A Broken Engagement
I can still vividly recall what my engagement ring looked like. Being the artistic type, I’ve never been a diamond lover. My personality calls for something colorful so my ex fiancé had an emerald-cut ruby set as the centerpiece of my ring. I used to get compliments from other people about how perfect the ring was for me. The sad truth was that the relationship behind it was not as beautiful as the ring itself. It was a façade that covered up an engagement that was falling apart.
The first few months of our engagement were a dream. We went on trips together; exploring strange places and creating new memories. We even opened up our own restaurant franchise. The two of us were in love, bright-eyed and ready for the future. Or so we thought. When I met my fiancé, he was a reformed drug addict. He went to church every Sunday, had a stable job that paid well and spent his free time as an amateur mixed martial arts fighter. I never would have thought that, in the final stretch of our engagement, he would slip back into his addiction and that I would become victim to an experience that has scarred my life forever.
How Abuse Makes Fighting for a Relationship Difficult
Dealing with an addicted loved one can be utterly draining and exhausting. However, at first, giving up was not an option for me. I was raised in a culture where engagement is considered to be as sacred as marriage. When you become engaged, there is practically no turning back. You are required to stand for the decision that you have made. And so I did. I went through all kinds of abuse: physical, verbal, emotional abuse, you name it. I fought for our relationship through it all, thinking that my fiancé and I could survive the tough times together. I was wrong.
It’s true what they say, that when you’ve been too strong for far too long, you will eventually break apart. During the last months of our engagement, I kept holding on but inside I knew I was already crumbling. It reached a point where I developed a phobia for blood because of the repetitive physical abuse that I had endured. The trauma that I tried to repress finally broke and came to a head. I fell into deep depression and eventually, I gave up the fight.
Putting a Stop to the Abuse
It wasn’t an easy decision to make. I wasn’t only giving up my fiancé. I was also giving up my best friend and my business partner. For four years, he was my everything. Up to this day, it is still the most painful choice that I have ever had to make. In retrospect, it was a decision absolutely needed to make. Had I stayed, I would have crumbled into pieces until nothing was left of me. Luckily for me, my family was there for me throughout the whole process. They saw how I gradually lost my optimism over the years. They always knew that something wrong was going on. In an effort to respect my independence, they chose not to probe further. Nevertheless, they welcomed me back with open arms and comforting words. I owe the most part of my recovery to them. Without their unconditional love, I might have lost my battle with depression.
Letting Go Can Be Hard
In the Philippines, although women are generally viewed as fragile and to be cared for, we admire women for being strong and for being able to fight through their own battles. In history, we have had several women who were able to do so and are still praised for their courage to this day. That was how most people viewed me. I received multitudes of assuring words saying that I was brave and strong for letting go when I had to.
The battle didn’t stop when I ended our engagement. It took me years of psychotherapy and spiritual counselling to recover and feel like I am me again. Looking back at where I am now, I wouldn’t have chosen my life to have gone any differently. You might think I am crazy for saying that , but I know that I came out a stronger, better woman. Above all, it wasn’t all scars and pain that my ex fiancé had given me. He also gave me the source of my current happiness and purpose in life: our daughter.
When Painful Decisions Become the Best Ones
Life has a way of turning out unexpectedly. Sometimes, when we think that our “happily ever after” is already close at hand, it takes a turn for the worst. When this happens, try your best to do what I did. Have the courage to fight for yourself even if it means letting go of the people who mean the world to you. While in the moment it will feel like the most painful decision you will ever make, it will also be the best decision that you will ever make. A decision to live for yourself and for those who bring love and warmth to your life.