As a senior in high school, I was in a relationship with a boy named Tom*, who was extremely abusive. Emotionally and mentally.
I was in this relationship for a year – like many, it took me a long time to realize what was going on.
My senior year should have been a blast: I had three dance classes, great friends and was finally on dance company. Plus, I loved seminary. So, you know, it should have rocked.
But, being in a relationship where your partner toys with your mind and emotions is terribly draining. Some days were great and he made me feel so loved – others he made me feel like I was the worst girlfriend ever, undeserving of anyone else’s love but his own. And I believed him. Truly, with all my being, I believed that no one could love me better. It’s sad, pathetic even, but true.
Through this year, I became severely depressed. Unknowingly. I became closed off and distant from everyone I loved and cared about – family and friends. My hobbies became uninteresting and less desirable to pursue. I lost important friendships. I lost respect. Worst of all, I felt utterly alone. While all of this hurt and I was even blinded in the moment, the thing I lost that was most important was myself.
Tom was not only abusive but possessive as well. He didn’t like me wearing makeup or wearing my hair nicely when I wasn’t with him. He didn’t want me cutting my hair because girls should have long hair. Then, he didn’t want me going to my senior dances (he lived in the Salt Lake Valley and I lived in the St. George Valley).
Tom was also paranoid. If I didn’t answer my phone right away, text or phone call, he assumed the worst of me. That I had to be cheating on him. Especially with his friend who I sat next to in history class because I was the only person he knew at school because he was a new student there my senior year. So, basically I couldn’t have friends. Thus, losing my friends.
Changes – Inside and Out
Throughout this year I had a few experiences that I have really stuck with me and I will probably never forget. Those who know me well, know that I danced throughout high school. I’m not talking drill team. I mean, classical ballet, modern and some jazz and tap. And I remember being in dance class one day and seeing myself in the mirror.
I saw something I had never seen before. My hip and rib bones had become quite prominant. They stuck out while I was just standing there, doing nothing. I remember the shock I felt. The embarrassment. The overwhelming emotion of not understanding why. Why? Why was I so skinny? How could this be? How did I not notice until now?
Depression is a blinding and cruel companion when allowed to take over and have the upper hand.
There was another point, close to the end of the school year, my senior year, during a dance concert rehearsal, where I broke down. I had been texting Tom. Short version, he told me I was a slut for dancing and he wouldn’t be coming to the concert because he wouldn’t support me for being so immodest. I was standing backstage on the verge of tears when another girl, Sarah* on the company asked me if I was alright. I looked up at her and just broke. Tears flowed down my face and I felt myself falling apart.
Sarah didn’t pry. She didn’t tell me to stop crying or make a big scene. She saw me crying and embraced me. Sarah, without any hesitation had wrapped me in her arms and just let me cry. If others came up to ask what was wrong, she kindly told them to leave me alone. I will always be grateful for to Sarah for that moment. For her Christlike action and love.
Remember, when you see someone who needs comfort, comfort them. Don’t pry and continually ask, “What’s wrong?” because really, it doesn’t help. Just embrace and let them cry. Let them go through the emotions. Let them feel. Be a Sarah. Remember to be Christlike.
Seeing the Damage
There is one more moment I want to share. This moment, I was alone. In my room. I had a full sized, body mirror in my room. One night, I was sitting on the floor next to this mirror. Not looking at myself for the longest time. Just sitting there in silence, thinking to myself. And then – I looked. I looked straight into the eyes of that girl in the mirror and you know what I saw? Nothing. Emptiness. No light coming from her eyes. No joy. Or sadness. No pain. No humor. I saw no soul. No love! No Life! … Nothing. Just a numbness that seemed to always be there.
Then, something began to emerge. A realization was forming. I didn’t know that girl in the mirror. She wasn’t me. That wasn’t Corrinne. She was – she was a stranger. A lifeless stranger. Then, a miracle – a blessing began. A realization happened. I was lost.
What happened to me? When did I get like this? How did I allow this to even happen. Who had I become? If I didn’t recognize myself, did anyone?
This day was a turning point for me as I began to figure out what had happened. It was soon after that I broke up with Tom and started to feel happy again.
Beginning to Heal
The day after I broke up with Tom, not even 24 hours later, I had my last seminary class. Testimony meeting. I knew I had to bear my testimony. As soon as the floor was opened to us, I stood up and walked up to the front of the room. And as I bore my testimony, a confirmation as real as you and me embraced my whole body. Something I hadn’t felt in a long time. I knew that I had made the right decision in letting Tom go. That it was time to move on with my life.
I was so grateful for that moment.
I’m not sure why I had to experience all of that hurt. Because I’m a broken person. But I have learned from it. I have grown from it. And I have become better because of it. For that, I’m grateful.
Now, for those of you who haven’t experienced something like this, may have a hard time understanding. But those of you who have, or those of you who are, right now, please, you are not alone.
I know that even though I couldn’t feel my Savior watching over me during this time, He never left. He was always there for me and guided me without me knowing or understanding.
Please know, I do not write all of this for your pity. For sympathy or even myself. I wrote about these things and experiences because I want others to know and understand they are not alone.
Your Savior understands more fully than anyone. He has felt all the pain of this world. He endured that for you. For me. He has a perfect understanding and waiting to help you. Embrace you. Lead you and lift this burden from you. Because you do not have to endure this alone. Your Lord understands.
Others like me understand and those of us who have moved on, want to help you. Lift you. Embrace you. I truly desire to help others know they are not alone. That our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are real.
The atonement is real.
Their love is real.
And true and pure happiness is real.
*names have been changed for anonymity