Do you like this dress?

A store full of the latest beautiful clothes, shoes as far as the eye can see, soft leather purses, sparkly jewels and makeup in every color offers so much to the fashion lover. I was and always will be a fashion lover. Fashion makes me happy. Fashion makes me creative. Fashion helped me express myself and my inner character that day. When I was in my 20s, I had a girl in my office tell me she looked forward to seeing what I would wear to work. She laughed and said that some days I looked like I was going to rave and the next I looked like Audrey Hepburn. I took it as a compliment. I was comfortable enough to be me every day. I wore Converse with skirts, big flowers on my lapel, high heels with cuffed jeans and sleek black dresses. It was me.

So when asked over the past 10 or 12 years, “Do you like this dress?” I did’t answer from my truth anymore. My first thought was, “Would he like it?” I was constantly trying to impress him. Constantly trying to make him fall in love with me. Constantly trying to get him to SEE me. Like he saw me when we first met. I wanted to see those eyes look at me again. I desperately, so desperately wanted this. It is so crazy to me that someone who walked the streets of Manhattan with a giant fuchsia silk flower on her lapel with coordinating Converse would ever dress to make someone else happy. Now I am back to dressing like me, for me. It feels so amazing. So free. I know now that I wasn’t my true self for so many years. I was a puppet with so many strings. One string was even attached to my love of fashion and would control my perception of myself. He had every string in his sick hands and he knew it. He loved manipulating me with his strings of lies, rejection, betrayal, mean words and false love. Shutterfly sends those “remember six years ago” files and I look at me at old photos and get so sad. I changed my hair to what he wanted. So often I did it myself because I felt guilty that I didn’t work to pay for it. I let go of my fashion because I didn’t want to spend too much money and upset him. Someone knew I wasn’t myself two years ago when I walked in my kid’s school in oversized, poor fitting sweatpants. I had hit the bottom of my pain and just didn’t care anymore. I had given up on me. It was all about him in every way. I cannot blame him completely though. I let him get into my head and change the way I thought. I let his comments affect me. I let his rejections and betrayals make me try harder and love bigger. I let his anger make me feel guilty and ask forgiveness. I let him stay longer than he should have stayed. I let him steal my truth. Sure he was the sick monster knowingly doing it all to me, but I could have said stop at any time.

It has taken me almost a year to forgive myself for letting him throw away my oversized flowers and Converse sneakers to match. A very long year filled with so much pain and guilt towards myself and my kids. What kind of example was I? I shouldn’t feel guilty for loving someone that much. For loving someone so much that you think you can see beyond the dark shell to a person filled with honest light and love. I love big always. I don’t know how to love small. It is who I am. I wear giant flowers on my lapel, diamond pins in my hair, memories on my wrist, Converse in many colors, stilettos and jeans, Roman Holiday dresses, fun t-shirts, baseball caps, makeup but never oversized, poor fitting sweatpants in public. I let myself down in so many ways over the past 17 plus years since I met him. I wanted to be loved back so badly. I know now that I was looking to the wrong person to give what I deserve. I was asking someone who can only love himself to love me. His love comes with strings, many strings. I never wanted to be a puppet. I pitied women like that when I was young. I became that woman and I don’t want pity now. I want to be a lesson. A guide so others don’t follow me. A voice to teach about emotional abuse and the long term pain it causes. An inspiration for others to get out or never even enter with a narcissistic person. So now I ask, “Do I like this dress?” instead of “Do you like this dress?” Be true to yourself. You are one of a kind. You are beautifully imperfect inside and out. You are what you choose to be not what someone else says you are. The sick monster will never make me feel like a piece of shit again (sorry but only word to really make my point). I am a hero in my own life….I am a (She)ro in Converse and stilettos depending on the day.

Breathe out judgements, breathe in confidence. Breathe out fear, breathe in pride. Breathe out attachment, breathe in letting go. Breathe out oversized, poor fitting sweatpants, breathe in feeling amazing and loving yourself.

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