You Can’t Fix a TOXIC Relationship

I think we can all say that at some point in our life our significant other has raised their voices, lost their temper, or needed some space to clear their heads. You can see how upset they are in their eyes. Disappointed in their actions. Sad that a fight came down to yelling and screaming. But what if that yelling and screaming turned into pushing and shoving? Those upset eyes were filled with rage instead of tears. That rage and darkness overcomes your light and before you know it you are dancing with the devil. That is when a relationship becomes toxic, and believe me when I tell you theres no coming back from that.

He was prince charming. Handsome, full of compliments and gifts. He makes you feel like you are the most important thing in his life. You feel like you are the only one who will ever matter and no other woman ever compared to you.

Little did you know that so much bad will come along with the good. You can’t escape from something you didn’t even see coming and before you know it you are sucked into this cycle.

The kind words and compliments quickly turn into screaming matches. You feel guilty- “This is my fault. I shouldn’t have argued. I should have let him have that next drink. I should’t be so controlling. I shouldn’t feel so insecure.” You tried to understand and make it better, but the closer you got to him the further he went away from you.

Suddenly you realize that you are a puppet and he holds the strings. Every time you fell, he kicked you while you were down.

A cycle appears- You fight, punches thrown, things broken, he left. He reappears with the most sincere of apologies and every abusers favorite line –“I love you, it will never happen again.”  

We believe them and we forgive them. We forgive them because we feel bad for being angry in the first place. Remember, this was our fault. We don’t know that our forgiveness makes us look weak to them. It sends the message that he can continue to do exactly what he is doing without consequences.

When we are stuck in this cycle with someone so complicated you don’t realize the negative affect it has on us. We internalize, push away family and friends. You slowly want to just stay at home, after all how many times can you come up with cover stories when someone asks why you have bruises all over your arms.

What happened to the prince at the beginning of this “love” story? The man who was so sweet and caring? His kind and loving words have turned into terrible, degrading, insult filled rants followed by hollow apologies and empty promises.

Maybe you’ve been stuck in this cycle for so long that you feel a connection to him. That when things are calm it feels anything but normal. If he isn’t apologizing for all the fighting and professing his love for me then he doesn’t care right? You have become addicted to the cycle.

He knows everything about you. Your deepest secrets, Your biggest fears. He uses them to cripple you. Maybe thats why you stay. He has every tool to destroy you, and he will use them.

You don’t realize this but he isn’t going to destroy you in one shot, he will chip away at you little by little. He will break you slowly, bit by bit, over time.

You see, toxic people need others to validate their own self worth. They get high off of our pain. They can’t control their own miserable lives so they destroy ours.

I know how hard it is to leave a toxic relationship. I barley made it out. I know how it feels to have self doubt. I know the internal conflicts. You know he loves you deep down, you know that under all that evil the prince is still in there somewhere. I know that part of you doesn’t believe that you can make it without them because they have become the most important person in your life.

But I am here to tell you: You Can. 

You are strong. You are brave. You are brave enough to walk away and strong enough to ignore the phone calls and texts that will follow. You deserve better than the repeated build ups and break downs. That knot in the middle of your stomach will go away. The pain in your chest that feels like your heart is physically breaking will stop. By putting your foot down and saying enough is enough you are taking back control of your life. You are taking the first steps to getting YOU back.

I promise you, you will meet someone who is twice the man that he is. You will smile again and genuinely be happy. He WILL be the prince that every little girl dreams about. I can not wait for the day that I find mine.

“I remember the day I prayed for the things I have now.” I have peace and happiness. I have my strength back and I am brave. Most of all, I have the strength and courage to refuse any behaviors that don’t fall in line with what I want in a man.

You can too.

 

A Letter To My Best Friend…

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Best,

When I first met you I don’t think either of us knew the bond we would have today. That may be because I wanted to fight you, but either way I am so thankful for the friendship we have.

I love how we can go for weeks without seeing each other but the minute we are together it is like no time has passed. You literally know everything that happens in my life. What guy I’m thinking about pursuing to what stupid thing I did that day. You give the best pep talks when I am nervous before a date and encouragement when I am questioning my self worth.

You have been there for me through the good, bad, and ugly. You have seen me sobbing in tears on the floor to laughing so hard I almost pee my pants and have never judged me for it. We have the best memories and I can not wait to make more.

While we haven’t always supposed each others choices we are still there for each other no matter what.

When things fall apart we always help each other put everything back together.

You have stayed by my side through a very abusive relationship and almost losing my life. Even though I never told you the details until after I felt so safe knowing that even if I couldn’t tell you, you were still there no matter what. Judgement free.You helped me piece back together the pieces of my life and reminded me of how good of a woman I am. I know it was a huge shock and you felt almost betrayed that I didn’t tell you, but it was never about our friendship. It was about me being ashamed of what was going on. I am sorry I couldn’t tell you when I was going through it, but knowing that what I went through saved you pain and suffering completely made it worth it.

I hope that you know the beautiful and amazing person you are.

You are so smart, strong willed, and driven.

You deserve a man who supports and encourages you through everything in your life. While this year has been rough for you I can not wait until you meet the right man who deserves you. I can’t wait for you to introduce me to the actual man of your dreams, and I hope he loves you as much as I do. I hope he appreciates how much you love Mac Dre and how stubborn you are. You need a man who will dance and be wild with you, not control that part of you. That man, who I can’t wait to meet, will respect and cherish you.

You shouldn’t ever settle. You are one of the best people in this world.

I am so blessed to have you as my right hand. Thank you for always supporting me and being an amazing support system for Beau. I love you so much!

-Alyssa

A Letter To My Sisters…

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Sam and Gillian,

Being your big sister is one of the greatest blessings I have in my life. There is no one I would have rather grown up with, taught things to, or made memories with.

My love for you guys is unconditional and I hope you both know that no matter what happens in this life, you guys will always have me.

As your big sister it is my job to set the example of who to be and who not to be. I hope you guys learn from my mistakes and never settle. Never let a man put you below him or make you feel anything less than the most precious gift in his world. He should always respect you and encourage you.

You guys witnessed the scariest thing someone can go through. Watching me almost die couldn’t have been easy, but I hope you guys learned from that. I am so thankful for that at the same time. It has strengthened our bond and our family. You know now to never let a man take your strength away. Never give someone the power to take who YOU are away.

I hope you guys stay true to what you believe in and always strive to be the best you can be.

Don’t ever give up on your dreams, no matter how big. If you want to become a designer I will be the number one buyer. If you want to become a business owner I will be your number one customer. I will ALWAYS be your biggest fan.

I wish that you will always smile and know how beautiful you are. During the hardest time in my life you both were there to pick up the pieces. Literally picking me up, taking care of my child, helping me do the simplest things like wash my hair. You both were my strength when I didn’t have any left. You helped me find who I was again.

I wish you both realize the power you possess. You have the power to change the world, use it. You two are some of the most ambitious and inspiring people I know. Your drive and strength will take you as far as you wish to go in this life.

You have been the biggest help to me with my child. Stepping in so I can still have a social life. Watching him when I go to work so that I can provide a life for him. Being silly with him, but also stern when I need back up. He may not have a dad, but he does have the two best aunts any kid could have and that I am so thankful for.

I love you both more than you will ever know.

I am so proud to be your big sister.

-Alyssa

Dating In A “Hook Up” World…

We live in a society of revolving doors. Guys picking a new girl every time they change their underwear. What happened to courting someone? Going out on a few dates before hopping into bed with someone?  The worst part is that its not just men doing it to us, ladies we are doing it to ourselves.

We have lowered our standards immensely from the time that our parents dated.

We have gotten to a point where its okay to waste each others time. We date, get close with a person, then drop them as if they never existed.

We should want so much more than what we are settling for.

I want to get to talk and get to know you. Date nights and the awkward meeting of the families. I want to laugh with you and to earn trust. Most of all I want respect.

I want you to respect me enough to tell me what is going on. Be verbal with how you are feeling than actions to follow that. How are we supposed to know when a relationship is over when it never really started?

I know that I want an old fashioned kind of love. Where doors are opened, trust is earned, respect is given, and time is valued.

But now we have millions of people at our disposal every single day. Look at all the dating apps- if someone doesn’t look the way we like we just swipe left and then a millisecond later a new face appears on our phones. We judge everyone by their looks and not who they actually are.

We guard ourselves so much because of the fact that everyone views the other person as disposable. We never let our walls down. We don’t have real, deep, or meaningful conversations. I want to talk about your feelings, I want to know about your deepest darkest secrets and fears in life, your goals and where you see yourself in 10 years.

Instead we “talk” for a little while, a few months go by and then its the classic line of “I really like you a lot but I am not really interested in a relationship right now, but we can still hangout.” We refuse to put labels on our relationships. We hangout all the time, talk to each other every day, you can become intimate but no we are not boyfriend and girlfriend. God forbid anyone knows that either of us are off the market. We have to keep our options open incase someone better comes along. We might have to actually put someone else’s needs before our own? What a shocking concept.

What happened to opening doors, pulling out chairs, going on multiple dates, meeting families? Taking the actual steps of a relationship? Instead, we will go out to dinner, send these pictures of ourselves, hook up, and accept not being boyfriend and girlfriend. When did this lack of respect and fear of commitment become our new normal?

 

You Owe It To Yourself To Never Settle

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Everyone is settling. Thinking that because we hit a certain age we need to settle down and have children. We put this undeniable pressure on ourselves to do so. Settling down doesn’t have to mean settling for a bad man. We owe it to ourselves to wait for real, respectful, caring, genuine, and happy love.

We deserve someone who will make us see the world a little brighter than what it is. Someone who makes us feel safe and comforted. They can assure us without having to say it with words that they will always be there.

No matter what, you are always allowed to leave. If you ever find yourself in a relationship that starts to make you question your self worth-leave. It is okay to leave people who are holding you back, discouraging you from accomplishing your goals, or bringing you down. The person you are with should make you smile, not cry.

Dating in our generation is nothing more than a silly game. I don’t know how we went from our parents generation to ours. We hear of stories of our mothers being wined and dined, flowers bought, chairs being pulled out, flowers given. It sounds like a foreign land to us. How we went from that to a cheap dinner and “send me nudes” is beyond me. Or how about the late night text -“You up? Come over?”  Because that is exactly what I am going to do at 12am. Who is going to text who first? How many days should we wait in between phone calls? We don’t want to seem too needy, but still seem interested. What happened to respect? Not wasting each others time? Getting to know someone before getting in bed with them?

Don’t fall for someones charm and sweet words.

Don’t fall for someone just because they are giving you attention at the moment.

Don’t stay with someone just because you think you won’t be able to find someone better.

Don’t settle.

Fall for someone’s heart.

Fall for someone who motivates you and celebrates your achievements.

Fall for actions, not words.

Fall for someone who is going to stay.

It’s okay to forgive yourself for being human. We all have made mistakes and chose the wrong partner a few times, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for anything. Be kind to yourself. Don’t apologize for waking up and loving who you are. Look in that mirror and find yourself beautiful. A man that doesn’t respect you, doesn’t help you grow, or bring joy to your life isn’t the right one.

You owe it to yourself to never settle.

A Thank You Letter To My Abuser…

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I never thought I would be thanking you for the hell you put me through, I never thought I would be abused either, yet here we are. I am writing you this to let you know that besides Beau, you were the best thing to ever happen to me. I wouldn’t be the strong mother, friend, or advocate I am without you.

For the longest time I was so scared of you. Thinking you would be the monster under my bed at night. I knew every night I would go to sleep I would meet you there in my nightmares reliving the abuse I went through with you. I would literally wake up drenched in sweat, crying, being completely terrified of just the thought of you. I would sleep with the lights on just incase I saw you in my window, never sleeping with them open just incase you tried to break in. I was scared to go out in public. Circling every parking lot to look for any trace of you or your family. The humiliation your family caused me, saying I lied about it all. The rumors that flew around this tiny town about me were crippling. Now I just laugh.

While I absolutely despise you for everything you did to me, my family, my son, and even your family, I love that you helped me find myself. You made me become a fighter, an independent woman, and you pointed me in the direction to find my passion in life.

Domestic Violence is one of the worst and most feared things a woman can go through in her lifetime. You took away the happiest time in my life. A time where a woman is supposed to be the most respected and valued, you turned into hell. You made me fight for my life, you broke a lot of hearts, caused a lot of stress, and you caused my child to come prematurely. You would yell, scream, and break things. Push, hit, and force yourself upon me. You poisoned me and you almost successfully killed me. You had broken me. You are and will always be the person I hate the most, yet I am so thankful for that.

You showed me exactly who NOT to date. In fact, I want to date the exact opposite of you, though you didn’t set the bar very high. You showed me that a man doesn’t hurt the person they love, a child does. You were, and probably still are an alcoholic. You were never driven to succeed. I now look for strength in the man I am with. Someone who wants to succeed, build a life, and respects me. Someone who loves my family and wants to be a father figure to my child. Let that sink in, I want someone else to help me raise the child you fought me for, you know the one that “needs his daddy”. You never changed a diaper, fed him a bottle, or sat up all night crying with him. You haven’t taught him to swim, ride a bike, or to open a door for a woman. I have. My family has. I have taught him to thank police officers, firefighters, and any military member. I have taught him to say please and thank you. I am teaching him exactly how to not be the man that you are.

By showing me what love was not, you taught me what love is. I am not just talking about relationships either, I mean in everyday life. I appreciate my family so much more. They have stepped up and all taken a huge roll in Beau’s life to fill the void that you left. Everyone of them has taken on a roll in raising him. He thankfully does’t have you, but he has one hell of a team behind him. I appreciate my friends more than ever. The true friends that have stuck by me through the hell of a life I lived with you and are still here today, watching me succeed. Those people are the ones you were trying to take me away from. By attempting to do that you have shown me who my real supporters are. I know who will stick by my side no matter what.

You lit a fire in me. By destroying me you forced me to rebuild myself. I am back stronger than ever. By crushing my self confidence I was able to find out what makes me feel empowered. I want to thank you for that.  You always blamed me for your drinking, anger, and resentment. By having all of those blow out, abusive attacks you taught me patience and how to remain calm in hostile situations.

Thank you for making me less trusting. Before you I would trust everyone, believing that everyone was caring and genuine, now I know that some people aren’t. I know to believe someone when they show me their true colors the first time. Trust actions, not words. If someone disrespects me its not because they are having a bad day, its because they don’t value and respect me enough to treat me the correct way.

Lastly, this is not an invitation to come back, call, email, or contact me in anyway. This is not me forgetting what you put me though or letting it go. This is for me to show you how amazing my life is without you. A small glimpse of the amazing life my child has. I am happy, truly happy. Happy just being me, single, full of love, and having tons of support. I love my family and I love the family my child has. While yours has zero involvement, that leaves room for future family members and more love for Beau. I hate the fact that you put me through so much pain, but I love the person I am today because of it.

Without love,

Alyssa

25 Things I learned by 25

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When I turned 25 I had a sort of mid- mid life crisis. I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life. I was still working on recovering emotionally from a very abusive relationship, balancing trying to be a single mom yet still have some sort of a social life. I think in the past year I grew so much emotionally. I am more thankful now than ever for my struggle because it lead me to all of you.

Here are the lessons I have learned by 25:

1)  Love yourself first- This one was huge for me. I never felt as though I was skinny enough, pretty enough, or good enough after leaving my abusive relationship. That lack of self confidence leaked over into my new relationships, work, even friendships. I wouldn’t want to go out and do things because I felt so terrible. I would constantly second guess myself at work thinking I wasn’t doing a good enough job. Leaving an abusive relationship where someone has completely taken  the love you had for yourself away really damages a person. You start to neglect yourself. Remember to always love yourself- you come first. You can’t be the best mom, sister, daughter, friend, or employee if you don’t.

2) Stop Over-thinking- When we over think we manifest problems that aren’t even there. We create these massive “what if” situations in our head that just create more anxiety than we already have. Living with those “what if’s” is a very painful way to walk through life.

3) Wear Sunscreen, take care of your skin, moisturize–  I didn’t really learn this until I started working at a dermatology office. I was a sun worshiper-tanning beds, outside, laying out- you name it. I never wore sunscreen, rarely even really washed my face, never moisturized. I started seeing patients come in with all of these sun spots, wrinkles, SKIN CANCER, and I completely changed my ways. Your skin will always tell your age if you don’t take care of it.

4) Always forgive, but never forget– Forgiveness is a huge part of emotional growth. Forgiving my abuser felt as though I lost a 50 lb. weight I was carrying on my chest. I had so much hate, resentment, and emotional baggage built up that I would unload on anyone who messed with me. Who ever hurt you doesn’t care about the pain they caused, they aren’t carrying around the burden- you are. Forgive them. Don’t forget the lesson you learned. Don’t put yourself in the position to let that happen again. Every failed situation is a life lesson.

5) Believe the actions people show you, not the words they speak– It’s important to understand that everyone was raised differently and have different definitions of respect. Good character and a good moral compass are very hard to come by. The fact of the matter is if someone values you, they will show it. If they care, you will know.

6) If you want something bad enough, you will make it happen– Your true passions will always make their way to the surface. Work your ass off to put the pieces together, make moves, and watch it all fall together. If you sit and do nothing you aren’t working toward making those passions a reality.

7) Never underestimate the power of music, laughter, and good friends– Sometimes on a really bad day all your need is some music, your best friends, and a good drink.

8) Happiness starts with you– If you aren’t happy internally then you aren’t ever going to be happy with anything in your life. Another person won’t change that, a new town won’t change that, and a new job won’t change that.

9) Crying is okay – Let it out, you will feel better.

10) You can always change your path in life – If you aren’t happy with your job, your friends, or a relationship- leave. So many people are settling with an okay life, DON’T.

11) Trust- Let people in, sometimes they will surprise you.

12) Don’t take things too seriously– Laugh, joke, make a fool of yourself. It’s okay to be a little childish every once in a while.

13) Talk to strangers– This is where I love my job the most. I meet new people every day. I love the random conversation, advice, and laughter. For some reason whenever I meet someone they tell me the most amazing stories. Where they came from, what they want to change, why they are changing. They could come in completely stressed and frazzled and they leave with a smile on. Someones people need to unload- be that understanding person. You can learn from anyone, anywhere. At the gas station, food shopping, even walking around.

14) Travel- You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to go to a different country. You can travel to a new nearby town, a city close by. If you have the money and the PTO by all means take it! You won’t regret it.

15) Find a creative outlet– Ride a bike, write, take pictures, crafts, paint. Do whatever calms you down. It will give you a period of time to escape from the stresses of the outside world.

16) Be Real– I couldn’t hide how I am feeling if my life depended on it. My face will always give it away. If I like you, you’ll know it. If I don’t, you will know why. People may see this as being harsh but its better than being fake and lying to people.

17) STOP APOLOGIZING– I would constantly say sorry to people. Someone was blocking the isle at the store “oh excuse me, sorry”, someone was giving me advice “Oh I’m sorry”, someone didn’t like what I was wearing I would apologize and change. There is a time and place to be truly apologetic. Don’t take away the authenticity of the words.

18) Love hard– My heart has been broken a few times in my life, but once I care about you, you are locked in my heart forever. I would go to hell and back for my friends and family. Love genuinely and love with all your heart. The people who you actually let in will deserve that love and cherish it.

19) Tell your friend and family you love them and tell them often– This has taken me longer to learn for some reason. I thought being vulnerable and saying you loved someone was weak and ridiculous. Yea I would tell my family I loved them here and there but not near enough. I almost lost my life and the last real conversation with my mom was an argument. Don’t miss a chance to tell them you love them- you won’t always get another chance.

20) Say sorry when you need to,and mean it- SOOO many arguments can be solved by just apologizing for what hurt the other person. Validate and appreciate their feelings. They are hurt because of something you did, don’t tell them they are wrong.

21) EAT THE FOOD– Starving yourself isn’t a diet, believe me. You gain it all back. Stop with the crash dieting and skipping meals, all you are doing is slowing down your metabolism. Eat healthy and eat often.

22) Age doesn’t equal life experience– I have experienced a lot of major life events before I turned 25. While wisdom does come with age, experience is different. You can learn more from a young person who has gone through life’s up’s and down’s than an older person who has had an easy life.

23) Appreciate your fears, then over come them– This may sound absolutely ridiculous but after leaving R I was afraid to be anywhere in the dark alone. The sun set and that was it for Alyssa being outside. I slept with my lights on the brighter side of dimmed, I refused to walk to my car IN THE DRIVEWAY alone, in fear that I wouldn’t be able to see him lurking around the corner. But slowly I have gotten over those fears.

24) Don’t follow the norm– When I was younger I had this life plan for myself. Married by 22, 2-3 kids done by 28, have an amazing husband and life, following the norm. I had a baby at 22, single mom also by 22, a failed relationship, survived serious abuse, went through family court, won full custody, got R’s parental rights stripped, started a non- profit, shared my story, went back to work full time all by 25. It was not the picture perfect life that society makes you feel like you need to have, but it is my life, and I love it.

25) Be okay with being alone– I can not stress this enough, being alone doesn’t mean you are lonely. You don’t need to settle for shitty friends, shitty relationships or a shitty job. Strive for better. Do not settle for a jerk who gives you attention when he wants to, wait for the guy who makes you the center of his world. Until then take time to yourself-be alone. I hate the saying that you are looking for your other half, you shouldn’t be. You should be whole all by yourself and find another person who compliments your independence, respects your drive, and encourages you to accomplish your goals.

So far on this life long journey I have learned so much. I can’t wait to see what 26 has in store for me.