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Growing pains

Seeing how hurt turns into growth and lessons

By Nani CruzPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
Growing pains
Photo by Oswaldo Ibáñez on Unsplash

I wonder what it would feel like to share my insecurities in my relationship and not have it end with being screamed at.

Having a boyfriend with a mental illness is no easy task. Carina knew this from plenty of experience. Take her first boyfriend for example. Some could blame immaturity, but from the inside she could see the instability and manipulation.

“If you wear makeup, I won’t talk to you or kiss you.” Seven year later, somehow that one sticks with her the most. Not because she even cared about makeup, but because it was said to her in a room full of people. Let’s not forget the mood swings and when he would punch the closest thing when he was upset. Luckily, thag closest “thing” was never her, but it left her scared nonetheless.

Her last ex-boyfriend was not much easier. Memories from that relationship have faded in the years since, but she still recalls the self-medicating and the minimizing language he would use with her. He was most clever with his words, which would hopefully compensate for lack of physical strength if he ever found himself in an altercation. The constant invalidation and disregard for how he hurt her was nothing compared to how he treated her once she finally broke up with him. The lies he spread about her, even to her own family. The stress he caused her from endless threats. The name calling of “whore” and “slut” through unwanted texts for weeks after the breakup. She bled for weeks from the stress and never quite recovered from the anxiety that caused her. Which is exactly why it took her over half a year to even consider dating again.

And now she’s here. In her longest relationship yet. One where they talk about the future and everyone thinks them such a power couple. Little do they know that pain on the inside, behind that closed door, beyond the social media fronts.

After so long together, the fights and issues evolve into new ones as older transgressions are resolved. It seems like nothing will end the cycle of one problem being solved, yet another emerging from its end. Maybe it is not even an end, just a vicious cycle.

No matter that Carina is no psychologist to understand the ebbs and flows in their problems. All she knows is the way she has felt with Kai, yet how he makes her feel, is a steady rhythm of highs and lows.

Maybe that’s love. At least that is why she tries to convince herself. Why wouldn’t it be love? Everyone on the outside praised how amazing of a couple they were.

That's why it shocked the world when she finally left him. It took her so long to build the courage to do so. How can I leave someone with a disability and not be judged? How do I convince anyone that things were actually toxic and it was never the wheelchair?

Eventually, she said fuck it. Let them think what they will. It wasn't their mental health that was being degraded by the situation.

Fast forward a few months, Carina is discovering a love for life, herself, and her body she never knew she could possess. A newfound love for hiking and nature, a strengthened appreciation for her relationship with her family, a stronger emphasis on relationship building with friends. She was strong enough to choose herself. Some days it is still hard to to so, but it's a learning process. One that was scary to embark on, but has been freeing ever since.

Now she has the patience, security, vulnerability, and healthy mindset to love the man who treats her better than a fairytale. Who validates her. Who embraces her at her highs and lows. Who learns her soul, as well as her body. Who motivates her. Who pushes her. Who brings adventure and excitement into her life. Who serves her with love in a variety of ways. Who pulls her to sit on the couch at 2 a.m. to talk things out when she's hurting. Who takes the time to learn her culture. Who unashamedly shows her off to friends and family. Who is planning a future her in it. Who actively, willingly, and consistently gives his love and affection. Who accepts absolutely ever single part of her.

Most importantly, she is healed enough to love him with the same ferocity and reciprocate all this, and more.

If only Carina could go back to tell her 14 year old self that the growing pains were worth the end result. That the pain was worth it.


About the Creator

Nani Cruz

As a 23 year old grad school student, I spend a lot of time writing academically. Now I’m taking time to write creatively and enjoy creating stories about whatever makes me happy.

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