Living Without Regrets, Including an Abusive Ex

by: Danielle Ternyila

There was a time in my life that I certainly felt like I could be doing better, like I could be in a better place, in better shape, even with a better a partner. My best, as hard as I tried, was no where near “good enough”. Some days I couldn’t get out of bed, most I walked around an emotionally-drained robot going to work then bed again, but I could never shake the feeling like I needed something better. I needed happiness in my life.

I had this whole idea of what my life should have been like instead, blamed myself for the consequences of my own choices, and subsequently carried a lot of guilt. There was a whole support system I knew I could lean on, but I was embarrassed by the version of myself I had become. How could I return to my parents and admit to the mess I made?

These regrets mostly surrounded a naive relationship gone wrong where I let too many red flags slip by, letting the bad boyfriend feed me his excuses and blind me with seemingly innocent young love. I actually met him through church in high school and had been close friends for several years before our love story took an unexpected turn down his rabithole, but he had me convinced we’d live happily ever after, rather than blogging my how to get over an abusive ex memoir today.

While I was determined and ambitious in my early college years, my ex spent his time digging himself a hole he’d quickly suck me down too. Friends and family noticed I was no longer around much. I gained a lot of weight. I lost my drive and motivation, while he seemed to get off on cutting me down, making me feel weak, and hurting me. He knew just the right things to say to keep me from noticing just how bad it was until it was maybe “too late”.

When I lost myself during these “dark times” as my old college friends refer to it now, there was an a-ha moment when I realized just how dangerous a situation I had put myself in, fought my way out to my car, and drove home to my family. It was the hardest decision for me at the time, and it was one I had tried to make countless times before, for fear of being alone or what he might do to me if I tried to run. On this one and final night with him, however, I decided I’d rather be alone than be the girl he beats down to feel high, and I rathered face the humility of having let it go on so far and ask my family and friends for help and safety.

That decision felt so easy that night, but once I got out of that toxic relationship, I actually felt even more lost and barely recognized the woman in the mirror anymore. So I took it day by day to start pulling my life back on track and getting to that “better” life I had envisioned for myself, even if it meant being on my own. I wanted happiness, and I was determined to find that for myself.

I had to do a lot of work on my mental health again, and the biggest thing I learned was to just do my best, taking it day by day; some days you’ll wake up on the right side of the bed, and on others you may need to sleep in and cry it out a little. I didn’t pass every course during the unfortunate semester aligning with the demise of my dangerous love affair, but I made it through some of those classes with a passing grade, which was the best I could do at the time. The following semester, feeling lighter without an angry controlling man with a drinking problem in tow, I doubled my course load to graduate with my class and old friends, and with time to study abroad too, because that was the best I could do. This makes me proud, knowing I have done my best and continue to.

If you do just your best, then no matter the outcomes, you will feel confident in that you did everything you could, and when things seem to go so wrong like losing a job or being dragged down someone else’s destructive path, there is still a lesson to be learned that will help you grow and do better next time. I learned my worth and who truly deserved my attention; I learned how strong I am, and I used this to skyrocket myself into the next and best version of myself, focusing all of my time on myself, my health, and my needs before anyone else’s. With that, I can’t say I regret any if the darkest parts of my past because they made me the person I am today, and I’ve just been doing my best since.

It’s too easy to get caught up comparing ourselves to where we should be or how our lives should feel based on what we see online and around us, but the only actual measurement of your success is the growth from where you were yesterday and where you are today.

By doing just my best and holding myself accountable only to what I can do, I hold no regrets when I look back. I don’t compare myself to others or the idea of where I should be because I know I am doing my best in my life, my career, my family, my business, and my love life. Be the best version of yourself by waking up every day with the confidence that you are going to do your best. When you are doing your best, you won’t have any regrets.