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[TW: toxic relationship, domestic violence]

When I was 15 years old, I thought I had found my first love. Just like any other person that age, I was pretty dumb and naive when it came to boys — let alone being in a relationship with one. With this being said, I learned a lot over the course of two years while dating my first boyfriend.

I was a sophomore in high school when I became completely infatuated with my first love (let’s call him Jake). My parents never approved of him for many reasons ( now, I understand why), so we never spent time together. Despite this, I was still head over heels for him. Jake and I would text all day and FaceTime every night before bed. Eventually, this interaction wasn’t enough to please Jake, so I decided to start sneaking out to spend time with him. This was obviously a bad idea, and it didn’t end well for me.

After visiting Jake a few times, I was quick to notice that he wasn’t the good guy that I thought he was. Jake was constantly trying to pressure me into doing things I certainly was not ready for, especially when I was only 15. However, when I would say no, Jake would get angry and threaten to cheat or break up with me. Of course, I didn’t want this, so being the dumb, love-struck teenage girl I was, I felt as if I had no option but to comply with whatever he wanted. 

This toxic cycle of control and manipulation persisted for almost a year and a half before I finally decided that I had had enough. I was done. I was tired of crying myself to sleep all the time. I no longer wanted to deal with the lies, the cheating and the sneaking around. I didn’t want to hear his hateful words or deal with his anger when I did something he didn’t like. After several months, I finally mustered up the courage to break up with Jake.

It took a long time for me to be okay again. I spent a lot of time reflecting on the valuable lessons I had learned throughout my relationship. I now know that I should have never put up with the stuff that I did, and I definitely shouldn’t have had to go through the emotional trauma that I went through. I learned that I am worthy of love and respect, and I should not settle for less than I deserve.

It’s now been almost two years since I broke up with Jake, and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. I have grown from a naive, timid girl into a strong, confident woman, and I honestly couldn’t be happier. For anyone who is struggling with a toxic relationship, or if you are experiencing domestic violence, visit https://www.thehotline.org/ to get help today.

Brylee is currently a freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and is a pre-nursing major. She loves to travel, shop, and spend time with her family and friends. In her free time, you can typically find Brylee playing with makeup, painting, or watching TVD on Netflix.
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