My ex taught me to love myself
The first time my ex broke up with me, I thought it was the “worst thing in the world.” I made myself believe I wasn’t good enough for him, and I started questioning everything there was to question. I felt miserable, lonely, and not cared for. I had put myself into such a dark place, where I felt absolutely worthless. He pointed out all of my “faults”: I was too clingy, talked too much, and never gave him space—yet, I ignored the fact, and still tried to fight to get him back. I would always feel the need to justify my excuses for contacting him. I continued to feel hopeful that what he did was a mistake, and we would soon get back together at some point.
Now, try going through that the second time around with a few alterations.
After a few months went by, filled with my attempts to still make contact, my ex finally decided he wanted to get back together. I felt like I was dreaming, because I never imagined in a million years he would initiate the first move. He started to vent in ways in which I’d never seen from him before, and his vulnerable behavior towards me sparked my attention. After countless conversations and days of communicating, he finally said, “Well, my only focus is you, and getting to the next stage in my life.” Now, I just applaud his performance.
Our time apart from each other was astronomical. I learned so much about our relationship, and I was determined to improve those “faults” in which he mentioned to me earlier. I never called or texted him first—even if 2-4 days went by without any contact; I promised myself I would not be “that” girl. Getting back together with my ex felt normal, and just right. We kicked it off as if nothing had changed. We (again) spoke about the future, and where we saw ourselves, he would plan dates for us ahead of time and promised me he would make more of an effort in areas I was concerned with.
Until it happened again.
He disappeared, as if I were non-existent in his life (yet again). Our “normal” modes of non-communication which only happened a couple times a week, turned into once every four days. I started questioning everything, justified his behaviors, and created reasons for his excuses. When I brought up these issues, he stated (yet again): I was too clingy, held him back, and that I needed to be my own person. And that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was NOT clingy; I was NOT holding him back; and I WAS, in fact, my own person. Making an effort to see your significant other at least once a week, and hearing from him at least once or twice a day does not constitute as clingy. I completely focused all of my attention on him and did not stop for one second to think of my own needs. He implemented all of these horrible thoughts into my brain, making me believe that all of my caring attributes were inherently wrong, and I actually started to believe he was right. But, in retrospect, my ideas of what a relationship should consist of—communication, respect, and love—is okay. After he told me we were done, I noticed I did not beg for him back, and I did not reply to any more of his ruthless messages. At that point, I was mentally and emotionally drained.
I decided it was time to love and respect myself. I am not saying that getting back together with an ex (and making it work) is an unrealistic idea, but for me, it was eye-opening. As I took a step back and began to unravel the situation, I noticed that I’d actually become “that” girl: I completely put a halt on the real me to make someone else satisfied. I am a spastic-hyper-outgoing-nerdy-loving human being, and from this day forward, I refuse to allow others to change that. Through this experience, I learned that as individuals, we must allow ourselves to be honest to who we are, and we are more than what people try to make us feel. I am not going to alter myself for somebody who tries to recreate a “convenient me” for their own accommodation.
What YOU should take away from this is that, no matter how much we love someone, whether it’s a boyfriend, girlfriend, or friend, once they’ve crossed the line, we have to stick up for ourselves to know when to cut it off. There will always be a certain someone out there that will make you happier than you can handle. We are stronger than what we are perceived to be, and we cannot allow others to mask that. We should always love ourselves and know when we deserve better.
Ginger Clotfelter is currently a 24-year-old student at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she is studying English with a concentration in Media, Rhetoric, and Cultural Studies. Other than writing, her life consists of her friends, family, coffee, a good IPA, and, most importantly, her cat. Because she does not have a Twitter, you can follow her on Instagram, where she displays her daily life of adventures.
(Image via Beth Hoeckl.)