I've been there.
The constant arguments. The name-calling, the yelling, the screaming.
Then there's the jealousy, insecurity, and mind games.
There may or may not be physical abuse but there's definitely emotional and mental abuse.
I know what it's like to be in that kind of shi**y relationship.
And I know why you stay.
You stay for all kinds of reasons, depending on who you are.
You might stay because you genuinely believe you love this person who regularly makes you feel like crap. You might even think you deserve this kind of treatment. I think we all know that you don't. No one does.
You know what's right and what's wrong. You know what kind of behavior is acceptable and what kind is not acceptable. But still, you stay.
You might have children with this person and you want to keep the family intact. You might be financially dependent on this person and are terrified to leave. Where will you go? How will you survive?
You may also be ashamed to leave this person because you've kept their behavior a secret all this time. Perhaps your friends, family, or co-workers have no clue what you've been going through. You may have covered it well and hidden the truth masterfully. I've been there too.
You might think in your head that once you leave this relationship you'll be asked what went wrong. The list may be so long and so secret that you don't even know where to begin. The abuse may have been swept under that rug so deeply that to lift it would be an avalanche of reckoning.
Sometimes this person you're with is the definition of charm. They may be utterly attractive and their remorse confusingly sincere. You want everything to be wonderful.
You want nothing more than for your partner to treat you like a human being of worth.
But they're not.
You might think you can't do any better. Perhaps your partner even told you this. You may wonder if it's true.
You are worthy of love. You are worthy of empathy. You are worthy of comfort and respect from your partner.
No amount of wondering or "what ifs" will spare you from this situation. It doesn't matter if you were prettier, smarter, or more interesting in some way. It doesn't matter if you lose weight or if you keep the house cleaner. None of that will change this shi**y relationship if it is indeed what I have described.
What you're forgetting is that you are a beautiful spirit and you made a mistake. You chose to love someone who failed to respect your boundaries or show you compassion. Many of us have been there - some of us many times over.
It is possible to break the cycle. You can get there if you just let go of the familiar pull of negativity and pain.
Sometimes we get used to being treated badly until we forget what it's like to be treated well. It happens. Never be ashamed of your own learning process. It's a journey. And the beginning of your journey needs to start with taking care of you.
Don't be embarrassed to tell someone you need help. Don't be afraid to say what you've been hiding. People will understand more than you think because many have been through this. They can help you.
You may only be able to see as far as your troubles right now, but trust me when I say, it can get better if you let it and you have always been worth it.
More from Michelle: What My Husband Taught Me About Domestic Violence
Read Michelle's blogs about love, sex, marriage, divorce, parenting, step-parenting, body-image & more at The Pondering Nook. Also, check out The Broad's Way Podcast where Michelle co-hosts honest, entertaining discussions about similar topics.