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I’m sitting here at the dining room table during Ramadan, a holy Muslim fasting month, thinking about what I could name this post but I couldn’t find one that was apt for what I’m about to talk about.

Just recently, I’ve been having these thoughts in my head about what life was worth and how it’s been changing right in front of me. I can imagine myself watching my actions, words, thoughts and feelings as if I were watching a movie of my own life, and weirdly enough, things are happening; things that I never thought would be happening even at the worst or best times of my life, all working out in my favour.

Ever since my toxic ex-boyfriend and I broke up, I’ve been down in the slums. It felt like all meaning to life was being sucked away from me, and considering he had been my first boyfriend, I felt like I was truly losing all of life.

My ex-boyfriend wasn’t a bad person. He isn’t, in a matter of words. But in some ways, he was so bad, so, so bad that it made my mental health deteriorate. It made me doubt my self-worth to the point that I couldn’t think of anything good about myself except that if I lost him then I would have lost everything. To think about it now, it was mental abuse.

I was told by him that he was unable to love me because I wasn’t beautiful enough. I was told by him that if I just grew up, then maybe people would start to respect me more. I was told by him that if I did something a certain way, or dressed a certain way, or looked a certain way then perhaps, I would find love. It was he, who made me feel awful for walking out of the house with my mediocre newly-learned makeup skills by saying that my makeup was “heinous”.

He made me feel inadequate on so many levels. He compared me to ex-girlfriends, citing that at some points in his life, he wanted to marry all of them but then he would blatantly tell me that he saw no future with me, and yet, he still continued to date me just to boost his own ego and use me for his own selfish reasons.

Oh, I was a fool for letting him abuse me like that.

Never again.

I clung onto him for months after we broke up because I was madly in love with him. I loved everything about him and when he hurt me, I would make up excuses for him no matter how much I knew that what he said and did was wrong. I hated him but at the same time, I loved him. And it was toxic behaviour coming from me.

At this moment, I haven’t spoken to him in a month. It’s considered to be an achievement because whenever I tried to leave him, I would go back to him within days to a week. I would find myself craving for his attention and a conversation, even if it would end in heartache.

But now, it’s different.

Now, I stop writing him the letters that I will never send. I can look at his pictures and not imagine myself crying for him anymore as how I did all those months ago. I realise the standards and worth that I set for myself, and if a man is unable to fulfil that then he is not a man worthy of me at all.

Now it’s different because every day, I look in the mirror and I see this beautiful girl staring back at me. I never understood her beauty before. I was convinced that she was everything but beautiful but now, I see it more clearer than ever. I see the smile that always struggled to be beautiful turn into light, I see the hair that had grown out so becomingly after his criticism of its short length months prior, I see the olive skin that tans brown instead of pink under the sun.

And I see where the pain has healed slowly but surely. 

The beautiful glow that illuminates beyond physical appearance – an inner beauty that never struck me until now.

Some day, I wish I’d never met him. 

I would find myself in a daze, thinking about how he could lie to me so easily, to use me and abuse me in different ways and never bat an eyelash. His manipulation still haunts me and the sickening words he used to make me commit such heinous crimes never fail to make me tear up. I would feel my heart swell up in pain and the lump form in my throat but then I remind myself that the time is over. I remind myself that he’s so far away from me that he cannot hurt me anymore. 

I remind myself that even though he had hurt me, I had the support of everyone I loved and he had no one; the only reason why I never wanted to let go of him. 

He is a sad, lonely boy who can never understand why no one likes him. He will never understand how his words and actions impacted me even when I’ve tried so hard to convey my pain to him. He will never understand the trauma he put me through. He will never understand the sacrifices I made for him just because I loved him.

And he will never understand the true meaning of being free and beautiful, because he is not free.

And neither is he beautiful.

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