When I was younger I took in everything around me. Not younger in childhood years, I don’t expect I was much different from anyone else. Having three sisters, we always found something to keep us busy. But as I grew into my teenage years and then into adulthood, I became a watcher. I watched everyone around me.

I had trouble being a part of other people. Being alone wasn’t always easy but I have found it has gotten easier with time. I’ve spent many years surrounded by the wrong people – well, the wrong people for me.

I had believed that my life was supposed to go in some perfect order. I thought that as I got older it would all come to me, the right path at the right time. I guess that isn’t different from most either. I believed in fairy tales, I knew right from wrong and I was taught that my education is the one thing in my life that no one would ever be able to take away from me. I learned the hard way that this isn’t true. Not entirely anyway.

I spent ten years of my life devoted to a man who loved me in the beginning. He appreciated me then. He made me laugh then. Those were two aspects that were important to me. I fell for him, immediately.

Somewhere though after the beginning, it started to change. It all changed but I failed to see it. I was too busy believing that what he had given me at first wouldn’t disappear. On the days I couldn’t find what was once there I convinced myself it would come back. Sometimes it did. But as time passed, it came less and less. I just kept waiting.

I missed the signs. I missed the early warning signs. I was blinded by what I had once received. I held fast to those memories. I kept telling myself that who he was wouldn’t change and it couldn’t change. I told myself a lot of things. I wanted so badly to believe that I was right.

I had never once been told how quickly people can change or how people sometimes aren’t who they present themselves to be. I was never taught about any of the things I should have known. I never knew shit like this was likely. I’d watched movies. Lots of them. I had told myself that would never be me, I would never be like those women.

I knew better. I knew it was wrong. I saw it happening and convinced myself it wasn’t. I had lived my life trying to understand people but mostly trying to understand myself. Maybe it was my vulnerability that was preyed upon. I ate what he served like it was the best meal I’d ever had. I ate it asking for seconds – in the beginning.

Over time, I began to fight what was happening. I fought it hard. I hated it. It went against every part of who I was, even though I wasn’t sure about the person I was. But the life I had known while growing up, never included the life I had found myself living. None of it was familiar. I allowed myself to become weak by external means. I let him hurt me. Internal conflict was what I knew. I could tear myself down faster than anyone. But there was something about the way he did it. He did it well. He did it often. And I was lost.

On my path to discovering who I was becoming while I was there, I found all of the things I never wanted to become. I became them though. I was his outlet for all things bad. I carried the blame, hatred, disgust and all of his angst for the world. Fault, I found, was easier than guilt. I adjusted and readjusted who I was so many times I forgot who I was before my life with him had started. I lost all of those parts of me I was just beginning to hold onto tighter.

In my confusion, I allowed myself to be molded into the person he expected me to be – he’d never appreciated me for who I was. The problem was though, not that he didn’t appreciate me, but that I didn’t. I let him break me and change me because I refused to see the good parts of me. I let go of me. He is who he is and he always will be. But me, I’m still becoming.

It took me every bit of three years, the last three years I spent there, to convince myself I could leave. He had everything. He owned everything. Every bit of all of that was my constant reminder of my restarting with nothing.

But what he failed to see was I began changing, too. He missed my pep talks. He didn’t read what I read. I refused him in my thought processes. While he was absent from my daily life and finding reasons to avoid me, I was working on finding the person I was.

I stopped. I stopped believing what he’d said, I stopped owning the pain I received. I shut down while I was under construction. I started talking back when I stopped caring. I started telling him the things I had never said. In an instant, in one moment, my world changed and the view I’d had became different. That is what made all the difference.

While those that knew me tried to tell me, it never mattered. I saw it, too. I knew what they were saying as they said it all. I knew it and denied it. But something happens when it clicks inside. When all those pieces of what I knew came together, after I had taken away all of the excuses I’d owned for staying, I realized that none of it made sense.

Even my own confusion on my own journey was never as painful as staying. I walked away. Just like that. I’d done it before but this time it was different. Having all of those pieces come together, after all of the excuses left, it made all the difference.