Alexa, play "Since U Been Gone"
“But since you been gone, I can breathe for the first time.” (Kelly Clarkson, Since U Been Gone)
Sam thought she loved him. So she spent five years begging him not to leave. One time, she endured weeks of silent treatment after she...well, she's not sure what she did wrong. But it must have been something terrible for her to deserve this from her then-boyfriend.
Sam hoped it would get better soon, but it never did. She thought she would fall apart without him. In reality, she was already falling apart because of him.
It's been a couple of years since Sam ended that toxic relationship. At first, she struggled to tell her family and friends. No one liked him while they were dating. She groaned at the thought of dealing with the "I told you so's." On top of that, Sam wasn't as close with her family and friends anymore. Her ex didn't like them, and Sam wanted to make him happy. So she "chose" to distance herself from them.
It turns out, Sam's family and friends genuinely care about Sam, unlike her ex. They didn't shame her for dating that idiot for five years. Despite anticipating condensation, her families and friends empathetically listened to her stories instead. Additionally, they were excited to hang out with Sam again. This is what a healthy relationship looks like: it's someone eagerly loving you with open arms.
This ordeal led to a realization that Sam is passionate about helping women realize when they're in a toxic relationship. Growing up, people tell you to listen to your loved ones. But when you think you're in love, listening to what you don't want to hear is difficult. There are so many things Sam would've told her younger self.
First, Sam would've told herself to trust her instincts. There were multiple times when Sam genuinely felt like her then-boyfriend was cheating on her. In addition to giving her lengthy silent treatments, she felt him becoming more distant. Additionally, he dramatically shielded his phone screen from Sam and got angry when she asked who he was texting.
When Sam gently brought this up, her ex got mad and told her she was emotional and crazy. He ridiculed Sam, calling her a "silly girl," and told her she's making this up in her head. He gaslit her. When you're in a healthy relationship, your partner will validate your gut feelings instead of defensively belittling you. (By the way, Sam later found out he was cheating on her with multiple people.)
Secondly, Sam would've told herself that when her family and friends expressed their disapproval for the guy she dated, it was out of love and not contempt. It's hard when you're head-over-heels for someone, and your loved ones say he's not good enough.
But they're halting you because they know you deserve better than this piece of trash. Your closest loved ones are not trying to ruin your happiness. It may feel like they're crushing your heart, but their hearts are already broken watching you date someone who's treating you horribly.
Recognizing when you're in a toxic relationship can be difficult when you're in it. Sam had to leave the relationship then view it in hindsight to realize what she experienced was unhealthy. So don't be so hard on yourself. Have extra patience if you know someone dating the wrong person. And remember, you are worthy of love and compassion.
To contact Sam and learn more about this story, follow @sammiddleton25 on Instagram.