Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Finding My Way Back to Myself.

Putting my thoughts into words isn't usually a challenge for me (especially when I can write them out) - I've always been able to voice my emotions and make my point/voice heard (which pisses my parents off to no end, because when we disagree on things like politics or religion - or even curfews when I was younger - I was able to articulate my feelings in a way that made them understand where I was coming from).

However, I am the type of person who never, ever wants to come off like I'm asking for pity from people - I've always been able to deal with problems on my own, and have never sought out to use things going on in my life to try to get other people to give me attention.

I'd rather get attention because people genuinely like me and my personality, than because they feel sorry for me. Sometimes I have a hard time sharing my feelings with people - even my good friends, because I'm afraid that they will assume that I'm trying to elicit sympathy. I know that's weird, but that's how awkward and uncomfortable talking about the hard things are for me.

Even now, I'm sitting here with my heart pounding, my mouse flicking back and forth from the "publish post" button - because once I click that, it's all real, and I've put myself out there to be totally vulnerable.

My blog has always, always been a place where I've been open and honest - whether it's about my love for fashion and shoes (because I love shoes oh so much), my past history with eating disorders, or struggles lately with the death of Poppy - I've felt such an overwhelmingly beautiful amount of support from you all that it has encouraged me to continue being open.

I think this post is just kind of an outlet for me - a final cutting of the ties, and a cathartic exercise to alleviate everything I've been feeling these past few months.


Lately, I've been doing so much self reflection about who I am, and how far I've come. It's been a challenging few months, for more reasons than the loss of Poppy (which is not what this post is about, promise).

As many of you know (though newer readers probably don't), I ended my two year relationship with Jason in mid-January.

I can't even pretend that this was a difficult decision for me - and not a day has gone by that I've sat and thought, "Maybe I made the wrong decision." It was one of those things that needed to happen and was completely necessary, and therefore I'm lucky in the regards that I didn't spend my nights needing to be comforted by Ben & Jerry's and terrible chick flicks.

In fact, the more that I've thought about it, the more I wish that I had gotten out of the relationship sooner, because it was probably one of the most unhealthy things I've put myself through in a long time.

I'm not writing this post to bash Jason, or say that I was miserable for the entire duration of our relationship, because that would a complete and total lie. I will say though, that I missed a lot of warning signs - signs that things were just not what they appeared from the surface. Things started out great, but when they went downhill, they went downhill quickly.

For the good part of a year and a half, I felt really, really bad about myself, and was made to feel that way by Jason.

At first, when I really thought about it all, I got really angry, and wanted to completely write off every male as being an egotistical jerk, who was going to behave the same way -- but this lasted about a week, if that (because I really hate generalizations - and also, I've met so many beautiful, decent, wonderful males through blogging that I could never lump everyone into that category!).

Just kidding, guys.

Looking back, I think the it all probably started off quickly - but I was so in that honeymoon period that I didn't realize what was happening.

The subtle comments that I dismissed as him caring, or being supportive - "Don't you think that's a little low cut? I don't want other guys looking at you..." or, "I really feel uncomfortable with you hanging out with Guy Friend X - I see the way he looks at you."

I was constantly compared to other girls - they were smarter, prettier, thinner, curvier, less high maintenance, less materialistic than I was. The interrogating over every action of mine began, and was unrelenting.

Did I really need another pair of jeans? I could feed a family in Africa for the price of a pair of Joe's - how could I live with myself knowing that? No good girls go out and drink with their girl friends - that's asking for trouble, and that's why girls cheat. Why didn't I respond faster to his texts - did he need to be worried that I was texting other guys? Why did Guy Friend X write that on my Facebook wall - was it because I was dressing slutty when Jay wasn't around?

I listened - I felt guilty any time I bought shoes, or jeans, or even food at Whole Foods vs. buying store brand things. I stopped going out with my girl friends, and tucked myself away in the apartment, finding meaningless things to occupy my time. I lost contact with my guy friends from back at home - ignored their texts and calls, because I thought I was being respectful to Jay.

Then, it wasn't enough for it to be just about me - he started insulting my family and the way that Pat and I were raised.

My parents were "too focused on money and their careers" and weren't good role models for Pat and I because they let us drink or swear or talk to them about sex.

How could they justify having a vacation home when people in America are starving? How could my mom throw her doctorate degree at people and make them feel inferior? How could my parents justify having our kitchen remodeled, or buying a new car when the economy is crumbling and people are losing their jobs? How dare they?

After a while, I started believing all the things that were said to me - every underhanded, nasty little comment. And they were little comments - it was never yelled at me, or anything extreme - but every day, it was pointed out to me in one way or another the ways that I was a failure as a person.

I felt guilty for driving my car (which he constantly criticized my parents for buying for me), for going to China, for going out dinner as much as my family does - everything became something that I was made to feel guilty for having/doing/experiencing. I had always known that he and I came from different economic backgrounds, which I never saw as an issue - until he made it into one, bringing it up constantly - using it as something to hold against me, rather than celebrate the fact that I came from a family of extremely hard workers.

It even got down to him picking on the fact that I did well in school and that getting good grades was something I strived to achieve - which still completely boggles my mind.

My friends saw a different side to me - I became a shell of myself, because I was so overwhelmed with feeling bad all the time. Feeling bad about the things I loved that were clearly so trivial, feeling bad about the way that I was raised and the lifestyle that I was accustomed to that clearly was too extravagant, feeling bad about wanting more - wanting someone to accept me for what I was, because I was clearly just ungrateful for what I had.

I felt ugly every single day, inside and out. The thing about negativity and criticism is that eventually, you start to believe it yourself, no matter how much you believed in yourself before.

One morning (this was only a few months ago - like, early January), my friend Vickie came over for breakfast at my house, and we were sitting and talking, and she said to me (because this girl knew me since 6th grade, went through high school and college with me), "Al, you seem so miserable - you're not yourself, and you're so beautiful that you deserve to be happy. No one should ever make you feel like you don't deserve that - ever."

I can only pray that everyone in a similar situation has a Vickie in their lives, to pull them out of the slump, and give them the wake up call that they need. Without my even saying anything to her, she just knew, and knew the words to say to give me what I had been lacking for almost two years - acceptance and comfort in who I was. I think that at that time too, I was ready to hear and accept it - and that became the catalyst that I needed to really examine how much was wrong in the relationship.

Girls - or guys - if something feels wrong or if someone is making you feel like you need to change in order to please them - please, please, please don't be afraid to be alone. You are who you are, and you should not have to change that to live up to the expectations of someone else. Not only is it unhealthy to sit and take someone else giving you shit for who you are, it's emotionally abusive.

You don't have to be hit, or have someone yell in your face for things to be unhealthy - believe me, I realize I could have had it a lot worse, but that doesn't mean that someone you're in a relationship with (including friendships!) picking on you is ever, EVER okay.


The things you love - that belongs to you and no one else. Find someone who loves you for all the little quirks you have - the things that set you apart from others, and even the things that they don't understand (like a love for fashion or Christian Louboutin). Your friends are your friends - your loves are your loves, and no one should dictate those things to you, or make you feel bad about them, in a relationship.

So you know what? Maybe I do love overpriced footwear and denim, I listen to really, embarrassingly dirty hip hop and dubstep, my skin still gets breakouts, I can have trouble articulating my emotions and tend to withdraw, I may never be the prettiest girl in the room, and I get self conscious about my weight or hair from time to time - but I love myself, and I'm worth more than someone picking me apart -- and so are each and every one of you.

Okay, I know this is cliche - but it's so, so true. Doesn't matter if you're male or female, heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual, fat or thin - whatever. You deserve the absolute best - each and every one of you.

As for me now - for the most part, I really love myself. I have flaws, and I still do have some scars from this past relationship, because building your self esteem up after it has been practically diminished takes time - but with the help of my beautiful family, friends, and a kick ass therapist (ha, clearly I have no shame), I'm on my way back.

And you best believe I'm rocking Louboutins on my way back to being 100%.

(Or attempting - my ankles were killing me).

So many of you are in beautiful, healthy relationships/marriages - and all of you give me hope. I see the genuine happiness that you have and am deeply, deeply touched by it.

I love you all so much and am always, always here for you if you need someone to talk to! Thank you for all the love and support -- honestly, it means so much to me.

Currently listening to: Back Against the Wall - Cage the Elephant


dani said...

Thank you for your very sweet comment! :) I'm so glad that this was the first post the first time I came to your blog - it really gave me an amazing idea of the amazing person you must be, and I'm now following and looking forward to reading more!

<3 The Daily Dani

MizzJ said...

Wow. This was such an incredible post and I can tell how hard it was for you to write it. I'm so glad you did though. Not to sound cheesy, but it makes me like you 100x more as a blogger! You write well and honestly. I can certainly sympathize with you. I too have been through some very bad relationships and it always surprises me when friends say "oh you wouldn't understand you have it so good" well, that wasn't always the case and I had to go thru some rough times alone. Just b/c not every single person on fb is treated to updates on your personal life, doesn't mean nothing's going on am I right? Anyways, I hope someone out there reads this and changes their life for the better as well!

HiFashion said...

I'm so glad you wrote this. Must have been hard, but it's good to let it out! It seems like a tough relationship and I'm so sorry you were in it for that long. It's never fun being in that situation where a guy, no less, makes you feel like that (we've all been there!)
Just be sure to know, that I'm only an email away incase you ever need to talk/type :)

Mary Jo from TrustYourStyle said...

This is such a great and persona post--you don't see many of these in blogs. I'm glad you are moving through all of it and know that you are going to come through it with grace.

xo Mary Jo

Olive said...

I know I've been off the radar for awhile, but I'm still reading when I can, and this post has really put me in a mood to write again. You are truly an incredible person, and I loved reading this and getting better insight into what you've been through and how you've overcome it :). It's such an important message to get out there, that you deserve to feel appreciated. So many people deal with this, feeling less than what they are truly worth because of someone else's criticisms. J had no right to disregard your family's hard work and criticize you for the things you are able to do because your family has earned their success. Achieving a doctorate is definitely not something you are just handed! I have a good friend who had the same warning signs in her relationship with him being jealous of innocent guy friends interacting with her, told her not to drink with friends, and he even made the same "low cut" shirt comment, and the things she wore were never slutty, ever! She is finally out of that relationship as well, and I feel like she is better off for it too. Some people just hold you back from reaching your full potential. I'm so glad you had Vickie there to say the right words and to guide you to your epiphany, everyone needs a friend like that :). I am SO happy for you realizing that you didn't deserve the guilt and the stress the relationship put on you. You're amazing just the way you are! Just because you come from a different economic background it doesn't make you blind to the world or uncaring, you come across to me as a extremely caring and knowledgable person, and if he couldn't see or appreciate that about you, that was a huge mistake on his part. Allison I loved this post, it was personal(kudos to you!) but it also applies to so many people and the situations they've struggled with-- you definitely gave some excellent advice. Relationships are about loving what makes a person who they are, not trying to cram them into the mold of who they think they should be. I couldn't be happier for you finding yourself in such a positive way!
♥ Olivia

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

I literally have goosebumps! Allison - you know how much I love and adore you. I think you are one of the most amazing people (I've never) met, I am SO sorry that you went through all of that. I knew the breakup wasn't great but I didn't know why it happened. Please forgive me for being so blunt, but I always wondered why you were with him. I'd see the pictures and think "she's gorgeous and he is not even close to her caliber" haha! For real. Like every time I saw a picture of him...

Anyone who comes in contact with you is immediately a lucky person. To be around, or the recipient of an email, tweet, etc., is a joyful incident.


(side note: just got a tweet from you hehe!)

Legally Brunette Kate said...

Beautiful post. I got out of a three year relationship last summer and sometimes I look back and feel weird that I never doubted or second guessed my decision.

Although he never criticized my parents or anything like that, he was definitely critical of my body/appearance and definitely felt he was entitled to a certain level of physical attractiveness in a woman. He frequently compared me to other girls and would comment on how, in some way or another, that they were more attractive than me.

It sounds like a cliche, but I'm now with a great guy who isn't anything like that. Sometimes I find myself getting surprised by how he DOESN'T gawk at other girls or make critical comments about my body...it reminds me of how unhealthy my past relationship was.

Anyway, this was long, but I absolutely understand where you're coming from. You absolutely deserve the best...and you'll find it when the time is right.


You don't know how much I needed this post. I've been asking myself daily, did I make the right choice in breaking up with my ex boyfriend. Thinking about that question has been ruining the progression of and my ability to relax in my new relationship...I feel like I can let go and breathe now.

Thank you.

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

Oh my sweet friend! Everytime you do a post I feel like we are just sitting down for coffee in person chatting about life. You are so beautiful, sweet, smart and overall such a FABULOUS person and you just deserve the best there is! I'm sorry I've been behind on emails (I have yours starred in my gmail inbox) but every comment you leave just 1000% brightens my day! Lets do some emailing this week and catch up where my way too long of a comment will leave off.

Sara Louise said...

Allison! You are AWESOME! You are absolutely amazing for writing this post... amazing for your honesty, your bravery, and for putting yourself out there in a way that I'm sure will help others! Thank you for being beautiful, lovely you xxx

Sara Louise said...

Allison! You are AWESOME! You are absolutely amazing for writing this post... amazing for your honesty, your bravery, and for putting yourself out there in a way that I'm sure will help others! Thank you for being beautiful, lovely you xxx

Nicole Linette said...

Oh, Allison, I absolutely love your self-reflecting posts. Everyone here is exactly right, it's like we're chatting one on one and you help us remind ourselves of the goodness we have. I'm sorry you had to be torn down by J for so long, but clearly you are an amazing woman to pull yourself through.

I'm so happy to hear that you're doing well &hearts. Haha, I also am obsessed with all the music you blog too, and that you own Louboutins! No shame-- ever!!!


sunny said...

Can't believe this is the first time coming across your blog and I didn't get to be around earlier for the context! =( But what I've read here is so raw and honest and amazing. I admire you so much for this post and for the strength you exude. Ultimately from what you wrote here, it sounds like that relationship HAD to end, so it's a darn good thing it did! That means you can finally move toward brighter healthier relationships. Will definitely be a follower of this blog now! Thanks for sharing. You write incredibly well!

Love, Lolli said...

What a courageous and honest post. I really admire you for being such a strong and brave woman. You absolutely deserve a person who supports you and accepts and love you for yourself. I really commend you for opening up about a difficult subject and for truly writing from your heart. I think that by doing so you are promoting awareness about a subject that is emotional and personal. You are the best!!! XOXOX

Ash said...

I had no idea you'd gone through a relationship like that, it sounds like it was - quite an ordeal, for lack of a better phrase.

And I have no real right to say what I'm about to say, but as a guy, I feel I have to say it and I think pretty much any other even half-decent guy would say it as well; your ex honestly, to me, sounds like he was a dick.

There, I said it. It's unpleasant, but for me, I really had to say that. After reading what he put you through, all that crap he said, didn't say and insinuated really did make me angry and more than a little shocked. I only 'know' you through your blog posts and comments on my blog, but what little I do know is more than enough for me to know for a fact that what he had to say to you is unfounded and more than a little dick-ish. You didn't deserve ANYTHING of what he said and did to you (it was a bit ambiguous to me in your post, but I sure as hell am hoping that he didn't actually hit you... The mere thought of that is... words really can't describe. And I'm not trying to be dramatic or anything, but I really can't find the words for it) I'm going to use another word to describe him, a word that you appreciated me using in one of my blog posts when you first commented on my blog and I first got to 'meet' you (perfect circle, huh? :P), a word that seems perfectly justifiable and appropriate - twat. *wink*

Anyway, onto a more positive angle; I hope you do eventually find someone who can give you everything you deserve and more. I really do. What’s great is that you’ve been able to come through this so well. You seem to have been through a fair few lows recently, but life is a rollercoaster (cliche’, but meh, seems true), and it seems to me like you’re overdue for some highs right about now, and I sure hope there’s some awesome, happy, good times in your life not too far over the horizon.

Again, you really are a great person, don’t let any other person (read; twat) tell you otherwise; they’re dead wrong. I’m glad I’ve gotten to know you. To an extent anyway :P.

Peace out.

Danielle V. said...

Hi there!

I just stumbled upon your blog at IFB about an hour ago and I've absolutely loved reading your posts (I always try to get a feel for the blog when I read it for the first time). Your writing is really wonderful to read and I've been very inspired by some of your words. Wishing you all the best, and looking forward to following your blog!


Cortnie Elizabeth said...



i.r. said...

Eloquently and passionately written! Your writing style reminds me of Curtis Sittenfield:))

The PvdH Journal said...

Allison, (like Danielle) I also stumbled across your blog in IBF... and I am glad I did. I really want to thank you for sharing that. I got out of a three year relationship that was like that. He was constantly telling me "oh but what are you thinking, you are not an artist". Even saying this when I was having my first exhibition in Florence of my art work... Yikes.

Anyways, I'm really glad to have found your blog!

xx PvdH -designer and illustrator


Maria Alyssa said...

I'm going to make this comment short and sweet. First of all, thanks for the comment you leave in my blog (^^♥)

Anyway, this is a great post. This post made me want to read everything in your blog and asking for more post. LOL. Also I'm a shoe lover like you ♥ haha... Lastly, Keep up the good work!


hippilazman said...

thanks for comment honey =) happy blogging..


Nantucket Daffodil said...

This was an amazing post. So heartfelt I had tears in my eyes. I remember being your age and living through a similar situation, and feeling so bad about myself that I thought no one else would ever love me. One husband and 2 kids later, at age 45 and happily married, I wish I also had a friend like you all those yrs ago. Keep using this blog as an outlet for your emotions. NO ONE should ever be alone and haunted by their feeling...you are beautiful!

Meg {henninglove} said...

wow what an honest post, thanks for sharing with us your true and honest feeling. it is those flags that all of us girls need to have our eyes wide open for, i hope a guy will come along soon and make you feel great every day and make you feel worthy of being his girlfriend!

amy b.s. said...

thank you for this post. and i can honestly say, i think most people can relate to this. i know i spent far too long in a bad relationship and it too me a long time to relize what i wanted and didn't want. making that decision to leave though is always a tough one, but moving on can be so much better. i know you'll be fine and find something you deserve.