently, but I was ashamed for a long time. I didn’t feel worthy and I was very self-conscious. I have always been such a strong person, but during this time, I was weak. I didn’t believe I could leave and then move on with my life and restore my confidence. My ultimate worry was that I would never be able to trust someone again. I was also worried I wouldn’t be able to let anyone back in.
After much deliberation, I ended up going to talk to a therapist, it was extremely helpful. At first I was embarrassed, because I didn’t know how I was going to tell someone, out loud, all about the past few years. I didn’t even know if I wanted to bring up all of the moments I had tried to suppress. Although now, looking back I know that I went to her wanting answers. Answers that I didn’t get from him.
She wasn’t able to give me any real answers either, but instead she guided me through the healing journey. I’ll never forget when I asked her “will I ever trust someone again?” and she said, “when it is the right person, you just will”. Well at the time, that was NOT what I wanted to hear. I just didn’t feel confident that I would just be able to let someone in and give them my trust. But, I also didn’t want to meet someone amazing and push them away.
The Importance of a Support System
Thankfully I had amazing friends and family to support me through some of my roughest days. I will be forever grateful for that. If you have a few people in your life you can trust, lean on them, this is not a time to hold everything in to yourself. I was so ashamed that I had continued in this toxic relationship for so long that I wanted to try to keep everything bottled up inside. I thought if I put on a smile and got on with my life, things would just get better. But it didn’t, it was hard. There were so many triggers, so many little moments that would ruin my day.
The Irony of this Post
It’s almost ironic writing this post now because I am so incredibly happy and head over heels in love. Although, I honestly wondered for so long if I would ever be ready to open my heart again to love.
Rewind to almost 5 years ago
I had just moved to Ottawa and didn’t know many people. I hadn’t started my business yet, as I was pursuing a graduate degree. I was fresh out of university, having the time of my life. I began dating a guy shortly after moving here. The guy that many people warn you about, the guy you want to change for you. Our “relationship” lasted about 3 years on and off, and honestly, I felt like I had completely lost myself through this time. I became obsessive with my body image. I became paranoid about not being with him, because I had absolutely no trust in him.
I was trying to build my business but constantly worrying about where he was and what he was doing. I was trapped in this vicious circle of lies and manipulation and felt like I knew I had to get out. But, I had this tiny, tiny bit of hope that something would change. Or, if I had made an attempt to leave, I was always manipulated back into staying. I had found out numerous times that he was unfaithful. I had women messaging me on social media to tell me that they believed we were dating the same person. I even came home to another woman on his front step one night.
It was like I was living in a nightmare that I couldn’t get out of
I am a strong, confident woman and I knew deep down I deserved more. I had just been so manipulated for so long, that I didn’t believe in myself through this time. I felt worthless and defeated, I was exhausted and emotionally drained. I have never cried so much as I had in those 3 years and I was never a crier. I had so many red flags and warning signs many times. My friends and family were worried for me and I just couldn’t leave. I had done a lot of reading on unhealthy relationships and many articles talked about how leaving a toxic relationship was very hard. Because the harder you tried, the more you become manipulated and emotionally exhausted and conflicted. You are being told everything you want to hear, to get you stay.
You believe it and you stay, in hopes things get better, but deep down you know they won’t
Things would be amazing for a little while. And then, they would get even worse than the time before. This is unfortunately how the cycle continued for 3 years.
It dawned on me one day that, “was I really going to let this be my life?” I had known from the beginning that I didn’t see it lasting and I could never imagine my future like this. I wanted to be a strong, successful, independent woman and I felt like I was failing. I was constantly exhausted. There were times where I would be at a wedding and have another woman message me about dating my boyfriend. I had to sneak out and collect myself to even be able to continue through the day. It was incredibly hard to put on a smile and be a part of gorgeous wedding days. Seeing so many of my amazing couples so happy and in love, was inspiring, yet heartbreaking. I went to each and every consult or wedding wondering if I would ever have a love like that.
The Angry Phase
I came home from tearing down a wedding one night after finding out some new information. At this point, this just set me over the top. I had finally reached the “angry phase”. One of my girlfriends had told me that once I reached the “angry phase” I would be done and oh my gosh, was I ever. I was so angry at him for hurting so many other women, including myself. I was even more angry because this had now affected how I felt at weddings. During this time, my business/weddings were the only thing that I felt like were MINE. I felt like he was robbing me of that.
I was angry at myself for wasting my time and emotions on someone who clearly didn’t care. Being angry allowed me to finally close the door. To block him, and move on, and at that time I had no idea how I would move forward. I was patient with myself and took it day by day. I dove headfirst into my business and focused all over my energy on that.
My business was my main focus during this rebuilding time
I worked on building my brand and serving my couples the best I could. I continued to work out, have girl time, travel, and I fell in love with myself again. I gave myself grace when I would have hard days or have “trigger moments”. These happened a lot for the first while. I couldn’t even go to a certain gym because some of the other women were there and it put me in such a bad headspace. I honestly contemplated moving somewhere new to have a fresh start and a clear mind, but I struggled because I loved Ottawa so much. I had started to finally establish my business here and I wasn’t ready to start over again.
About 6 months later
I finally felt like myself again, I was happy being alone, I had learned so much about myself, and I was really excited about where my business was at. My girlfriends kept telling me I should start dating again and I was a bit hesitant obviously, but I also knew I did want to really fall in love and share my life with someone. I went on a few dates and came to the conclusion that I would rather spend my free time building my business and continuing to grow and be happy by myself.
Well I had no idea that my world was about to turn upside down, in the best way possible. I’ll never forget the day Justin messaged me on Instagram. I had followed him earlier that day. He was a Police Officer in the town I grew up in back in Nova Scotia, but we had never met each other. I thought he was so handsome, so while at the spa that day, I thought… “why not follow him?!” I was insanely giddy when he followed me back and proceeded to send me a message. We talked until very late in the night and I had the craziest butterflies and finally felt excited again. I’m getting those butterflies all over again typing this.
Eeeek, that was the best day.
We texted and Facetimed for about 2 weeks when he jokingly said, “maybe I’ll buy a plane ticket to come to Ottawa to meet you”, I immediately thought, “no way, this guy wants to fly here to come and meet me” … A few days later, he brought it up again and then proceeded to BOOK the plane ticket. I had never been so excited, but so incredibly nervous at the same time. Fast forward a week later, I felt so nauseous on my way to the airport to pick him up I was THAT nervous. I had butterflies like never before and I was praying we would get along for at least the 6 days he was here (yes, he booked his ticket for 6 days!!).
The Man of My Dreams
He walked down the escalator at the airport, and I knew I had just met the man of my dreams. I gave him a huge hug and we instantly clicked. I truly believe in love at first sight and honestly the way my heart wanted to jump out of my chest when I first saw him was insane. From our first date to now, every day with him has been so easy and full of love. We immediately had such an undeniable connection; it honestly feels like we have been dating for forever. We ended up doing long distance for almost a year, but I truly believe it made our relationship stronger and has made the foundation of our relationship so solid. I’m so happy that he’s joined me in Ottawa now and we have settled in our new home.
He has always made me and our relationship a priority like no other and it is crazy, but from that very first day I texted with him, I trusted him. My therapist was right, there has never been a day where I have had any doubt in him, or in us and my goodness, it is the BEST feeling. I am so grateful for his love and respect for me and for the love he has for my family.
I look back now and wonder why I didn’t run from my previous relationship, when I had so many obvious doubts, but I honestly wouldn’t change a thing because it has shaped me into the woman I am today, and I ended up finding my soulmate.
Everything truly does happen for a reason and you do need to trust in the timing of your life
For those of you reading this that can resonate with my story, I hope that you too have found your happily ever after. And for those of you reading this, still trapped in that relationship, know that you deserve better and that you need to trust your gut. If you feel that you are in an unhealthy relationship, you definitely are. You should not be feeling betrayed or manipulated. You deserve to feel loved and appreciated every day and I whole heartedly believe that.
Thank you, Justin, for opening my heart to love again and for loving me every single day. I love you!
I’ve attached an article here that I really resonated with while I was going through my hard time. Check it out if you are trying to let go of a toxic relationship.
Be kind to your heart if you are in a time of grieving. You will get through this, stronger than ever and your heart will heal. Remember, you deserve the absolute best.
I hope that this post can help at least one person. Xo