Emotional abuse is just as painful. 

When I was younger I heard people speak about my mum. How ‘beautiful’ and ‘youthful’ and ‘relaxed’ she was. I always wondered what had happened to her as I watched her battle with her own self esteem, anger and anxiety.

I didn’t realise till I was a bit older, that she was in an abusive relationship. I didn’t understand that the fighting and comments weren’t normal. That the things being thrown at my mum, the pushing and the violence was wrong.

After seeing the abusive man my father turned into after a few drinks I was clear of one thing; I would never be with someone like him and I would never let myself get treated how my mother and her children did for years.

But what I never realised was how easy it is to get yourself into a situation like that. That sometimes those things follow months of happiness and love.

When I was 16 I thought I’d found ‘the one’ as most of us do, I was young and in love and completely intoxicated by him in every way.

But one day, he started checking my phone, mostly when I wasn’t in the room. I didn’t think much of it until he was forcing me to block people I had been friends with for years because they had made me smile more than he had. He talked shit about everyone I loved and told me lies about things they had said to try and turn me against them.

It became a routine, that he would check my phone regularly but after a while I would just hand it over after his commands.  I was so scared I had done something wrong, I withdrew from every body so there wasn’t a chance of it. I was frightened another day would end in hours of me being guilt tripped or ignored. Or that I would lose him. I ended up making another Facebook account (or being forced to) in which he chose who I could add. He’d come to my work before I finished to check I wasn’t talking to guys. And if he caught me talking for more than 5 seconds to someone of the opposite sex I would be interrogated about it for days.

A few times he told me I couldn’t go into work, if I did I didn’t love him and there was no point me even staying. I rang up and lied. I was then scared of getting into trouble at work.

I was predicted A*A*A for my final year at college, I did well and had unconditional offers (one of which I took) but I didn’t get these results because I was more bothered about him. I didn’t have time to concentrate on my work or my own life.

I was doing his college work for him, (you’re welcome for the entire essay I did for you on witchcraft even though I didn’t study it). Most days he would ignore me for hours and hours to be on his computer (everyone needs there space but I was afraid to even speak in case I upset him) He’d do this until we went to bed or he needed me to do something. If I spoke I was in the wrong, if I complained I was in the wrong. Everything was my fault.

I  was going to the shop to buy him snacks at the click of his finger. Most days he refused to come with me and even kicked me out of his house once because I told him I wouldn’t. He would leave me in places I couldn’t get back from late at night, so I would have to walk miles alone in the dark just because he’d decided ‘he didn’t want me there anymore’.

Things got worse to the point where he was pushing me to dress in a certain way and telling me he didn’t like certain aspects of my appearance, forcing me to take out my piercings and ‘dress more feminine’.  He told me I needed to lose weight and said I ‘should just stop eating.’ At this point I was 18 years old, suffering from the same self esteem issues as any other teenager so hearing comments like this constantly down your ear is heartbreaking. But I still stayed.

Towards the end he would make comments about our sex life and I felt guilt tripped into doing things with him whenever he wanted it. It was never my choice. He knew I didn’t want to but that didn’t matter. It should have mattered and I should have said no. It wasn’t always like this, so I thought it was normal to feel like you had to do these things. But I didn’t love him anymore so it was all for him. I was just afraid of upsetting him and I didn’t think I could make it on my own.

He broke up with me on my 18th birthday 10 minutes in, but came crawling back when I found someone new.

I took him back.

I like to think people can change but everything he said to me, every apology was a lie.

It all got worse.

I could go on forever about the psychological abuse and things he guilt tripped me into doing, the hours I spent trying to be someone I wasn’t because I didn’t feel like anything I did was ok anymore, but some things don’t need to be told.

The night it all clicked was when he said to me ‘I really wanted to hit you before, I was so close’. It was everything I needed to hear in order to walk away.

Its been two years since then and I can honestly say I’ve only just come to terms with it all. I thought I was over it and if people asked me I probably would have said I was, but I was blocking out the anger and sadness I felt towards this part of my life without realising how much it was affecting me.

It’s taken another relationship which I will forever be grateful for because honestly it saved me. I realised what being in a relationship was supposed to be like and that everything I put up with was not okay. My last ex will always hold a place in my heart for the endless nights he put up with my tears because of abuse I suffered before him and for showing me what love actually is. (If you happen to hear about this or read it,  you will know who you are, thank you always).

For people that know me reading this, you know how confident I am. I look and say what I want most of the time, this is why so many people asked me ‘why did you stay?’ Or ‘why did you never talk to me about it?’ I usually joke and say ‘because I was a prick’ but honestly I was scared, in love and I didn’t even realise what he was doing was wrong.

I lost a lot of friends along the way, as I distanced myself from people. Through fear of the arguments and abuse my friendships caused. Through apprehension that somehow they would end up getting hurt too and would somehow end up tangled up in the situation I had gotten into. So I’m sorry if you were one of these people. I’m sorry if something we had was lost because I didn’t fight for it.

I wanted to make this blog to try and help people, but it seems I’ve mostly just written about my story which honestly has probably only helped me by getting it off my chest.

But to anyone reading this who may feel like they’re in a similar situation and is scared, there is a way out. Even if you talk to a friend or family member it can help.  I was too scared to do this for so long because I was afraid of the truth. Afraid I would make him look bad (Haha).

But when I finally reached out just hearing people tell me it was wrong, tell me I deserved more and them giving me a safe place to talk and cry helped me come to terms with what I had been through.

I promise you can live without him (or her). You can be safe and happy. And you can have a life of your own.

Most importantly you may not even realise you are in a toxic and ‘abusive relationship’ because a lot of the time when you hear this term you think of a victim with bruises and violence. But emotional abuse is so real and hurtful too. It can create so many issues with your confidence, mental health and you never know what’s going to be the next step.

The recovery after is hard, I’m not going to lie and in some way I will probably always be affected by all of this when it comes to relationships but I know it wasn’t my fault and I always try and remember this in the choices I now make. I’ve been guilty of acting in ways or repeating behaviours that I shouldn’t have because I thought they were normal.

I control every aspect of my appearance now and I try new things for me and only me. But when someone makes a similar remark about something I once heard off him, it can still affect me. I suffer from low self esteem some days, I find it hard to trust people and I still often let myself get treated badly by people because I’ve never known any different, but I’m working on it.

I am hoping this experience will help me to support others in similar situations whilst taking on the role as Women’s Officer of my university this year.

A little message for this ex- Don’t worry dick head, I’ve remembered how amazing I am.

I’ve put a couple of useful links below (how to spot the signs of abuse and getting help). As I’ve not given a lot of actual information and I feel like these may have been a great help a couple of years ago for me:

http://liveboldandbloom.com/11/relationships/signs-of-emotional-abuse

http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/emotional-abuse.html

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm

https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2012/09/emotional-effects-abuse/

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Date yourself as well as your other half

So I obviously don’t mean change your relationship status to ‘in a relationship with myself’ or anything like that. I’m talking about the simple phrase ‘love yourself’ that is constantly thrown around these days. 

After splitting up with exs in the past, people always told me ‘you learn something from every person’ or ‘it’ll make your relationships stronger in the future’ and of course at the time you sit and nod (hiding the ever mounting tears) because they were your whole life and you don’t know what to do now you’re on your own. 

But that’s the problem. We are one person, we can surround ourselves with amazing magical people and that’s great, but ultimately we are alone. If you’re not happy with yourself how the hell are you gonna be happy with anyone else? 

We all have goals, ambitions and something we strive towards. But so often we put them on hold for stuff. Whether it’s to save money, find the time. We accept that sometimes things won’t happen instantly and we have to work towards it. But someone else, love, should never be a reason to stop trying to get there. 

It’s so easy to think now you’ve found someone that makes you happy right now, they will make you happy forever. That a settled life; the white picket fence and the kids playing in the garden sounds just fine. But you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, do you want to look back and say ‘I should have travelled’ or ‘I wish I’d taken that job’ or even simply ‘I wish I’d gone and looked at that other uni’ because you decided not to do any of these things because your partner didn’t seem happy about it or you wanted to work around their life and your life together. Dream big, if your significant other is ‘the one’ you’ll make it work. 

Don’t rearrange your life, your plans and your friggin’ dreams around anyone because as cheesy as it is we do only live once. We don’t get yesterday again and we never will. 

This is one thing I now realise I have learnt, one thing I will take into my next relationship or whatever lies round the corner for me. 

It’s hard to think like this when you become entangled in a relationship you think is your whole life. When you are encapsulated by a person so much you think they’re all you need. Well love them, enjoy your life together but enjoy yours separately. Because you’ll find yourself slipping away from being an individual and falling into the destructive path of being that couple that are just known for being a couple. 

Buy yourself flowers or jewellery, whatever it is you want. Go on long walks by yourself or with friends (those people you may have forgotten about by now), start drawing or painting. Get your hair cut how you want it. Go for that job interview that’s in another city because it’s important. Just as important as your relationship that you will make work anyway, anywhere. Give yourself all the love and care you give your partner. You should never ever treat them better than you treat yourself. Be selfish sometimes. Let them pick what you have for tea, but don’t let them change where you want to be in 10 years time. 

Love yourself. Date yourself. Just do you for you. And the right people will fit themselves into YOUR life. 

‘Keep on keeping on’

hairMy good friend Reece has been telling me this for a few weeks now. “Keep on keeping on.” I feel like I owe him more credit than ‘good friend’, hes fucking mint and totally on my level (sorry Reece).

When he first said it (probably in response to a breakdown I’d just had) I kinda just laughed it off. Infact I probably didn’t even manage that, I probably gave him some form of fake smile.

But as times carried on I basically realised… Well just that, it does go on.WAIT, time carries on?? As easy as it is to believe after something shit has happened or you’ve been down in the dumps for a while, that the world is officially going to end and all life as we know it stops. It doesnt. Life goes on. Time continues.

With or without you.

And that’s the big thing here. You either let whatever it is win, you get in the dumps (which you will for a while anyway) and stay there or you ‘keep on keeping on.’

But heres what ive been thinking about. Either way you do this, either way you live. But its how you choose to carry on, keep on, that’s all down to you.

So take all the fucking shit and negativity and just change it. It’ll seem so hard to do. So much easier to say, right? But just do it. Even if at first you dont want to, its awful, whatever, just do it. I’m convincing myself here too, dont worry.

Go on that holiday, start a blog, finish your essays, go to that life drawing art class youve always wanted to go to and start looking at more art, everywhere, because you want to pick up your paints again and think about the next cover you wanna do because its been so long since youve even sung. This is some of the things im doing. (You’re probably all much cooler than me).

Life is too short to not do what you want to do and be the person you are supposed to be.

Life is also really fucking scary and can change in any split second (honestly, I know) but dont be the coward that runs away. Grab it by the fucking balls and live. Deal with the consequences, the shit. It wont just disappear I’m afraid.

Dont be afraid of taking chances, dont be afraid of being wrong or changing your mind about a person, place or decision because we all fuck up sometimes.

Accept that, we can all be shit. We can all make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up about it because yesterday is history.

Im not saying you’re going to be magically better or not feel like shit 75% of the time but its a start. And I’m hoping everyone is right about ‘time being a healer’ because if not I’m totally fucked.

So I’m sorry Reece, I’ve decided I wont be using the phrase ‘keep on keeping on’ anymore, I wanna live and really live. I don’t just want to carry on because I have to. And maybe things will never be the way I want them, people may never come back or situations may get shitter but I’ll make the most of it. I’ll learn. ‘Grow through what you go through.’

I’m scared of my own feelings. I’m worried about the future. I’m hurt and afraid but I’m so ready to make new memories and figure out who the fuck I wanna be. Bring on the good and bad days. I’m sure there will be plenty of both.

Stop with the fake bullshit

We’re all guilty of it. Putting up that picture so someone will see it. For the likes, for the support, to show everyone how friggin’ great our lives are?

But are they that great?

Probably not.

Or maybe I’m just a pessimist. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood. But honestly stop with all the bullshit posts. We masquerade all the crap we are going through with pictures of nights out. The ones we probably only went on for a temporary happiness fix.

With pictures of great holidays. The ones were now working our asses off to pay back as our overdrafts and bills pile up.

I love seeing my mates happy and knowing whats going on in peoples lives, because its hard to constantly be in touch with everyone and social media makes that a tad easier.

But don’t be that person that hides behind the mask, that posts the ‘happy pic’ of you and your boyfriend minutes after an argument because you want everything to be okay. You need it to be okay and if the world thinks its fine, it is, right?

Sometimes things are shit and its alright to share that with your friends. Its okay not to be okay. Post about it. Or don’t, but don’t pretend everything’s fine and dandy. Because maybe it’ll help someone. Maybe that person that craves your social media ‘perfect’ lifestyle needs to know they’re not alone with the bad days. And just maybe taking a break from pretending, will help you. You can actually find time to deal with the issues, reach out to people because you’re not hiding behind your fake life.

We all put the best of our lives on these sites, the person we want people to know us as, instead of the person we are. Why not, actually work on being that person? Take time to deal with the shit and better the good.

And don’t think because your mates getting 234 likes on their profile picture, going out boozing every night and sharing a load of pics of their new buys that they have the perfect life. Maybe they do, but most people have demons. Most people have some shit going down and that’s fine. Not everything you see of people online is real. A lot of it probably isn’t. They’re probably doing the same thing as the rest of us. Faking it.

Give it a break. GET REAL.