Today, I turn 22 years old. Last night, I was reflecting on my 21st year and realizing how much has changed in a year. I just wanted to talk about this because I’m sure everyone can relate to this somehow.

A year ago today, I was living in an apartment in my hometown with my boyfriend. I vividly remember him making me breakfast. From what I can recall, we were both happy at the time. I remember it was the warmest day we had that spring. After breakfast, we got ready and took Koda to the community park and we played soccer and ran her around until she was completely exhausted. I think the reason I remember this day so well was because it was one of the last good days we had together; one of the last days we were truly happy being with each other.

It’s been exactly a year and things are completely different. I’m happily single, living in an entirely new city and province. I am so much stronger than I was a year ago. I totally erased the man I thought loved me from my life. Him and his toxicity are gone from my life, though he’s tried many times to get back in contact with me, I’ve ignored his messages and never intend to reply to him again. We made a deal that once everything with the apartment was dealt with, we would go our separate ways (or at least I thought we did. The more I think about it, the more I believe it was just another attempt at manipulation). See, I was going to tell him first but he suggested it before I could and I agreed and told him I was about to suggest the same thing. It seemed to catch him off guard. I think his plan was to suggest we go our separate ways and then he thought I would break down and beg him not to leave me; for me to tell him that he was all I had. Basically, he wanted me to want him back, to stay friends with me. Clearly, it backfired on him. He was completely delusional throughout our breakup. He would be a total jerk one day/night, then he would be apologetic the next day/night. This went on for weeks due to the apartment rental lease issues we had. I couldn’t block his number until everything was dealt with that had to do with the apartment. He would text me and accuse me of taking his stuff even though I never took anything of his. Why he thought I would steal his stuff is beyond me. Like I said, he was completely delusional. One day, he randomly texted me while my mom and I were driving to the apartment to clean it (for inspection) and he told me about where his weed was stashed. You may be wondering why? Well, that, I also have no answer for. I asked him why he told me about his weed stash and I didn’t get a proper answer. He f****d with my mind through text messages for weeks. When I was finally able to block his number, it was bittersweet. The reason it felt bitter was because he protected me and if I ever felt I was in danger or felt really anxious, I could call him and it would calm me down and make me feel safe. That’s really the only reason. I didn’t have a safety net anymore. I was on my own. It was scary at first. It also felt sweet because I felt free. I was free from his toxic and manipulative personality and behavior. I could talk to whoever I wanted and I didn’t have to feel bad or be scared or worried about what he might think.

Throughout that relationship, I grew further and further apart from my parents. But through the breakup, my relationship with my parents grew stronger than it’s been in a long time. I now feel like I can talk to them about anything and they will listen, understand, and give me advice. They won’t ever judge. I kept to myself for years, worried what they may think or say. It was stupid but I didn’t think they would understand. Now, I know they will help me with whatever I need.

I’m not the same person I was a year ago. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned to be okay with being alone. I had a really good heart, too good. I was taken advantage of, lied to, and hurt way too many times by the person I thought loved me; the person I loved. I don’t give my heart to just anyone. In fact, I rarely give my heart to people so when I give my heart to someone, that’s a big deal. My heart isn’t as big as it was a year ago. I feel I’m strong enough to let go if I have to. Goodbyes will always be hard but not as much as they used to be. If someone hurts me in any way, I won’t stick around and let them treat me like trash. I know I deserve better.

It’s crazy how what feels like a blink of an eye, people who may have been your entire world, who you cared about more than yourself, are gone. Poof. A year (or more) of memories made, turned to dust before your eyes. People leave our lives as fast as they came in. I read a quote somewhere…I can’t remember who it was by…I just looked it up. It’s apparently by Frank Ocean. The quote is: “We met for a reason, either you’re a blessing or a lesson”. I think that’s very true. People come into our lives either to bless us with their presence or they leave, teaching us a lesson. I’m more aware and I understand that quote so much more now.

I have no idea what this next year will bring. I hope it will bring great friends and a ton of good memories. I’m sure there will be bumps and tough lessons I will learn but it’s all a part of life and that’s the only way you can grow and be better.

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