I'm finally starting to realize the extent of the damage and abuse to which Theo subjected me. A month after I returned home I fell in love with one of my friends from school: Tanner Harris. It was accidental, as I had come back fully aware that no one would want to date someone like me. I felt ruined. I realized through him that the only people that would see me that way weren't really worth my attention anyway. It was sort of a rebirth; I began to feel whole again, which was huge for me.
Tanner and I have been almost inseparable since we started dating, but in the midst of one of our rare disagreements, he called to my attention something I haven't even noticed, something maybe I've grown accustomed to: a fear of "breaking the rules", so to speak. Theo was a control freak. Being with him impeded my communication skills to an extent: i.e., not saying what I need to in fear it'd upset the other person. I lost a part of who I was: once upon a time I was not afraid to break the rules and live a little bit. I found it amazing that after all this time my mentality had still not changed. I was still a follower, afraid of what would happen if I rebelled. I made it a challenge to break free of that mold.
Tanner had only known me briefly before I left suddenly for Washington. I'd let him know my plans, but at the time, we were only classmates and barely friends. Occasionally he would give me rides home. He was not the type of person to try to talk me out of going; I know now that he could see I'd made up my mind. When I came back, I was a totally different person. I felt much older than my age of 19 years; I had been worn out and beaten down. Being with Tanner allowed some of my old personality to shine through, but after he brought his concerns to my attention, I knew I would make it my goal to show him what I was like before March of 2012.
Almost a year after I met Theo, the damage still lingers, and so does my hate. I want people to know that I am not perfect, that writing this blog hasn't magically solved everything. I am stronger, but I am still human. I'm starting to embrace who I was before the trauma. Not a day passes when I don't have some reminder of those two fateful months in Washington. Even looking in the mirror at my short hair reminds me of how Theo used to chastise me for it, demanding I grow it out so I wouldn't be mistaken as a lesbian.
I've come to realize that the greatest revenge I can inflict on Theo is to be who I was before he came along; to forget him. It's a task easier said than done when many days my mind rests on wishing he were dead or suffering somewhere. If I dwell too much on him, he will once again consume me. It is better for me not to focus on the negativity and suffering I endured, but to look ahead. I am surrounded by a loving family, a compassionate boyfriend and plenty of friends. Looking at it from this angle enables me to see my situation in a more positive light, and I think I owe it to everyone to bring back the girl they knew before Theo and move on with my life.
I want everyone who reads this to learn from what I did and avoid going through a similar situation. I know how hard it is to even ask for help when you're in the midst of an abusive situation like I was, and I know there are situations much worse than mine. Know you are not alone if you've suffered similar or worse abuse: know you have the strength inside to break free, because you deserve so much better.