"wear your tragedies as armor, not shackles."
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The difficulty with the term "abusive relationship" is that it means something different to everyone, depending on his or her own experiences, the stories of people close to them, and what they've seen in the media or on television. Their opinions may even differ on what constitutes "abuse." There is physical abuse. There is verbal and emotional abuse. Even then, each category has its own spectrum of severity. I'm not here to write a report on the definitions and different types of abuse.
I remember everything about the very first moment I saw him -- really saw him. We had been in the same class all year, but for some reason, on that particular afternoon I looked over my left shoulder to the back row of the lecture hall, and my gaze automatically landed on him. Even though this was years ago now, I can still see the sparkle in his eyes as he laughed with the guys next to him. His dimples accentuated, his forearms resting on the desk in front of him with his checkered button-down shirt sleeves just slightly rolled up. "He is cute," was the only thought in my mind. Too cute for me. It wasn't until months later that we actually spoke, but I always go back to that very first moment purely for its tranquility. Before the pain, before the chaos, before the hurricane that we became.
Butterflies: Check. Mutual attraction: Check. It's easy to fall for him when you first discover the spark between the two of you, but before you get in over your head, ask yourself if he does these things.
Mocktails will save your life. As a casual wine drinker (it's 5 o'clock somewhere), I had to immediately find a substitute beverage for my evenings and social events. Sparkling water became my go-to, either alone or with juices and fresh or frozen fruit (still served in a wine glass for old times' sake). La Croix and cranberry-apple is my staple, but don't forget about smoothies and any (virgin) summer cocktail. When out at the bars, soda water and a lime will keep anyone from asking you where your drink is.
Over the years, I had given a lot of thought to quitting drinking. The first thing that troubled me about it was the word “alcoholic,” and, worse, having to admit that I was one. I had a problem with its connotation. In my mind, alcoholics were the people that drank the mouthwash under their sink for a buzz. That wasn’t me. Plus, as long as I didn’t drive after drinking, to me that counted as drinking responsibly.