Happy Friday, all! This week one of my good friends, Haley, did us all a favor and wrote a post. And it’s a good one. Every now and then we have a really well-written, serious post. This is one of those, and it’s definitely worth a read. It could help you or someone you know. Read on.
Haley Mueckenhoff is nineteen (almost twenty!) years old and living in Peoria, Illinois. She is attending Bradley University and is studying Middle School Education with a concentration in English. She loves coffee, every single cat in the world, tattoos, Panda Express, and color coordinating everything she possibly can.
Three Years Later
If you would have asked me three years ago what a “dream relationship” looked like in my mind, I would have answered with, “Well, hopefully we would go on a lot of cute dates, the kind you see in movies. My parents would love him and always invite him over for dinner. We would always be loyal to each other, and we would rarely fight about big things. And most importantly, we would trust and support each other.” Three years ago (and still today), that was the dream. Three years ago, I thought I had just that.
For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of the perfect relationship. In high school, I wanted to find the guy that would come to my door with flowers, shake my dad’s hand, and drop me off exactly at 10:00pm later that night when it was curfew. So, when I began my first serious relationship in high school, I was excited because I thought everything was perfect, like in my dreams. I felt like I was in a movie. And don’t get me wrong– it was like a movie for some time. I was happy, we went on cute dates, and I had my first real kiss.
Reflecting on the last few years of my life, what I regret the most is not leaving this relationship the second I knew we stopped growing together, when I knew I was no longer happy, and when I stopped feeling supported. I ignored the warning signs, in hopes that my relationship would somehow magically change for the better overnight. I isolated, became attached to my phone, and constantly tore myself down. I lost weight, stopped talking about what I was passionate about, and blamed myself for things that were never my fault. I cried myself to sleep more nights than I care to admit, and I became cold towards everyone in my life. I lost close friends, got into many arguments at home, and constantly defended a relationship that was truly terrible for my emotional and physical health. My friends, family, and the adults I looked up to were worried about me, and although this is hindsight bias, I wish I would have worried more about myself, too. For over three years, this was an always consuming, upsetting, and scary part of my everyday life.
If you would have asked me three years ago if I thought I would ever be in an emotionally abusive relationship, I would have told you, “No WAY. I am way too smart, independent, and strong to get wrapped up in something like that.” Today, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I was, as well as embracing what I’ve learned about myself after leaving a relationship that was no longer making me happy or allowing me to grow. It is in no way an easy process, but I have learned so much about myself, and what I truly deserve in any relationship I have in the future.
Here are five things that I wrote and hung up in my room where I can see them every morning:
- Don’t settle for anything less than everything.
- Don’t let yesterday interfere with where you want to go today.
- It is NOT selfish to put yourself first. Your happiness is important.
- “Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo.” – Jon Sinclair
- You will be one of the best and most passionate teachers out there one day.
Although it’s not easy to admit that I lost myself for a while, and that sometimes I find myself still trying to put myself back together, I am so proud of myself and how far I’ve come with being independent, focusing on my friends, family, and future career here at Bradley. I’m in an amazing sisterhood, I have inspiring and supportive professors and friends, and I have a family who is always there for me, even though they’re three hours away. I now know I can still be that smart, independent, and strong woman WITHOUT being in a relationship, especially one where I was no longer flourishing.
If you or anyone you know is in an emotionally/physically abusive relationship of any kind, here are a few ways you can reach the The National Domestic Violence Hotline:
TOLL FREE PHONE: 800-799-7233 / 800-799-SAFE
I know Haley personally and I can attest to the fact that she is strong-willed and motivated, so you don’t have to be weak to be in an abusive relationship. Let’s stomp out that stereotype right now. Pay attention to the people around you, you never know who is struggling.
Thank you so much to Haley for writing this week, and to you guys for reading this week. It means a lot!
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!