I have dated enough toxic men and have had enough toxic friendships to learn that you do not have to forgive someone.
If you, as the reader, have grown up in a religious setting or you are religious still/now, then you have heard your preacher speak on forgiving thy neighbor. But, you are allowed to be enraged by the partners and friends that have hurt you, you are allowed to hold your partners and friends accountable. You are allowed to redefine what it means to heal. Not just pardoning that individual.
Forgiveness within relationships, such as a partner, friend, family member does not have to be a necessity, despite possibly being led to believe this. It is hard to notice emotional abuse and call it what it is. There is a pattern for females to sweep the feeling of emotional abuse under the rug because the words that can put a bruise to your heart, will disappear, but different bruises will emerge once again in another shape. The healing of a bruise can take a long time, the same way that healing yourself can take a lifetime. Not just because you forgive.
After my second time throwing myself as if I’m a bullfighter getting into the ring with a bull named love, it turned sour and painful, just as if the bull dug his horns right into my chest. I was paralyzed by what that meant about myself. The questions that would appear in my head were instances of personal abuse I inflicted on myself. The unanswered wonders of why it was so difficult to love me and not leave me in the dirt to rot of a broken heart. What I eventually started to realize is that I wasn’t difficult to love and undeserving of that love; my partner was undeserving of my love for him. The realization of my partner protecting pain and what felt like suffrage at the time should not be permitted. There are a lot of us that will accept anyone that gives us some sort of love — I am guilty as charged. After the experience of bullfighting with love and pain, I keep an eye out for toxic people and make sure they are not able to have one of their horns touch me.
Do not allow someone to shame you of anyway to have a control of your relationship/friendship.
My partner would constantly compare every inch of my body to old photos of myself. My hair, my lips, my stomach, the softness of my thighs that have fallen short of his fantasy of what my body should be, just so his satisfaction of having the perfect girl will make him happy.
Years later, The replication of his words that swarm into my head in the middle of the night, the feeling of his hands grabbing my waist and tightening so he can show where my waist should be still haunts me daily, but I am recovering and that’s okay. What is hurtful is for the community of women. Experience my bodies being scrutinized forms a discouragement from feeling as if I have no possession over my own body. Just the need to satisfy everyone around me. This is harmful for other women, this creates competition between women to be better than the other so your partner doesn’t imagine dating them instead of you. I do not want to live in a world that gives me the feeling of wanting to have a better body than another woman just to have this hierarchy of desirability. I do not want the feeling of my partner having control over my own body, that version of love is something that can be thrown away.
Do not allow someone to define you by your sexual experiences
Looking back at past friendships, there seems like the most obvious display of misogyny from my friend was how threatened she was by my past sexual experiences and her lack thereof. Towards the end of our friendship, the only words she could come up with to try and hurt me was “whore” and a plethora of other unsavory insults. This is a product of someone else’s own sexual insecurities. Her disgust transparently exhibited the truth of her fears, fear that I knew more about my own body than she ever would about her own. But it is not my problem or my duty to absolve her tendency to exemplify just how fragile her insecurities are.