I’ve given up on a great many things in my life. Dreams that were once held close to my heart have been let go and scattered to the wind. Friendships that were once my lifeline have drifted apart like boats in rough water. I think giving up on some things is natural in life, because circumstances may demand that you shift your priorities and goals as you grow and change into the person you’re meant to become.

Three years ago, I gave up on romantic love.

I spent my early twenties struggling to please someone whose only joy was my emotional and physical destruction. I was able to escape my situation after five years of pure hell, and I know that I am one of the lucky ones. Some people never make it out. I think one of the least understood and acknowledged aspects of surviving domestic violence is what happens once you leave. Once you gather the shattered pieces of yourself and try to put them back together. I don’t have the words to describe what I went through in the early stages of my healing process, but it was definitely more than I was expecting. In that process I found myself reaching out for someone, anyone, who could make me feel like a whole person again. Over the course of those five years, I had forgotten how to be alone.

I had a string of one night stands and friends with benefits. Some were genuinely cool people, some were nothing more than a warm body. Each morning when those men would leave, I would wonder why I still felt empty, why my approach didn’t work. Eventually (and it took me far longer to realize than I’d like to admit), I realized I was giving away pieces of my spirit every time I gave my body to strangers. So I stopped.

For about a year now, I have been truly single. I haven’t been on a date or slept with anyone, instead I’ve been focusing my attention on healing and growing and building the kind of life I would be proud to share with somebody. And it’s been pretty amazing. I’ve rediscovered the things I liked before I met my ex-boyfriend. I’ve discovered even more amazing new things along the way. I’m beginning to fully embrace the person I am while working toward becoming who I want to be. I have taken the time to get to know myself again, and I know that when the time is right, I’ll meet the right person for me. But I’ve given up on the idea that you’re supposed to follow some sort of timeline when it comes to romantic love. I’ve given up on the idea that because I’m almost 30 and unmarried that there’s something wrong with me. I’ve never done anything in life the way I’m “supposed” to and I’m not about to start now. I’m making my own path and if that means I never meet a soul mate, I’m okay with that. Whatever plan is in place for me, I’ll see it through to the end. I’ve given up on hating myself and I’ve given up on allowing the hatred of others to poison the way I feel about myself. I’ve given up on negativity. I’ve given up on being too afraid to be the silly, goofy person I am. I’ve given up on being ashamed of myself or my choices. I’ve given up on being envious of people who have the things I’d like to earn for myself.

I’ve given up on trying be anyone I’m not. I’m loved, I’m worthy, I’m lucky, I’m a survivor.

Speak freely.

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