I had spent years in love with someone who was toxic for me, and about a year ago, the messy limbo finally came to an end. And if you think I felt liberated, happy, and finally free from all the pain and sadness that accompanied the relationship, you're wrong. I felt lost, sad, empty and alone.

The relationship had become less about wanting to be with my ex than it did about being a bad habit or a crutch.

I used the relationship as a vice for all my other problems. I felt a lot of chaos in myself and in my mind and my soul, and I used the toxic situation with my ex to cope with it. I had my life together in every other way, and I poured all of my negative emotions into this outlet. It gave me an excuse to be sad or reckless or completely undone.

So, when this vice was taken away, it was almost like I experienced withdrawal. I no longer had my safety net to rely on, and it was just me and my demons at last.

I felt so lonely, sad and lost, but beyond that, I didn't feel much else. I didn't get much joy out of anything and for the first time in my life, I struggled a lot.

I struggled at work, I struggled in my classes, I struggled to remember basic tasks, I struggled to attend meetings and to meet deadlines. I struggled to be creative and I even struggled to enjoy myself. I had never felt so off in my entire life.

I think I used to think the idea of being "out of control" was attractive and exciting, but when it came down to really having no control over myself, it was horrible.

Through this struggling, I wanted nothing more than to fall in love.

A million times I begged and prayed to meet someone so I could fall in love because I thought it would save me. I didn't want to feel so sad and lost anymore, and I thought falling love in love with someone new would fix it all. But I never met anyone, and I grew sadder.

And when I found out my ex had met someone new, I grew angry. I felt betrayed by the universe and even more alone than before. I was angry that I had to struggle and angry I couldn't just finally be okay. I was angry that things weren't just easy to deal with and move on. I've never felt such emotional turmoil and darkness in my life.

Finally, being faced with my imperfections and struggling to achieve in all areas of my life really challenged me to love and value myself for the rawest and important reasons. I learned to love myself for who I am, for what I believed in, for my morals and my values, for how I treat people, and most importantly, how I treat myself.

I stopped leaning on my accomplishments to make me look good, my toxic relationship to pour my negative energy into and my hard exterior to hide all insecurities from the world. I had to build myself from the bottom up and now I've never had a more solid foundation.

I finally did fall in love, and it was better than I could've asked for. I fell in love with my life again.

Being happy feels effortless again, staying positive through hardships is a habit now, and learning to accept defeat feels graceful instead of a spiral. I fell in love with my friends. I've never felt more love and appreciation than I do with the people who surround me now. They love me for my flaws and all, and I've never felt so secure in the relationships I've built.

I've fallen in love with my activities again. I love going to class and learning like I used to and attending chapter for my sorority because I get to see my friends, and I have a new job I adore. Doing these activities is easy and enjoyable, and asking for help and admitting when I need a break no longer feels like a failure. It's just taking care of myself.

And finally, probably most importantly, I fell in love with myself, which is the best feeling of all. I am not perfect by any means and I still have insecurities. But I've learned to view them as something to work on and something to accept, and I need to love myself despite those flaws.

I'm so happy I wasn't given what I begged for, whether it was another chance with my ex or to meet someone new because I was given the opportunity to really grow.

I feel so much stronger and so much steadier now than I ever have before. I know I can handle anything. I know what I deserve, who I should surround myself with, and how I should treat myself. And that chaos I felt inside of me for so many years has finally subsided, has finally gone away.

I've never felt so much peace in my life and in myself, and I'm thankful for that pain that gave it to me.