When Austin and I first met, he went through absolute hell, honestly. In the beginning stages of any relationship, trust has to be built, respect has to be given, and so on. For me, I didn’t trust anyone, not even myself.
After enduring many years of verbal and emotional abuse, on top of the constant cheating, I no longer trusted. I didn’t trust myself due to my ignorance for years, putting up with way more than anyone should ever have to. There was no logical reason that I couldn’t have left sooner, so why didn’t I? If the man that I married and shared a beautiful little boy with couldn’t love me, respect me, want me, encourage me, and do what all husbands should want to do with and for their wives, why in the world would I put myself through something like that again?
Not only did Austin have to earn my trust, which in itself seemed like an impossible task, but he had to be patient and understanding of my past and the way that it still affected me today. Even on good days, there were triggers. It’s not something he could have avoided, but he took his time learning more about my trauma, recognizing possible triggers, and being there for me if something went unexpectedly.
Believe it or not, I fought Austin and tried to keep him at a distance. Finding happiness again just didn’t seem possible for someone like me. There was no way someone could get close to me and want to stay. I’d been told that for so long, I actually believed it. Especially after all that I’d been through, I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms, pushed people away without realizing it, and mentally beat myself up daily. Why would anyone take that kind of time to help mend someone back together? I’m someone who wears my heart on my sleeve and wants to help everyone, but I’m not sure if I could even do something like that.
Since day one, Austin has always been there for me. Through the up’s and down’s, triggers, loss, depression; all of it. He hasn’t left my side. It seems as though everyone says this, but I truly do not know what I would do without him in my life.
Every human is flawed. You are no exception. I am no exception. Austin is no exception. However, the love that he gives and shows me every single day makes me forget that I am incredibly flawed at times. He doesn’t just see me on the surface, he looks within my soul. Even two years later, I can just look at him and get butterflies. No one has ever loved me like that before, and I wasn’t even sure I deserved it.
My birthday is in June, but for months now, I’ve been talking about starting photography. Since we’re in the process of buying our first home, we agreed that we would wait until after we closed and moved to buy my equipment. This morning, he bought my equipment and told me that it would be here tomorrow as an early birthday present.
Now, to most, you may see that as really sweet or “cool” of him to do, but it goes so much deeper than that.
As most of you know, I have PTSD that manifested from childhood and past relationship trauma. Being told that I would never amount to anything, that I wasn’t good enough, that no one would “ever truly love me and put up with my bullshit issues,” or feeling as though I was unwanted, unloved, and unimportant; it is something that I will always have stuck in the back of my mind. I was constantly reminded of those words for years.
When Austin bought me that equipment, I started crying. So many emotions and thoughts were racing through my mind, and I couldn’t filter through them. It was the fact that he selflessly used some money he received through work to buy equipment for my early birthday, when he could have spent it on anything else. It was the fact that he believes in, supports, and encourages me in everything that I do, and want to do (photography). It was the fact that his unconditional, devoted love is something that still surprises me, and catches me off guard today.
You would think that after two years, I’d be used to his selfless, loving actions, but the truth is that I’m not sure if I will ever get used to them. He reminds me everyday how beautiful I am, that I’m wanted/needed, that we’re going to have a long, happy life together, and so much more. One day, I hope that I can put my past entirely behind me and not have triggers; not have to replay those harsh words in my mind. Until then, though, I know that Austin will always be there for me; to love and remind me that I am worth more than what I was forced to believe.
When you’re experiencing trauma and abuse, it becomes “normal” to you. You’re aware that it hurts, and of the problems it’s causing you within, but you don’t know any different.
When you leave a toxic relationship, you struggle to believe what is real and what isn’t. You even start to believe that you’re not worth more than what you were receiving in the first place, especially now that you’re broken and beaten down.
Let me be the one to tell you — you are capable of and worth being loved. Just like you, I didn’t believe anyone would ever love and accept me for all that I am, and all that I am not. Life proved me wrong; Austin proved me wrong. And he damn sure proved my ex-husband wrong, too.
We all make mistakes, but please hear me when I beg of you, do not push everyone away because you’re scared of them hurting you again. Take your time, keep your guard up, and eventually, you will find someone that is, also, patient enough to slowly tear down each and every wall that you put around your heart. Until then; until someone is willing to take that time, protect yourself. But do not hurt the people that are actually trying to love you.
Most importantly, learn to love yourself. Discover who you are, and what you enjoy in life. Bust your ass to conquer the world, and get what you deserve. Don’t settle, and please, do not go back. It will not change, no matter how much you want to believe it could.
I’m the happiest I have ever been in my entire life, and I never thought it would be possible for me. Despite all of the bullshit I put up with, it was all worth it to find the man of my dreams. I will forever be grateful that I met Austin when I did, and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us. He is the best thing to ever happen to my son and I.
You, too, will find someone worthy of your heart. Don’t give it to just anyone. Be cautious, and let them work to earn your trust, your heart, and your time.
If you, or someone you know, is in an abusive relationship, please reach out for help and/or get out as soon as you can. Your safety is so important.
You are more than welcome to always reach out to me if you want someone to talk to, as well. No matter what.