Valerie S.

Growing up, my parents constantly enforced “treat others how you’d want to be treated.” Along with kindness, honesty, compassion, trust, forgiveness and understanding. My parents influenced my siblings and myself to place respect and equality upon every person we encountered, “we are all equal in the eyes of God.” Instilling such strong morals fortified the foundations of many relationships throughout my life. I’m going to tell you about a chapter in my life full of trials and tribulations that molded me into the person I am today. Let me take you back to the beginning of this “adventure” as it all starts in October of 2014.

I meet him, he was amazing, we held similar interests, he was smart, witty, career oriented. I mean he had so many amazing qualities, qualities that I had admired in my dad and dreamed of finding in my own partner one day. Upon our first instance of meeting, I knew I wanted to invest myself into him and learn all there was to learn. He reciprocated my enthusiasm and so our journey begins. Understanding that he worked in Northern California and I in Rialto we made it work, we supplied each other with endless conversations and affections, instantly I was hooked. Nurturing our new relationship, I aimed for growth and understanding of one another. With open hearts, we would sit together talking about all the things we dreamed to accomplish, life and our personal histories. One evening the question of our ex’s came up, he spoke his truth about his past, then it was my turn. Looking him in the eyes I said, “I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to feel stupid around your friends, I dated an acquaintance of yours, but it’s been over for years. I knew him from high school long before I knew who you were. I understand you guys have become quite close and I understand if you decide to end us. I’m telling you this because I must be completely honest with you. I want you to trust me always.” I noticed his hesitation, fearful of the answer but completely open I sat and waited. My anxiety crept upon me like the rapids in a river. Waiting, I could feel my heart pounding out of my chest, I couldn’t bear the silence for another instant. As if he could sense my dread, he tenderly reached for my hands and said, “I understand you have a past. I can’t judge you for that, but please tell me you don’t talk to him anymore?” I replied, “I don’t, I promise.” He held a look of slight hesitation, hiding it with a smirk he sarcastically said, “ok, I trust you.” Followed by a sincere,” Thank you for allowing me to know the truth.” We decided to pursue our relationship.

As a year had passed us by, we had worked continuously on us. Our love had been created on the foundation of the values I held so dear, we were on our path of growth. He seemed to be just as pleased as I. Believing all was well, his decision changed. He began to say the distance was too much for him and we needed a break, persistently I refused. I begged, “we’ve worked so hard to get us to where we’re at. Please don’t give up on us.” Hesitantly, he agreed to continue but his disposition was never as it was in the beginning. I noticed his insecurities, constant doubt and worry. I would get voicemails stating things he had herd from his friends or had seen online. I would settle his worry by reestablishing my values and allowing him to see my openness and honesty. I gave him any and all passwords, access to my phone, anything he desired I allowed. In doing so, I lost all individuality. As the list of accusations grew, the allowance of luxuries began to diminish as well. I no longer had a say in what I was able to do in fear of losing the man I loved. Engulfed in this toxic “love” I was now trapped, codependent and confused. As time passed us by and his authority intensified, I began to be viewed as incompetent, I was never doing things right, always at fault for something, constantly reminded of how much he was disgusted by me because I dated before him. Constantly accusing me, making me question myself. “who had I been in contact with to upset him? Did I like something on accident? What did I do?” he no longer trusted me, I was a liar, unworthy of his loyalty. I honestly believed he loved me. The emotional abuse began to take a toll on me, I was self-destructive needing constant reassurance that I was enough to satisfy him. I didn’t receive it; he would follow with a punishment; he would go weeks without talking to me all for me to learn my place in the relationship. With his actions he created insecurities and anger on my end. Resulting in me questioning, “am I not enough to make him happy?” this frame of mind was my constant throughout the relationship.

As the years sluggishly passed us by my discord had become evident, I began to pull away. He found a way to make us better, he moved back home. Reducing his rigid hold on me, we really began to connect and enjoy each other, a fresh start. Well with him being home, I got pregnant. I had never seen him so scared and angry. He began questioning, how far along I was, was it his, how am I sure I knew it was his, can he trust me? his same issues began to resurface, he broke up with me and stopped contact. Broken hearted and confused I didn’t understand why he never believed me, I was loyal, honest, I accepted him and all his flaws, why could he not love me the same way I loved him?  I knew that I couldn’t change his mind, I was on my own. I could not relinquish my connection to him, I maintained hopes he would change his mind. About a month into my pregnancy I received a message, it was him! in hopes he’d finally come to terms allowing us to be a family. Anxiously I opened the message, “just get an abortion, me and you both aren’t ready for a baby!” engulfed with anger and disbelief I cut contact and continued life.

At about 3 months into my pregnancy my sister called, she needed to move back to California. She was pregnant and a string of misfortunes followed behind her, my house wasn’t ready, I needed to renovate to prepare for the babies. In doing so, the physical and mental stress I put myself through caused me to lose my baby. I texted him, I could hardly see the letters on my screen through my tears as I wrote, “hey, I know you don’t want anything to do with us, but somethings happened. I’m at the doctors right now. I can’t stop bleeding; they did an ultrasound and can’t find a heartbeat. I’m sorry.” he came over immediately to comfort me. In my heart break longing for the love I so desperately lacked, we got back together. Unspoken, to him this was a blessing, to me, the biggest heartbreak I have ever experienced. I struggled hard with my mental health. I couldn’t bring myself out of the depression. Breaking every ounce of self-worth I had left, battering myself with hateful thoughts, “I wasn’t enough. Love will never exist for me. If I had not have opened my mouth none of this would have happened.” all my core values I held so dear were nonexistent. I was numbly floating through life, getting into trouble just to feel, I turned into the person I hated the most. I was just like him. I kept down my dark path, slipping deeper into the dark empty abyss, I could no longer breathe. I was destroying myself. It wasn’t until I facetimed my dad, he was a naval Seabee doing a tour in Africa, I told him everything, the words pouring out of my mouth incoherently and jumbled, I just cried. All the pain, anger and hate I felt for myself came out. My dad, somehow understanding everything blubbered to him told me, “Mija, you can’t fix everyone, you’re not supposed to. Sometimes people come into your life just to make a mess of it’s because they’re lacking the light you hold. That guy is a piece of shit, if I were home things would have been completely different. I’m sorry baby. Don’t lose who you once were because someone says that’s not the right thing to be. Your unique beautiful and strong. Its ok to cry and be hurt, its human, please don’t give up on who you are. Did you hear me? Do not give up!” As we ended our call all I could do was long for my dad’s embrace. I cried for weeks after but the compassion and forgiveness my dad made me feel was something that sparked a fire in me, I knew what I had to do. I had to place value in myself.

  Yes, I was hurt but I was not dead, I needed to release all that anger inside of me, I needed to focus all my anger towards something productive. I began to work on myself. I realized the fact that god allowed me to be a momma even for just those short 3 months was a blessing. I held life; it wasn’t my fault. I had to do what was necessary to get my sister home and safe. I began to work on my mental health completely relearning to love myself, forgive myself, be honest, hold compassion and I ended my self-hatred. I knew I needed to be open with my struggle and allow my family to help guide me in the healing process I so desperately needed. I was finally entering a stable mental state. By this time, it’s 2017, my progression has flourished and here he comes. He reaches out to me, “hey I know its been a while, how are you? I miss you, us. I know I was a piece of shit before, but I’ve changed. I’ve been working on myself and I feel we have a lot of things we need to talk about, want to go get food and talk?” I thought to myself, “I could handle this obstacle” believing in my progress, I accepted his invitation. He did seem different; he had changed in the 7 months we’d been separated. Convincing me he would be compromising and honest, he got me back.

Its New Year’s Eve, he had had too much to drink and he began to ramble incoherently, in those rambles he said, “I know you weren’t “pregnant” you were just doing it for attention because I was ready to leave you”. Standing there dumbfounded I stared at him, all my anger rumbling inside of me like a volcano ready to erupt, it built such an intensity that I could no longer bare to contain it. I exploded, striking him with every ounce of strength in my being, not allowing him to gain his balance I pushed him onto the floor and released every ounce of hate and disgust I held in me. The realization of our moral divide was largely evident, we would never be in harmony. We were only with each other out of comfort now, neither of us could bring ourselves to walk away. He never again spoke of my child. Holding resentment towards him I removed my presence in the relationship. No longer feeling the need to give myself to him, my values were just that, mine. I knew I had to build myself further. I stopped worrying and began to live. As I progressed through life and he remained stagnant, he became a bitter person, resenting me for applying for college, working out and eating healthy. He would purposely try and sabotage my success.  His tactics no longer worked I was no longer codependent. If he wanted to leave, ok. I had bigger things to worry about. Enrolled in college and maintaining my health, I was focused on me. One night I had asked if he would go on a drive with me. We had been in a relatively good place for the last couple weeks, he was fixated on his new car, I on school. He agreed and requested our favorite spot. We took the long winding road up the hill sat out on our blanket and just gazed onto the stars. After some time sitting quietly, I restlessly stirred, I looked at him and whispered, “babe, the doctors think I have cancer. I don’t know what to do I’m scared.”  Responding slowly as if he were digesting what I had whispered to him, he said, “do you think it’s contagious?” following with an enthusiastic “Hey babe you think you could open a gym membership for me? I don’t want to have to pay for it.” I just stared at him in disbelief, he completely dismissed me. I repeated myself in a firmer assertive tone, “the doctors think I might have cancer and that’s how your respond?!” he stared at me questioningly, “so no gym?” I quietly got up, walked to my car and drove away.  As he grew smaller in my rear-view mirrors my voicemail inbox filled. As a rush of emotion flooded my body, I began to feel a strange sensation I had never felt before. I was ecstatic, I no longer needed his validation. I received it the moment he disregarded the life of myself and my child. Knowing I should have been long gone years ago, this was my changing tide. I made a promise to myself that I would never go back. I began to intensify my investments in myself. I submerged myself in my schooling, taking pride in my work ethic. I made my life matter to me again, I realized I was put on this earth to be exactly who I am, my values allowed for me to hold myself to a higher standard and stop looking back at those who took advantage of me. I learned what love really is. Love is me. It is the rawest form I can give myself. Although, I am still a work in progress, I am no longer broken, codependent, angry and empty. I now have compassion for myself, I am forgiving, I build my ego and confidence daily. There is nothing I cannot achieve. I will always be selfless, compassionate, loving and forgiving

Investing morals into yourself is something that has often been neglected. From my experience we get so caught up in how others perceive us, we often lose the individuality that makes us so great. We forget to take the time to build and tend our self-love, respect and self-awareness. Which renders us vulnerable to the ills of the vindictive. Learning this lesson has made me come to the realization that I am a work in progress, but I love who I am becoming. To my parents, thank you for raising me with such high standards and being my strength when I had nothing left. To the unnamed man, thank you for allowing me to see how deep my love could go, how deeply I could feel and ultimately how strong I am, you allowed me to learn a lesson I would have otherwise never had learned.