My boyfriend didn’t look like the controlling narcissist that he was.

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Anonymous.


It was my university’s annual exhibition for graduating students, and I was one of the models for the fashion graduates who were to walk down the ramp in their final creations. Although I didn’t have great self-esteem, I did this anyway because of the small but impactful little stipend that my university provided to the student models. My boyfriend of 2 years had chosen not to come because he was never really happy with the fact that I participated in this bi-annual university event as a model – I looked attractive to the watching audiences which included guys from our campus.

However, that day something made him change his mind, and he decided to show up suddenly before the show started. I was all dressed up standing outside the fitting room talking to one of my lecturers who was working in the event’s management while waiting for the time to pass as there was almost an hour left for the show to start. We talked about my lecturer’s wife who was pregnant which I was so happy to hear and congratulated him on that.

Once we parted, my boyfriend just appeared from the side where he was leaning against the wall looking at me and immediately got mad at me. He demanded me to tell him what was I talking about with my lecturer but he didn’t believe me when I told him the truth.

Instead, he said that I was lying, and that I was flirting with my lecturer because I was smiling so much while talking. Then he created a scene calling me hateful names like “bitch” and “shameless slut”. This event was one of the countless examples of the [accusations of trying to cheat ] on him that I constantly had to go through whether I worked with male classmates or went out with the girls.

My boyfriend didn’t actually look anything like the controlling narcissist that he really was. To those who knew him from afar or to his own friends he was a sweet, kind, generous and a polite guy always willing to help people and entertain people. However, from the inside, he was a manipulative and damaged person who judged those around him as either worthy or unworthy people, although I had no idea that in his heart he applied the same judgment to me too.

I had gone through a lot of emotional and physical trauma at home before I left for college so my boyfriend’s behavior, although seemingly wrong to me, did not entirely make me take action against it right away and whenever I did try to break up he always came up with very convincing ways to make me change my mind. I always thought I could give him another chance and let it work out this time but he never changed.

Our relationship was becoming more pain than pleasure with every passing day as I felt extremely restricted and helpless and even when my close friends were a problem to him.

Once, while we were away on the beach during semester break he got so mad at me for leaving the room without him in the morning to explore the surroundings, although I had tried hard to wake him up but he had refused, that when I came back in half an hour with wildflowers for him, he threw my stuff outside on the streets. I cried and tried to stop him but nothing would make him stop and he finally left me with my things on the floor and called me back an hour later to pick me up and apologize.

His insecurity and controlling behavior grew each passing day and it was taking a huge toll on my academic and social life as I was always depressed and my going out with friends always resulted in a huge fight with him. He regularly [wanted to have sex] but I had no desire or attraction towards him.

One day he taunted and mocked me for dressing up nicely while I was going to school although all I wore was a simple purple t-shirt, black jeans, a necklace and some makeup. Nothing sexy or fancy.

Those taunts and mocks broke my heart so much and that was the last straw. I had had enough. I turned around, went to my door, and asked him to leave right away and broke up with him. He didn’t say anything for a few days but started apologizing by messaging and calling me.

He left flowers at my door and messages of love and remorse, but I had seen that before and I knew it was not true. He even brought a dog, a little toy poodle and just left it at my house. I called him and told him to take it away immediately but he just simply said no, “not until you get back together with me.” I took the dog in and thought really hard about how to stop him.

To avoid him I went to live with my friend for a while and he started coming there every day, literally stalking me and leaving chocolates and flowers there. My friend didn’t know much about how our relationship was because I had distanced and closed myself so much from everyone, so she actually tried to sit me down and make me rethink my decision because all she saw was the dog and the gifts.

One day he turned up at her house again and literally begged her to let him in. She asked me and because I wanted this whole drama which had been going on for weeks to just stop, I agreed. We talked for a while and he kept asking me to take him back. However, when I pointed out his violent behavior and his actions, instead of understanding it, he just accused me of being useless and shameless which made him do those things.

Our talk turned into a huge argument again and upon calling him immature he slapped me so hard across my face that I screamed with pain and fell on the sofa in the living room.

My friend finally understood what was really going on with this guy and she forced him out of her house and warned him to leave me alone. Even though that relationship is over and those days are old, the scars I carry still hurt.

It will be almost two years now and I am only just beginning to recover. Although the relationship was void of any joy or real love, its extreme highs and lows were addictive. I spiraled into addiction. I had given him all of me and he kept taking more and more until I was left hollow. So once it ended I was left without any sense of self or identity. That relationship was my sole survival in a cold world which I had experienced in my father’s behavior.

I want people to know that a mean and controlling person will not always be bad on the surface. Such people look and behave more sweetly with others than normal people because they want people to never see who they really are. I want you to look out for your friends and loved ones when they tell you about the issues they are facing from their partners, be it something big like violence or everyday emotional abuse.

From my experience, I can say that emotional scars are much worse than real ones, but their signs are very hard to spot. If your loved one or friend is not behaving like themselves, if they are closing themselves off to meeting you and doing things they loved doing, it could all be a sign of an abusive relationship and your love and support can greatly help them through such times.

Porn is killing my marriage.

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Anonymous.

My step-dad came to lay down next to me one night and turned on porn. I didn’t know it was called porn, and I didn’t yet have boobs of my own. I’d come home and find that my step-father had used my computer for porn. He was an abusive drug-addict and alcoholic, so really, this was the least of his damage. several years later I moved out and fell hard for a beautiful, intelligent, tall, and brown-eyed boy. The kind of love that was tender and pure, it made my angry heart believe in soul-mates. I feel like my husband and I have melded into one, he is the only man I have ever been intimate with. The only man I’ve trusted. We have three children and a happy home. He is good to all of us and we are a good team.

My husband has a porn addiction. He always has. I’ve been in circles with it. I was honest about my past discomforts with it and was clear I couldn’t exist in a life with it. He said he would stop, porn was nothing. It’s over. Then it kept happening, and so I decided I would be the one to change. I would rise above and not let it bother me; I am confident. So for years I (tried to) moved on and didn’t look for it or ask about it. Eventually, I came back to needing to know. I opened his phone and saw some videos he had watched while he thought we were all asleep- the girl filmed from what would be his point-of-view. I saw her face and my heart broke, I was shaking and felt sick. How can the man I know and love contribute to this world? I couldn’t look at him or speak. How deep is this addiction? Does it seep into reality? Then I ruminate about all the times I was told she was “just a friend”. But then, I missed his touch and friendship. Our happy home. So, I chose to forgive and move forward. Again. Why do I always have to dig for the truth until I am hurt? But a part of me still hates him for needing porn and I wish I could run away. He will not get help or stop on his own, it has been a ten year battle with porn. I cant hurt my children because I’m hurting. So, what does that leave me with? for me to get over it and to find a way to coexist with porn. A porn addiction is not enough reason to break a family. But it feels like it’s slowly clouding over my life and I cant breath. I am stuck. I can’t trust. 

When You Feel Like the Most Stressed Out Mom

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Heather Brown and blogs over at My Life Well Loved 

Have you had one of those days recently where it feels like everything is crashing in on you, and felt you were the most stressed out mom? Today I wonder how it was only a week and a half ago that I was on a beach in Mexico without a care in the world.

We haven’t traveled much all summer long but then everything stacked up. Mexico—>Bachelorette Party at the Beach—->New York Fashion Week and of course in between those trips, blog deadlines, motherhood, learning Empower, teaching Pure Barre classes, wife-ing, small groups at church and all the other things you and I…we all do… are still there.

Not to mention, Leyton turned two last week so that brought an onslaught of emotions, as well as party planning that still needs to happen. I am SIMPLIFYING his party this year, but we’ll talk about that another day.

Of course I’m incredibly excited to go to NYFW, but it’s also really hard to leave my little man (& my big man-ha) again. It’s also hard lining up the child care, hearing stories from your mom of him acting sad and saying “ma-ma” while you’re gone, and missing them like crazy.

It’s funny how just when you think you’re in a good groove and found a balance, life throws in some curve balls. Although we can’t always be in balance, Eric and I try to communicate when we are out of balance for a season due to travel, moving, baby stuff, work stuff, etc to let the other know we are aware of being out of balance. That way the other spouse can help us get back to where we need to be.

Where we find ourselves failing is when we don’t acknowledge to the other that we are out of balance. We both need the accountability to help get back to balance. Although life can’t always be pretty with a bow on it, I’ve been intentionally trying to take a few much needed steps to help me stay towards balance that I thought some of you may appreciate too. Because, hello, life as we know it is HECTIC, BUSY, and STRESSFUL and we can easily let it get the best of us.

When we went to Mexico, I decided to bring books with me because well, it seems that vacations are the only time I have to read these days. I packed The Best Yes and Present Over Perfect…noticing a theme here? I also packed a good light read for being on the beach, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m trying to start being more mindful about what I say YES to so that it can be my best yes…and so that I CAN be present over perfect. I haven’t finished either book yet but I’m excited to have gotten started and determined to finish.

Today when I was a stressed out mom at my wit’s end, nerves frayed and almost in tears trying to hit deadlines but also be a good mom the 3 days I’m at home with Leyton before leaving again, I simply stopped. I sat down. I turned on worship music. And I invited Leyton to come sit in my lap.

We swayed to the music. I prayed the only thing I could think to get out: “Lord, help my racing mind to slow down. Help me.” I’ll tell you what, it helped. In that instance, I sat there just singing, swaying and tears brimming at my eyes. Motherhood is such a gift. But it’s so hard.

We are not perfect. Life is not easy, but we are here as a community of “lovies” (a title for the MLWL community you guys suggested) and in the body of Christ to help each other live a life well loved. A life full of promise. A love for each other that only comes from women encouraging women and seeking wisdom in God’s word.

And you know what, if you aren’t a believer, that’s ok because we’re here to love on you as well. I see you weary momma. I see you frazzled wife and stressed out mom. I see you lady who is worried you aren’t beautiful enough or smart enough or whatever “enough” you struggle with.

This post literally flowed from my brain (on overdrive) to my heart as Jesus helped me process through, to hopefully encourage you today wherever you are.

I want to encourage you today to take 5 minutes for you. Maybe light a candle, pray, start a good book, cuddle up with a blanket, stretch, do something to bring your weary heart to a state of rest even if it’s only for 5-10 minutes.

Co-parenting is Emotional, And That’s Okay

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Meagan Haltiwanger Saia and blogs over at Life of Owen. 

I listened to his dad read the book over Facetime with tears streaming down my face. My son was three, and I had only heard his dad read him a handful of stories over the last three years. My heart was aching for the family I had imagined when our son was first born. I remember when he was a few days old, we were still married, and blissfully falling in love with this new life we had created. We were all snuggled on the bed reading I’ll Love You Forever, I’ll Like You For Always, both completely smitten with our adorable baby boy laying between us. Life felt complete. Yet, our family of three didn’t last nearly as long as I expected it to. My divorce happened when my son was 11 months old. The majority of my parenting journey has been done while working to navigate the paperwork, finances and life changes of divorce, and learning how to co-parent with a man I originally planned on growing old with. 

My own parents divorced when I was 12. Unfortunately, I am no stranger to divorce, although I often wish with all my heart that I was. You see, I wanted nothing more than to give my child a home where he didn’t have to go back and forth between houses. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and trusting. I didn’t want him to have to worry about anything other than being a kid. I think the majority of parents want that for their children, the opportunity to give their kids something they didn’t get as a child. I dated my husband for 6 years before we got married. I was convinced I did it right and my future children would have a story different than my own. But in my thirty-two years of life, I have learned by experience that life takes its own turns and navigates down roads we may not have chosen for ourselves. 

So here I am at thirty-two, a single mom learning how to co-parent with my college sweetheart. It is one of the hardest things I have done, and also one of the most rewarding. I cry often from loneliness, from feeling like I failed, from wishing things could have been different. But I also celebrate often too, like when we still have family dinners, even if they look a little different now with my son’s dad and his girlfriend and her daughter.
My little boy has seen me cry and often asks what’s wrong. I believe in letting him see me work through my emotions. Humans were given emotions for a reason, and I do not believe we were meant to hide them. When he asks why I am crying, I tell him I am sad. But I also tell him that it is okay to be sad, and that I won’t always be sad. I tell him this with a smile through my tears, because I know it to be true. We get to choose how we interpret and recover from our emotions. 

I don’t do it perfectly. I sometimes get overly frustrated with his dad as we work through schedules and lose clothing items at the different houses. When a new pizza place opened up in our neighborhood and my son went with his dad and his new family and I was left alone at the house, I ached for a life that could have been. But I also work to show my sweet little boy how to communicate well. He sees his dad and I talk almost every day. He calls him to say goodnight when he’s at my house. We make him Valentine’s Day cards and Christmas presents. I also vent to my friends and therapist about how hard this all is and how much pain I still feel from the divorce. All of this is okay. All of this is normal. 

So much of life is us as humans wanting to know that we aren’t alone, that it wont always be this way and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The thing about co-parenting is that the light we are craving isn’t always at the end of the tunnel we thought we would be traveling through. In the beginning of learning to co-parent with my ex, I wanted it to be pain-free. Now I have learned that the pain may still be there from time to time, but it doesn’t last forever. I have learned that sometimes all I can do is crawl through that tunnel to get to the other side. But once I am there, I am stronger and my son is often better off for it. 

Co-parenting is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it feels as if I have felt more emotions in the last three years of this journey than I have in my three plus decades of life. And while those emotions may be draining at times, they have also made me more resilient, compassionate and forgiving. You can’t experience joy without pain at some point, no matter what the circumstances. It’s just the way life works. Co-parenting is the same way. But my little boy makes every tear, every smile, every sigh worth it all. Because with him, I stopped searching for the light at the end of the tunnel and realized it was right in front of me all along. 

When Your Father Is Homeless

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by anonymous. 


Whenever the news reports bad weather, I think of my father.

When everyone is talking about going snowboarding and the latest storm bringing in the fresh snow, I wonder about my father. I wonder where he goes when its raining and cold.

When ever I meet someone new, I wonder what they would think if they knew that my father was homeless. What would they think of me? What would they say?

I listen to co-workers talk about their dads. “That’s why dads are so great”, they say.

I wonder what they would think of my dad. Not who my dad is now but who he used to be. There was a time when he was strong. That time is long gone.

Last year my father died, and they brought him back to life, but never was he the same. He had been living on the streets and not eating, mostly drinking. He died, and they brought him back to life.

I don’t know who he is now. I talk to him on the phone and I recognize his voice but it’s changed since he lost some of his teeth.

My mother visits him. She drives to Santa Cruz and looks for him on the streets until she finds him. She brings him food and clothing. She is still taking care of him, after everything.

She always did provide for him. For him and for us, she was always being a mom. She takes care of him on the weekends and her 98-year-old mother during the week.

My mother would be homeless if it weren’t for the fact that she lives with my grandmother. Everyone in my life needs someone else to survive.

I’m in my thirties now and i’m working full time. I have half a life because I don’t have a father. A father to talk to. A father to celebrate with. It’s always another sad story in my family.

My father used to tell me that “someday we’ll take a trip to Hawaii, the whole family! You me, your brother, your mother, everyone”. I don’t know why, but even when I was young I knew that was never going to happen.

Now i’m sure of it.