The way in which the body stores trauma never ceases to amaze me. You may not be consciously aware of what is happening, but your body gives you subtle hints and clues to let you know that it’s storing some difficult feelings. This has been so true for me lately. The end of August leading into September has brought on lots of body aches, stiffness, and tightness in my back and hips. My sleep has been interrupted with nightmares and I have little desire for food (which is a huge red flag for a foodie like myself). I’ve been so busy lately that I have barely taken a moment to realize what month we are in….

……until this week. September. Sweet September. The month I fell in love with a man who promised me the world as long as I agreed to trade my soul.

He told me he’d love me since no one else would ever want me; and I called that love.

He told me he’d pick me up for our date. I waited by the window for hours only for him to tell me he found something better to do; and I called it love.

He told me he didn’t want anyone to know we were together. It would be our secret; and I called it love.

He told me my friends and family hated me and that I should leave everyone behind and start a new life all on my own with him; and I called it love.

He drove me to class because he said he didn’t trust that other people wouldn’t try to steal me away from him; and I called it love.

I was forbidden to speak when we were out with his friends. He said this was so he could protect me from getting mixed up with the wrong crowd; and I called it love.

He took my car keys, my cell phone, my shoes, and he hid them for fear I’d leave; and I called it love.

He slept on top of me so I couldn’t run away in the middle of the night without him knowing; and I called it love.

He locked me in a room when he wanted a break from how much I stressed him out; and I called it love.

He told me he had my best interest at heart and that I just needed to trust him; and I called it love.

It breaks my heart to see how lost I was. None of that was love. If someone is telling you that they love you, but the relationship leaves you feeling horrible about yourself, that is not love. Please do not confuse empty promises, degradation, and codependency for romance. If you do not feel emotionally and/or physically safe, you are not safe and it is not love.

Years later, as I look at the sweet man sitting on the couch next to me, I thank God that I was able to get away from this abuser and go on to marry the safest, kindest man I’ve ever known. And while the memories of my abusive relationship always resurface around this time of year in the form of aches, pains, and nightmares, I find so much comfort in knowing I am safe now.

My husband lets me fly free, pushing me to pursue my dreams and cheering me on in every way he can.

My husband greets me at my car door with an umbrella to protect me from the rain when I arrive home from work on a stormy night.

My husband sits with me in therapy to help learn ways he can support me through my recovery from PTSD.

My husband is so proud to walk through this life with me.

Now I call THAT love.