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The worst part about watching someone make the same mistakes you did is knowing they need to make them in order to be enlightened.

I feel I am finally far enough removed from the toxicity of my previous relationship to see how unhealthy it really was.

I like to think this isn’t a reflection of my detest for him because of all he did to me, but rather a truer picture through the lens of hindsight of just how destructive he really was.

I don’t want to paint myself as a victim of abuse. The only marks he ever left on me were self inflicted, save the time he pushed me into a doorway while trying to move past my shaking frame as I tried to calm him down. He didn’t mean to. He never ever struck me, threw anything at me, or brandished a weapon.  But words can be a weapons, too. And there were a handful of times I did fear for my life.

I learned early on in our relationship that he had a temper. Throughout the years, The years brought lessons such as “When he is in Rage Mode, there is no reasoning with him” “Try not to cry, because that will only make him yell more,” and “Do not ever, EVER bring up a touchy subject while he is driving.”

I made the latter mistake multiple times before I learned. The conversations would begin innocently enough, a petty argument or a heavy topic, but before I knew it he would be driving upwards to 90 miles per hour, screaming at the top of his lungs, telling me I “wasn’t just going to cry my way out of this” if I let on to my fear. Would he snap out of it this time, or would he slam on the brakes and tell me to get out of the car, miles from home?

That’s just it though, because eventually he would snap out of it. He’d go back to being the caring man I thought I had, drying my tears, apologizing for raising his voice, making sweet gestures “just because” in the weeks following his outburst. I would honestly say that about 75% of the time, he was a really good boyfriend. Fiance. And eventually, husband.

But the other 25% was a nightmare. He was volatile, moody, and I never knew what might set him off.

I recently told a close friend of mine that once you begin trying to convince yourself that the “good outweighs the bad”, there is clearly enough “bad” in the situation to warrant a second thought. That 75% of a relationship, (some weeks 60%, some days barely ten…) was something I rationalized that I could be happy in for the rest of my life. But like most things, I couldn’t see how much that 25% was sucking the life out of me until I finally hit a point of realization after things got worse than I ever imagined. And I was too busy defending him to heed the thoughts of close friends who knew I deserved better.

Friend, I wish I could save you the heartache, the fear, the oceans of tears, but I know I can’t drag you to the point of realization. You may be making the very mistakes I did, but I know you need to see that for yourself before you’ll take action toward the life you so deserve. But your true friends, your family, we all love you. Know that. And if you, like I did, fear that being alone is a worse fate than anything he could put you through, know that it’s not–you are more alone right now with him than you probably realize. The thing about enlightenment, though, is that it rarely comes as an epiphany. You’re probably not going to suddenly wake up one morning with the determination to leave. But eventually, I hope you’ll begin to form the necessary resolve.

And when you finally leap, don’t doubt for a second that there will be people who love you waiting with open arms to break your fall.