I haven’t wanted to talk about it publicly. I’m embarrassed. Ashamed even. Confused as to how it got to the point that it did. For the last few months, I have been dependent on someone who thought it was okay to treat me less than respectfully. And every time I stood up for myself, I got shut down.

When we met, everything seemed really good. We spent a whole lot of time together. He asked many questions. When I asked him why that was, he said that he asked questions because he didn’t think I talked enough and he wanted me to talk more. So, in the months that followed I let my guard down, and I shared with him things that I don’t usually tell a lot of people.

Over time, things started to change. It was subtle at first. He wasn’t as animated as he had been. He would talk to me differently, spending more time pointing out my flaws than my successes. And then he acted like he was in charge. It got to the point where I would leave conversations feeling like I had done something wrong, but it was rarely specific. He would tell me what he thought were flaws in general aspects of my personality. He started to make me doubt myself and would often say things to make me think that other people were against me. That rocked my world.

When it got bad I started to tell other people what was happening. Just to make sure I wasn’t crazy. It turns out that I wasn’t. Everyone I told didn’t like what was going on. They wanted me to be safe. They wanted me to have peace. And from the outside looking in, many people were convinced the only way that was going to happen was to get him out of my life and never see him again.

For a long time, I wasn’t ready. I wanted to give him a second chance. And then a third and what turned out to be a thousandth. I wasn’t ready to let go of who he had presented himself to be in the beginning, even though that was a far from what I experienced recently.

And then there came a day. The day. He reacted badly to something that was not my fault. Even he could admit that what had happened was not something I had done on purpose. And yet he reacted badly anyway. And made me feel like I had again done something wrong and like I was a bad person because this thing had happened that I could not have helped.

After he left, I started to think about all the times our interactions ended with me in tears and feeling like I had messed up or made a mistake when I knew that I had not.

It was time. Time to let him go for the sake of my sanity. Time to understand that things were not going to get better no matter how much I wanted them to. Time to have more compassion for myself in this situation than I did for the person who was being so disrespectful and unkind. Time to trust my inner strength and intuition that was letting me know that this scenario had to end. As much as it broke my heart, I told him we needed to go our separate ways.

He didn’t take it well. He cut me off from all social media and undid a very nice gesture that he had done for me several months ago…

And since he has been gone, numerous things have been hard in many ways. I have spent some sleepless nights feeling embarrassed and ashamed. Wondering how it all got to the point that it did. But a friend pointed something out to me this morning. Hanging on to a relationship because I wanted it to get better and because I had compassion for the other person is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. Strength of character. Strength of conviction (that people are good.) It takes strength to hope that all will be well in the end.

I didn’t put up with his behavior for months because I am weak or stupid. Instead, I tolerated it because I was strong enough to want it to change. It is that same strength that is helping me now. While I tell myself that my reality is solid, and I can believe what I know to be true. While my amazing support system is around me and I take the time I need to heal.

I let go of this relationship because, despite my best efforts, it was getting worse.

And I deserve better. Because I am strong!