Love and relationships, Published on Medium

A Letter To My Dramatic Teenage Self

It was never your fault.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Dear Younger Jill,

First of all, your world is not coming to an end.

I know right now, you’re in bed, crying your eyes out and threatening your boyfriend with suicide if he decides to break things off with you.

I also know you can feel my eyes rolling, and the sense of being judged is overwhelming you. You’re thinking “it’s bad enough that other people judge me, now my 32 year old self is judging me too?”

No, I’m not. I’m here to tell you what your mother should have been there to tell you — it will get better and it’s no use crying over a boy like that.

You’re probably thinking “isn’t my mother your mother too?”

They’re the same person, but two very different individuals.

She’s not there with you now, and the only memories you have of her are the ones where she’s either in bed or stuck in front of the computer, and her constant yelling over your little wrong doings.

It seemed like nothing you did was ever good enough for her.

Even then, when she left two years ago, you convinced yourself that it was because of you, and that she didn’t love you.

I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. It was FOR you.

You miss her but you’re also angry at her. You refuse to speak to her when she calls and you refuse to speak about her to anyone. It will be that way for awhile, but you need to know why she did what she did.

She did not want to burden her teenage daughter with the turmoil of her depression, especially when you’re going through one of the most exciting part of your life.

You needed a stronger parent to guide and support you, and she knew your father would have been able to do that better without having to take care of her as well.

She was right.

It wasn’t fair for you or dad. But you had each other, and he made you the strong woman I am today.

She’ll come back into your life in a few years and it’ll take another few to mend the broken relationship. But you’ll be glad you gave her that opportunity.

That’s when she’ll start becoming my mother — the loving woman who supports and rallies for me and someone I can confide in.

My advice to you is to not take so long to forgive her. She’ll always be there for you, but you’ll be moving far away from her to start your own life and family.

Treasure the time you will have with her and let go of the anger you feel for her now. I know you think she should have tried talking to you, but you’ll realize you wouldn’t have understood what she was going through until much later.

This will be the biggest lesson in forgiveness for you.


Now back to that boy you’re crying over.

Wipe your tears and sit up because you need some tough love.

Stop being so dramatic.

You’re not going to kill yourself if he breaks up with you. You know it deep down that it’s not worth it. Don’t try to guilt him into staying with you just because he’s done the same to you. You’re not karma.

He is just the beginning of many more heartbreaks. This is your first real relationship and I still have no idea why our father allowed you to date at such a young age. But you’ll learn a lot from this and the other ones to come.

I know it’s hard to process all the different feelings you’re having. It probably feels like being on a never-ending rollercoaster.

Some days, it feels like he’ll be the one you marry. On other days, you have this nagging feeling that you deserve better.

YOU DO.

It wasn’t your fault he cheated on you. You were right to not have sex when you weren’t ready. You’re strong that way and you’ll just grow stronger.

He may seem like everything you’ve ever wanted, but let’s face it — you don’t really know what you want, and you certainly don’t know what you need yet.

He’ll take away your trust in people for awhile. He’ll give you the presumption that it is normal to feel insecure, jealous, and insignificant if you’re in relationship. How else would you show him you love him if you didn’t get jealous over every little thing?

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

You’ll learn that a loving relationship consists of mutual respect, genuine admiration, support for each other, and team work.

You’ll find yourself coming out stronger after each heartbreak. You’ll struggle with trust issues for while, especially in your next relationships. But you’ll come to realize that the right one for you will never give you a reason to not trust him.

Things always happen for a reason.

It feels horrible having to go through it and sometimes it feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You’ll just have to toughen up and try to find the silver lining in everything.

That’s how you’ll start looking at life and that is what will make you stronger.


If I could tell you to change one thing in your life right now, it would be to not let the negativity get to you.

You’ve always allowed other people’s opinion deter you from what you truly want to do. It is time to stop and listen to your heart and mind a little more.

Figure out what you really want to do, who are you now and who do you want to be, what do you want out of life, and how are you going to achieve all of that.

Don’t let people’s opinion steer you away from the path you want to build for yourself. Don’t be dwell in the toxic things people say about you.

You are not spoilt. You are not fat, and you are definitely not dumb.

You are a beautiful, intelligent young girl with a good head on her shoulders, with a little touch of color and drama.

You’ll prove all that to them one day, and even then it won’t be enough. But it wouldn’t matter anymore because you’ve outgrown it. You’ll come to realize that people can act any way they want. That is the judge of their character. How you respond to it is a judge of yours.

I promise that once you learn to love yourself, you will become the best version of yourself. Listen and trust yourself, and everything will fall into place.

With love,

Jill

Love and relationships, Published on Medium

Recovering from emotional abuse

How I found myself again…

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Photo by Michelle Bonkosky on Unsplash

I’d like to think that my relationship track record wasn’t too bad, but I can’t claim that it was ever good. I’ve had three long-term relationships throughout 15 years or so, where I was cheated on, emotionally blackmailed, and just generally made to feel horrible about myself.

The last relationship was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It left me feeling so self-conscious, insecure, and indifferent. For the longest time, I felt like 6 years were flushed down the drain along with any semblance of self-worth, and I berated myself for not breaking it off sooner.

It took me almost three years to find myself again. The damage was done and I knew it was going to be long climb back up. I started with the one thing I knew would have an immediate impact on how I looked at things.

I threw myself into my work.

I’ve always been an ambitious person. I once had a framed picture of the quote “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”. I was constantly aiming for promotions or ways to professionally develop myself. That all took a step back when my ex stomped on my goals by accusing my of trying to emasculate him. I felt guilty for prioritizing work instead of our relationship. I felt horrible that I was trying to earn more money and didn’t consider his feelings about it.

I was made to feel I had to slow down just so he could catch up. I spent most of my time feeling torn between being the “perfect girlfriend” and career woman.

It took some time to refocus my goals after the breakup, but I remember feeling that rush of excitement knowing I could focus on my work without feeling bad about it.

I decided what I wanted to achieve and I worked hard for it. I volunteered for projects, helped out in other departments, and enrolled in a mentoring program. I attended all the conferences and training I could handle, which distracted me from the bad days and made me feel productive. I celebrated the end of 2018 with a promotion and a couple awards.

I started working out.

My ex used to comment on how I looked — from my weight to the clothes I chose to wear. Now, I can appreciate constructive feedback on what might look good on me, but the two comments he made that stuck with me were “you dress like an old hag” and “who would want to have sex with an elephant”.

That sent my self-esteem into a downward spiral and it finally hit rock bottom when he cheated on me.

Since work was going well after the breakup, I decided to work on how I looked. I started working out religiously in the beginning and then slowing it down to a steadier pace. I started experimenting with different styles of makeup and clothes.

There’s a saying that if you look good on the outside, you’ll feel good on the inside, and that rang true for me. For the longest time, I didn’t realize how horrible I felt inside and it reflected how I looked on the outside. It was a vicious cycle. I knew I had to break it by looking good FOR ME.

I started spending time with myself.

Holidays, shopping sprees, spa days… you name it, I did it for myself. Work was going well by this time and I was lucky to have money of my own. Before this, all I did was work, cook, clean, eat, and sleep. I felt like I didn’t have the time or the want to spoil myself from time to time.

My very first splurge was a round trip to the UK to visit my relatives whom I’ve not seen for more than seven years. I went with my best friend and I spent my hard earned money on a huge plate of fun without a side serving of guilt.

I had dinners alone, sat a café for hours just reading a book, and a couple more hours at the park just looking up at the sky. I was finally at peace and genuinely happy with myself.

The end results?

I learned to be a little selfish about my time and effort and to love myself before I even begin to love anyone else. What once appeared to be just dull grey are now in vibrant colors, and it created a ripple effect in my life as a whole.

It healed my relationship with people, it made me work more productively, and it led me to meet a man who genuinely loves me for all that I am. I’m nowhere close to being the best version of myself, but he makes me want to continue doing better for me.

I realized other women have gone through much worst, and I consider myself fortunate to have gotten away. My only hope is that my experiences are relatable and provide a break in the clouds for some.

The road to recovery is never a short one. The one thing I’m sure of is that something was preparing me for the life I now lead.


Also published on Medium