I moved on. I got back on the saddle. I had a bad ass photo shoot with Steven Visneau, picked up more clients, moved away from my roommate, did some Jiu Jitsu tournaments, lost 10 pounds and gained a lot more friends and experiences. I also eventually started dating again. I have done a lot.

This year has been eventful. Truly amazing even. I feel like I’m gearing up for some huge huge things.

But besides the last 10 pounds, negative energy has been lingering with me all year it seems. I have felt run down, more anxious than I’ve ever been, unmotivated and still go through bouts of being sick. How crazy is it that all these great things were happening and I felt as though I was a bystander in my own life? A lot of things are being done but barely. I thought seriously that maybe I was depressed. Is functional depression a thing? (And hell- maybe that is it.) But I knew one thing for sure: I was still drained from the emotional turmoil that I had been put through.

I can honestly say I was happy enough. I’m motivated enough. I’m doing well enough. But the enough version of Michelle is not what I am used to. I wasn’t faking it- but I was off. I’m used to “so damn happy I explode with joy” and the “get sh*t done- no excuses” Michelle. I covered up the enough version of Michelle and filled my time with work, clients, new ventures, half ass Jiu Jitsu training and very little training outside of that. I filled it with “all these things I want to do.” But the truth was that I had been half there in all aspects of my life.

I felt completely ashamed of that too. Embarrassed that it still bothered me. That I was still feeling the effects of it. Not that I missed my exes AT ALL (because if there was ever a bullet to dodge, it was that one.) But it took a toll on me.

Two very specific conversations with two of my best friends, Alyssa and Arlene helped me put things in perspective (even though they probably don’t realize it.)

I realized I never got closure (and why would I? They were narcissists.) But also, the shame of what happened has kept me down. I’ve tried so hard to hide it; to be strong; to stay positive. But the truth is: two years in a row I fell for guys who completely used me. They intentionally hurt me. Broke up with me right before my birthday (both of them!) and then strung me along. I know that screams “naive loser” to some but the reality that I was made to see was that I just cared. A lot. Too much. For bad guys. And instead of running away when my gut told me to, I let myself care for them. I let them make me feel small. I let them make me forget that I’m f***ing Michelle Trent. Strong. Smart. Sexy. Funny. Michelle Trent. (Also- good a Jiu Jitsu n stuff.) I’m everything that they are NOT and because of that, they hurt me.

And it has taken what seems like an eternity (in reality a few months,) tons of introspection, and one little piece of validation to get back to old Michelle. REALLY back to my old self. Not happy enough. Not confident enough. Not just enough to get by Michelle.

Me.

And oh- the future is so so bright. It’s like the fog has lifted and I’m free.

P.S.

Why did I tell you ALL of this?? Don’t let people dictate how you feel about yourself. If someone makes you feel bad about anything, it’s because THEY are the problem. If someone talks down to you, criticizes you, or berates you it is because they want to pull you down to their level. One truth I have realized over the last few years is that self growth and self care can make or break relationships. As one partner starts to grow, the other partner either jumps on board to grow too or they will try their hardest to keep you down. They will do or say anything to make this happen. Complacency (or narcissism) kills the relationship.

Don’t EVER put up with someone who tries to break you down. Run far far away! As I have experienced, it can have long lasting effects- some that you may not even fully grasp. ALWAYS go with your gut feeling. It may seem to suck at first but it will ultimately prove to be the best decision.

If you know me you know that I’m pretty open about my life stories. Not because I’m not embarrassed of all the ridiculous things that have happened (because 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️) or because I want attention. But I find that when I do actually share I get a lot of “Me too’s” and #relatable’s from so many people. This story is a little more personal and maybe a little longer, but I feel like it will help more people than it will hurt me to tell.

My last two exes were kind of doozies (before the super rad guy I’m with now!)

I dated the first one for a short period of time in 2016 before I became privy to his narcissistic bull sh*t. And although he lied and hurt me, I moved on and it taught me a lesson- one I clearly soon forgot.

The second one I dated last year and at the beginning of this year and I had dated him in the past. The first time around I left him in search of something more. My heart and soul told me to get out. I couldn’t quite grasp why until he resurfaced last year. For a long time I even thought I had made a mistake- that he was “the one that got away.” Ha! After his marriage fell apart, he reached out to me in short order. Even though he was total mess, I was excited to reconnect. 🤦‍♀️

It didn’t dawn on me that this man was just incapable of being alone. It didn’t dawn on me that he was a user and that he was using me to escape a bad situation. In my mind, I had my “one that got away” back. In his mind, I was just a pawn. A thing to use for his gain and then dispose of. Why, yes! He too was a narcissistic psychopath. The difference? He was much better at faking it than the first guy. MUCH better. Everyone loved him. (But then again, everyone loved Ted Bundy too.) But this past year I got to see the real him. I got to realize why I left the first time around. The gut feelings became concrete evidence that I made the absolute right choice of not marrying him. It took me going down that rabbit hole and getting the life knocked out of me (figuratively) to realize it, but hey- lesson REALLY learned this time.

Same spiel as Narcissist #1. He knew exactly what to say to win me over and pull me in. He was romantic at first (soulmates back together and all that nonsense)’and feigned interest in me- just to have glazed over eyes anytime I spoke. Then it really began. His superiority complex kicked in. His need to be the center of attention and “the best” at everything- Mr. Know-It-All, if you will, really kicked in. He didn’t really care about my accomplishments or desires. We spent every waking moment talking about him. His divorce. His crazy ex. His dreams. He feigned interest enough to let me speak but he always had a way of changing the subject. He did what he wanted when he wanted (even yelled that at me one time.) When I got really sick last year with my digestive issues, he barely lifted a finger to take care of me- never mind the stress of his baggage was what pushed it overboard. When I was in the hospital, he spent the entire time texting with one of his ex girlfriends. And when I got upset- he got so mad he almost wrecked my Jeep. Never mind that I spent a night in the hospital. That I was so sick I slept on my bathroom floor. It only mattered that I hurt his feelings. When I found out my mom was sick and had COPD- he told me I was using that as a way to get attention. He didn’t care. All so the attention could shift back to his chaos.

So-When it started going south, all of the old feelings I had came rushing back. Screaming at me to let go but I couldn’t. Why? Because I blamed myself. Every single time we fought he would say “well you left Michelle.” I blamed myself because he blamed me. He shamed me. He knew how to make me feel so small. So bad about myself. And when it all fell apart I was the problem. Yet, I tried to hold on. He broke up with me right before my birthday and went back to MS. Yet he kept me roped in (which is exactly what happened with Narcissist #1.) He made me feel sorry for him. “His life was a mess and he just needed to figure it out.” So I waited. Even though it hurt me so bad. Even though my gut told me to move on- I couldn’t. Because it’s like an instinct- the second I tried, he would know and would rope me back in. But at a certain point I had finally had enough of being ghosted. Ignored. Talked down to. I finally decided to try and move on. After ALL that he put me through, I tried to maintain that he was just really hurting from his previous relationship and that he was still a good guy. BUT- Not even a month after we had spoken for the last time and he gave me his spiel about “working his life out” he had moved in with and adopted a dog with another female. (One that strokes his ego exactly how he likes.)

Wow. That was a huge blow to my heart and soul. He used me and used me and then just dropped me like a sack of potatoes.

By the time he was completely out the door, I was completely used up. COMPLETELY Drained. I had let him live with me, I was his go to for everything while he was never my go to for anything. I couldn’t even talk about my life or my problems with him. He told me multiple times he didn’t care. I had been used. By someone who I thought I knew deep down was a good guy.

What did I feel? Anger. But also really ashamed. Here I was- still sick. 20-25 pounds heavier because my digestive issues were still whack, Career and Jiu Jitsu on the back burner while I got it sorted out- while I tried to feel human again. And there he was- shacked up with another girl. (That’s 3 girls in less than a year if you lost count.) I was so embarrassed that I let this man do this to me in one fell swoop.

So what did I do next?

Check out part 2 dropping tomorrow!