I couldn’t believe I found myself in the same position again. This was the second time around nearly a decade later. The only difference was that he didn’t hit me, choke me or try to kill me. Instead, my boyfriend used words to damage my confidence and self-esteem.

We started off like any other couple. Young, curious and anxious to get to know one another. He was kind, he was smart and he made me feel like the star of his world. I thought, “wow.” I was honestly impressed by the way he carried himself, his ability to teach me new things and open me up on levels I hadn’t yet experienced. It was early, but I believed he could possibly be the one. But due to a past littered with mistakes and all the poor relationship decisions I’ve made, I really wanted to take baby steps this time around so I made the choice not to fully invest my time and heart until I was sure.

In the past, I had engulfed myself in what I thought was love. I’m very guilty of rushing things, re-arranging my agenda and putting my relationship above all else. As a result, I’ve experienced heartache and beyond that, a loss of my sense of self. I would spend so much time changing who I was to meet their need that I completely dismissed my own. But then a friend reminded me of why having my own identity is so important, why I needed to take my time and keep my cards close to my chest (at least for a little while) until he earned my heart. She said, ” Your boyfriend is not your husband. Relax.” And I did. I took a far different approach to this relationship than I had with the others. The only thing is, my boyfriend didn’t understand why. This bothered him and his frustration was evident whenever he would hang up on me, cut me off mid-sentence, and send me pages of disrespectful text messages. He didn’t like that he did not have control over my time or me. Whatever I was giving him just wasn’t enough. His reaction was disturbing. But I stayed. I stayed longer than I should have. I admit, at first I was slow to move on. I couldn’t bare the thought of another unsuccessful relationship and despite the signs and signals a part of me desperately wanted to salvage it. But then it hit me. I flashed back to the abuse I endured from Andrew (to get the full story, you’d have to read my book, Everything I Couldn’t Tell My Mother) and how he made me feel – worthless, incapable, stupid, ugly. It was definitely one of the lowest points in my young adult life. However, one thing I knew for sure is that I didn’t want to go through that same experience that again. I have worked too long and too hard to rebuild myself. If I chose to stay thinking I could “change him” it would be pointless. No man will respect you more than you respect yourself. In that relationship, love and respect were gone out the window.

Often times we stick to what feels normal or what feels comfortable not even realizing that we are always one choice away from a different life and a different love. What gave me the courage to say #BOYBYE was none other than the fact that the relationship with myself was far more important. I was not going to let any man shatter that – so he made it very easy for me. He eliminated himself from the possibility of ever being with me. Girlfriend, dating is not all rainbows and sunshine, however, when you know what you want it becomes less difficult to navigate these waters.

I’m still single because I want something better than regular. I really want to get it through to you that a successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with bricks others have thrown at her. Some of these guys may not appreciate the woman you are, but be patient because someday one will.

I also want to add: If you are in a relationship and don’t know where to turn, please be encouraged and confide in someone you trust. There are resources available and people who want to help.

Peace & Love,