When I was 15 going on 16, I met a guy. We’ll call him Alex. Alex was cute, he was a year older than me, and his flirtatious attitude made me giddy. Every time I was around him I felt excitedly anxious, but now I see that that anxiety stemmed from a lack of self confidence. You see, lovely readers – I couldn’t believe that Alex was talking to me, flirting with me, asking me for my number. I did not view myself as worthy of Alex’s attention. Why? Probably because he had that senior level status, cool-guy vibe, and I was just little wallflower Bella.

Irregardless – there I was, completely enamored, helplessly weak to his attention and my own insecurities. Honestly, we didn’t really know each other when he asked me to be his girlfriend and yet I succumbed to my desire to belong to someone. To be the girl that had the senior boyfriend. Perhaps I should have been a little more hesitant, but naivetĂ© won this round.

It was my junior year of high school. I was in student government, on the Varsity Volleyball team, and taking three AP classes – I was excited, ambitious, and happy. Plus I had a boyfriend. The year was off to a great start.

(This is when it gets hard by the way. To write about this part of my life. It gets hard because I don’t know how to start this part. I don’t know how to start this part because I don’t remember where it all began. I don’t remember the first time I felt afraid. I don’t remember the first time I felt forced to respond to his texts. I don’t remember the first time I said sorry for something that wasn’t my fault. I don’t remember the first time I stopped having lunch with my best friends because he always wanted me to himself. I don’t remember the first time I kept silent, instead of speaking my mind…

I do remember doing absolutely anything to keep him happy. I do remember the first time he was verbally abusive. I do remember the first time he forced himself inside me. I do remember not saying anything. I do remember feeling the words, “Stop! What are you doing?” caught in my throat. So close, just no execution. I do remember brushing it off, telling myself that it was ok, when it was not. o.k. I do remember making excuses for his behavior. I do remember the first time I felt scared about what would happen if I didn’t have sex with him. I do remember feeling relieved when my mother would take my phone away from me as punishment – because it brought a brief reprieve, an excuse he couldn’t argue with for not talking to him. I do remember realizing that what we had was unhealthy, and after I broke up with him I hated myself for still wanting him. And even though it’s been four years, writing about this is still as difficult to confront as if it all happened to me yesterday. Why is it difficult? Because I am not whole.)

I was in an abusive relationship, and because of that I am not whole. And if I’m being honest, I do not think I have ever been whole because if I was whole I never would have allowed myself to stay with a person like Alex. If I was whole, I would have realized that no one ever gets to treat me like that and I would have left him after the first bad sign.

I wish I could say I learned from that experience. But I didn’t because a couple years later I was with yet another controlling guy, manipulating my self, stifling my desires, in order to please.

I wish I knew why I was this way. But I don’t. So all I can do is try to build myself from here. Every day is a constant review of who I am. My life right now is a process of becoming whole.

What is it to be whole? To be whole is to lack self-doubt. To be whole is to believe in ones self. To feel confident in ones actions and decisions every day. Being whole is being able to enter into a relationship with another person and not worry if they will end up like the others..For me right now – being whole is standing up for myself and putting my happiness first. Simply writing this post is helping me become whole because it is an act of acceptance, of love, of forgiveness. By showing the ugly truth, I am healing. And I hope for everyone else in the world who is missing something within, that you too become whole.

I no longer want to be controlled by my past. I want to control my own life, I want to live freely – not in fear of what may happen. So here’s to today. Here’s to tomorrow. Here’s to the rest of my life, of becoming whole.