How I got out of a toxic relationship

Originally appeared online in the teen series Trending -  October 5, 2021.

He was British, living  in Paris. I was an American living there, too. We met at the cafe where I was waitressing. He was funny, friendly, and easy to talk to, and he invited me to visit the aquarium where he worked. He seemed a bit of a flirt, so I was apprehensive but also intrigued; I’d never had a boyfriend before.

I’d never been in love before, and I was afraid to lose him.

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Then, less than three months into our relationship, I found out he was cheating on me. When I confronted him, he denied it. I believed him, and we stayed together. But the cycle continued. I’d find evidence of cheating and confront him. He’d deny it, tell me he loved me, and I’d believe him. I’d never been in love before, and I was afraid to lose him. I also naively thought I could help make him into the man I was sure he could be.

But after about three more months of this, I was an emotional wreck. I was also struggling to find a more permanent job and a steady place to live, so I decided to fly home while we worked things out.

After returning to the United States, I moved back in with my parents. I felt terribly lonely, depressed, and unloved. I really missed traveling, but the real cause of my unhappiness was this long-distance relationship that wasn’t going well.

On the surface, things seemed fine. My boyfriend and I talked frequently. He told me he loved me and showered me with compliments about my intelligence, compassion, and kindness. But about two months after I’d moved home, one of our conversations led me to believe that he had moved in with the woman he’d denied cheating on me with. I asked him if this was true. He said yes, but tried to convince me that it was out of necessity and didn’t mean anything. I hung up the phone and burst into tears. My heart felt like it had been ripped to pieces, and I was so confused. How could this be love? 

Later that day, my mom came into my room to ask me a question. I spoke to her sharply—something I didn’t remember having ever done before. We’d always had a very respectful and loving relationship. After she walked out, I felt awful. I realized my attitude needed to change, but I wasn’t sure what to do. I wanted to pray but was steeped in self-pity. It was like a darkness had overwhelmed my thoughts. That night, as I lay in bed, I silently and tearfully pleaded, “Please, God, help me.”

Having attended a Christian Science Sunday School, I had been taught that God is good and “a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1). But I never expected the response that came that night. Immediately after my cry for help, my consciousness was filled with light. It was a light so pure and bright that it filled the room. The most astonishing thing about this light was that it was both intangible and tangible at the same time. It had no physical source, but I could feel it and see it. Its warmth embraced me, and I felt deeply and genuinely loved. This love was so fulfilling that all feelings of sadness, loneliness, and depression disintegrated. I knew that this love was really divine Love, another name for God. In that moment, I felt “the unspeakable peace which comes from an all-absorbing spiritual love,” as Mary Baker Eddy put it in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 264).

I fell asleep and woke the next morning a new person. I was joyful! Not only did I sincerely apologize to my mom, but I also had the confidence to end things with my boyfriend without any regret or drama. In that moment of light, I’d realized that my identity was not based on my relationship with him; I was complete and whole, because that’s the way God made me. I’d also realized that the love I was looking for didn’t include lying or cheating; it was spiritual, pure, and something I already possessed as God’s child. 

When my former boyfriend continued to try to text or call me, I firmly asked him to stop, and he soon did. I also found a new job, moved to a new country, and made that transition with ease. 

Before this healing, I’d always prayed when I’d needed help. But I’d never felt so clearly or tangibly that God was there for me. In what was one of my darkest hours, my simple cry for help was answered. And I have never forgotten what it felt like to be so aware of God’s presence and to feel so deeply His tender love for me. I know now that this relation to divine Love is each individual’s primary relationship, so we can never truly be unloved or alone.

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