I ended up in a relationship with a toxic and abusive older man during my mid-twenties. Although the experience taught me lessons I have carried with me, the healing journey has been a long, exhausting, and brutal one.
Below is what I would have written to my younger self, and the warning I would have given her.
You believe that you just met the love of your life… your soulmate.
If I were to ask you right now how you felt about this man, you would tell me that you love him so much and that he is everything you have been waiting for. When you are away from him, you would tell me that it feels like your chest will explode, and your heart will shatter into a million pieces. His words are the sweetest ones you have ever heard, and it feels like they were curated for your ears and your ears alone.
Your life is about to change forever, but not in the way you believe it will.
My heart aches for you because you have no idea what’s coming. The screaming, the anger, the pure evil you have only read about in the storybooks… is about to reveal itself to you in the form of the man you love.
You will leave this relationship a completely different person. The lesson will clarify that not everyone is good at their core, and that is something I wish you had been taught. If you had, perhaps you wouldn’t have invested precious time into someone who will never change.
Eventually, you’ll muster up the courage to walk away from the narcissistic abuse and claim back the life this man almost sucked out of you.
That is not the end of your struggle… for a long time. It’s going to be very hard. There will be nights when you would rather choose death than walk away. Ultimately this is from the trauma bond. Nonetheless, it makes the overwhelming feelings no less powerful.
Days will pass when you wonder if you exaggerated what happened, or you will try to convince yourself that it wasn’t that bad, only to reflect on your own words and see the pain written on the paper. You will curse this man for bringing about the loss of your innocence and destroying your belief that everyone is good at their core.
There will come a point when this experience feels like it happened in another lifetime. The memories will no longer spring instantly into your head, and it will become baffling that you could have ever let someone treat you in such a horrific way.
You will spend time alone, begin healing from your childhood trauma and codependency, and create a life with the best partner you could ever have imagined.
As you begin spreading awareness about your experiences, your stories will help others, and you can look at the experience from a new lens.
Keep your head up, my love, and know that although this journey won’t be easy, you will become much stronger on the other side.
Your future self