You Showed Me What Love Is Not
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I'm Ready To Thank You For Teaching Me What Love Is Not

What we had wasn't love, and I can't believe I got fooled into thinking it was.

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I'm Ready To Thank You For Teaching Me What Love Is Not
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When we met, I had never fallen in love before. Even so, I was blessed to be raised in a home where love is the foundation. The love my parents had for each other and for me showed me what love is--patient, kind, selfless, modest, and enduring. As much as I tried to justify our relationship for so long, I realize what we had definitely was not "love"--by any meaning of the word.

For a good while, I wasn't able to talk about you without getting angry. All of the hurt you caused me resurfaced each time someone mentioned you or asked me about my past relationships. Even now, a few years later, I am scared to be truthful about our time together; however, I realize now that healing is necessary to move forward. I am done letting the pain I bottled up get in the way of forming new relationships. I'm done with hating myself.

Let me be clear: I don't hate you. In fact, I am healed enough that I can now thank you for teaching me what love is not.

1. Thank you for teaching me that love is not dishonesty.

There were so many times I asked you questions, some as insignificant as what time you'd be home from practice, and you'd evade them with reasons unknown to me. Over and over, I let you convince me that the rumors I heard-- you discussing the intimate aspects of our relationship in the locker room, you creating fake social media accounts to meet new people, and telling other girls we broke up to try to get them to come over when I was on vacation--were just rumors from people trying to break us up.

Looking back, I can't believe I was fooled for so long. After I finally allowed myself to see the light, my fear of being lied to made it hard for me to form deep connections with anyone.

2. Thank you for teaching me that love is not isolation.

Because my friends saw first-hand the way I was being affected by our relationship, they tirelessly tried to get me to end it. Because I loved you and made so many memories with you, I didn't want to let you go. I was your advocate for so long that they eventually just let us be.

In turn, I realized that as I turned my back on my friends in order to stand up for you, I missed out on so many memories I could have made with them. I lost time with them--time that I will never get back.

3. Thank you for teaching me that love is not manipulation.

If you saw me walking with another boy in the hallway, hanging out in co-ed groups without you, or taking too long to answer my phone, the anger you released terrified me. I remember waking up at 2 a.m. to 10+ missed calls and text messages demanding my reply, "or else". I knew from previous arguments that the words "or else" represented a wide range of threats--including hurting yourself, telling others about things I trusted to stay between us, or spreading false rumors that would destroy my reputation.

I stayed with you for so much longer than I should have out of fear. Even now, I can still taste the saltiness of the tears streaming down my face and hear the sound of my cracked voice crying out for my mom in the middle of the night. My heart still races, my limbs still feel paralyzed, and I still have trouble swallowing every time I remember these nights.

4. Thank you for teaching me that love is not defined by physicality.

As hard as it is for me to admit, I was numb for a great deal of our relationship. I felt like I was walking around as a shell of a person. I had grown up hearing that true beauty comes from within, but it seemed like you didn't even want to get to know who I truly was. Your focus on physical intimacy and lack of interest in my passions, fears, and other emotional needs had me feeling like a body was all I was. I thought the real me, the one who loves 80s music and quotes SpongeBob and gets sick after eating ice cream but has it every day anyway, was incapable of being loved.

The trauma from this aspect of our relationship has been a major roadblock in my healing process. When the possibility of a new relationship bloomed, I sabotaged it before it could even begin. I couldn't allow myself to make emotional connections with boys who wanted to get physical, and I couldn't allow myself to make physical connections with those who cared about my emotional needs. I didn't know how to explain that just because I had one physical relationship, didn't mean that I wanted another. I did not value who I was, and in turn, I did not expect any boy to value me either.

5. Thank you for teaching me that love is not cruel.

Your excuse for name-calling, yelling, and ignoring me was that you loved me. You asked me to bring you dinner, but you wouldn't be home until two hours after I arrived. Your parents asked me to come to family get-togethers, but as soon as I'd pull up, you'd come outside and tell me to go back home. I went to a teammate's Sweet 16 for a few short hours, and you called me a slut for being around boys without you. After returning home, you wouldn't stop sending mean text messages until I sent you pictures and videos of my room to prove to you that I was no longer out.

All this time, you told me you worried so much about my whereabouts and didn't want me around others because you were so scared you'd lose me. I thought your cruelty was just insecurity, and I wanted so badly to make you happy.

6. Thank you for teaching me that love is not selfish.

I am the first to admit that I am flawed, so I am not going to pretend I never made mistakes or hurt you during our relationship. However, I wore myself out trying to make you happy while didn't seem to think twice about my feelings. You continued to live your life however you wanted, while I became physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. I know relationships require hard work and are not always sunshine and rainbows, but what we were doing was not healthy.

I could not continue to pour out love when you were not filling me in return. It doesn't work that way.

7. Thank you for teaching me that love is not what you gave me, and I can have love without you.

The crazy thing is, I thought this type of relationship was normal. Seeing my friends in healthy relationships has opened my eyes. Now that we're over, I see why they called us toxic. You took advantage of my vulnerability, and I was hurt for a long time.

However, I am not angry anymore. In fact, I thank you for teaching me what love is not. Thank you for hurting me; in turn, I found the unconditional true love of Jesus. Thank you for pushing me to my breaking point, a point so low that I needed to reach out to others for help. Through that process, I learned to trust again and allow myself to be open with people. Through my recovery, I found others who loved me the way one should be loved. Because I had to deal with heartbreak so young, I am much more confident and aware of just how strong I am. I know from this experience that I can overcome the difficulties that come my way.

And, after all of this, I truly do hope you can be shown this type of love too.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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