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My Ex Ghosting Me Was The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me

Her Voice

"God told me I took you as far as you could go. Your parents didn't really teach you how to deal with life-situations," he said over the phone, while I cried on my childhood bed. "Now you can go back to living with mommy and daddy."


I was twenty-five years old, had lost my "dream job" and broke the lease on my first "big girl" apartment. I moved back to Houston after living for nearly two years in a small town where I tried to create an independent life from my parents and form a long-term future with my on-and-off again boyfriend of nearly six years.

I was broke and depressed. I didn't eat and I barely slept. My clothes began to fall loose on my figure because I had lost so much weight. My bank account was in the red. My gas tank was on E. My life was like a bad soap opera, but I had created it.

After that last conversation with my boyfriend at the time, I never heard from him again. I kept hope alive because he said he still loved me and saw a future with me; I just needed to get mentally well. Of course, in my fragile state, I took that as a definite sign that he still cared and we would be back together in the future once I worked on myself.

I called multiple times and left several text messages. I even reached out on social media. He subsequently blocked my number and blocked me from all social media channels. I felt like an outcast. To know someone as more than a best friend, to see all aspects of them good and bad and then to become a stranger is the worst type of poison.

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I felt that pain in my core and it took me months to cognitively realize that he was doing to me like he did with all of his previous relationships before me; he ghosted me.

With the support of more-than-generous friends and family, I repaired my self-esteem and focused on building my businesses as well as pursuing a Master of Business Administration. I found my zeal for life again. I found my inner confidence and embraced my quirks. I fell in love again with a man that valued me and saw himself building a future with me. I had discovered the secure, vibrant and ambitious girl I knew was hiding within the broken woman.

In the throes of a toxic relationship, you keep yourself above the current. You believe in your soul that no matter what harsh trials are thrown at you, love is still greater than hardship. You are unaware that you are a moment from crashing and being taken under. Once you come to your senses, you realize you were choking on all of the lies and being gaslighted. You realize you could have drowned and never recovered.

In realizing how blessed I was to come out of the other side, here are six things I realized over the course of an almost six-year toxic relationship:

You Can’t Depend on Others for Your Happiness

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My ex-boyfriend was my first love. I was nineteen, inexperienced and naive. I had never had a boyfriend before and I thought being in a relationship would make me feel complete. I used to envy my friends that got gifts on Valentine's Day and as I got older, I envied their engagement rings. I depended on my ex-boyfriend to make me happy, even as I saw it made him miserable. As he strived to provide happiness for me, it ate away at his own happiness.

We were young and not even sure how we identified ourselves in this vast and often cold world. As a young woman, I searched for examples on how to act and as a young man, he looked to what he knew. I internalized his personal failings with other women and used that to define my worth as a woman. I craved his validation to make me happy. I desired elaborate gifts and fancy dinner dates to prove that I was where his heart lay -- at the cost of my self-esteem. When he ghosted me, I had to deal with my own personal problems. I was forced to make myself happy. I realized how unfair it was to blame him continuously for his misgivings and hold him hostage in a relationship that he obviously did not value.

It Takes Two to Make a Relationship Toxic

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Often times, we try to blame the other person for a toxic relationship. The problem is that it takes two to make a relationship toxic. I was the first to talk to all my girlfriends and paint this vivid picture of how horrible my ex was: how he still communicated with a girl he cheated on me with; acted ashamed of me around his college friends; made fun of my insecurities and body-shamed me. The details I left out are how I would sometimes start arguments over past transgressions; make fun of how he looked and compare him to other men.

I remained in a toxic relationship, even though I had agency over my decisions.

I chose to ignore advice and stick with someone that made me miserable just to say I was in a relationship.

You are Nobody’s Baby Sitter or Mama

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I loaned my ex a lot of money while he was a struggling teacher. I gave him $1,400 when his car faced repossession and hundreds of dollars here and there when he was late on rent. I wrote his entire graduate school application and he broke up with me once he got accepted into the program on a full tuition scholarship. I had written so many applications and college essays for him, even his previous Teach for America application, that it felt natural. I didn't realize that I was enabling him to become dependent on me as an on-demand Payday Loan or a muse for his applications. What I realized though is that as he didn't mind bank-rolling my lifestyle throughout college, I didn't mind being that constant ATM for him after college. It made me feel special that he looked to me to help him with his problems. What I should have realized is that sometimes you need to deal with your own problems. Alone.

Self-Care is Vital to Your Mental Well-being

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I didn't focus on making sure that I was mentally well when in the relationship and hid how I felt when around his family. One of his aunts even pointed out that I seemed like I had this dark cloud hanging over me and something was amiss with me. That dark cloud was the relationship and the pressures of balancing life, a career and constant parental feedback. Once I focused on checking in with myself, making sure that I wasn't hiding my problems under a pile of ambition or another relationship, I was able to heal.

Don’t Isolate Yourself from Your Friends and Family

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I isolated myself from my friends and family because I knew they did not approve of the relationship. Within the first year of us dating, they pointed out how toxic it was and that he did not value me. My ex-boyfriend even pitted me against my friends by saying that they weren't really my friends and told me about how people at my college made fun of me and that everyone wondered why he would even date me; he was too good for me. He compared me to my friends and even told me that he wished he would have dated one of them because she was so much more mature and that I was a joke, silly and childish.

He crippled my self-esteem to the point where I hated leaving my college dorm because I was scared people were making fun of the way I dressed, talked or even walked. He became my world and I looked to him for validation. When he ghosted me, I realized that my friends were still there and my parents helped with my transition back home. Once he paid me back the money I loaned him, he was nowhere to be found. All along I wish I would have realized my friends and family did care for me and wanted to see me happy.

Exiting a Toxic Relationship Before You are Ghosted is Essential

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If you are being ghosted, you have missed all of the signs that the relationship is not working out and that it is toxic. There were numerous signs that he had tired of the relationship, from our multiple break-ups and make-ups to his continuous comparing of me to other women and the feeling of isolation even within the relationship. When I was a friend, I had seen how he treated a previous ex so coldly by ignoring their calls and acting like they didn't even exist. For some reason, when I witnessed these actions as his friend, it did not click that maybe he was the problem and not the other people. In my naivete, I believed that there was something wrong with them, that they were insane or could not provide him what he needed in a healthy relationship.

I believed that I could be that answer because I was his friend first.

What I realized is that he was a master of lies. He made himself look like the victim, while he was leaving the real victims broken. I am so glad I escaped that personal hell before I ended up in an even worse situation. I sought therapy to deal with this relationship and I am so glad he ended it the way he did. It gave me the chance to see my own major faults and realize that I am the master of my own happiness. People treat you the way you allow them to treat you. I will never again give a man that much power.

Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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