We feel incredibly grateful that we get to share Bridget's story with you all.
Bridget spends her days inspiring and coaching many people around NZ on how to reach their potential and smash goals. She is a powerful young woman who also has a journey to share, one where she too had to break free from an emotionally abusive relationship.
Read the rest below.
Can you tell us about your journey towards self-love?:
For me, my self love journey is something that is continuous with no end. I didn't consciously recognise self love and self care until after university, perhaps even years later. I truly only started working out who I am, loving and accepting myself maybe 3 or 4 years ago. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for the majority of my years at university which had a devastating impact on my mental health and self worth. The relationship itself was extremely toxic and this crossed over into other areas of my life. I thought I was fat. I controlled what I was eating. I would go for runs after eating something I thought was bad. I had social anxiety and didn't want to do things with my friends. I'd go out, get drunk and feel depressed the next day. The list goes on. When the relationship ended it certainly wasn't a quick fix. It took years to undo the damage that had been done and for me to get to where I am today.
I found this really hard to write. Mostly because I can’t believe I ever let myself be in this situation. It’s hard to fathom that it is even me that I’m writing about. I don’t remotely recognise this girl I’m about to tell you about. I can’t believe the way she allowed herself to be treated or the way she irrationally reacted to situations. I can’t believe how she let herself be in such a dark space for so long.
When I think back to how it all started, I remember him being different to all the other guys I had dated. He had this cheeky, dark, bad boy vibe that drew me in. He would know exactly what to say to make me feel like the luckiest girl alive, he was the definition of a charmer. Things were good for a few months, and I became extremely infatuated with him thinking that I was falling in love.
I soon started to find out that he had trust issues, very deep trust issues. He brought with him a lot of baggage from his previous relationship and in turn, our relationship became toxic rather quickly. The first red flag was very early on, when we were walking home one night after drinking in town, he began to accuse me of something and he pushed me. He cried and I didn’t think anything of it. The next time I was accused of something he threw an expensive gift I’d bought him into a lake, never to be seen again. He cried again and I forgave him. There was one time where I not only surprised myself, but my friends as well with how unhealthy and unreasonable my state of mind had become. This was when we had been having an argument on the phone, he kept hanging up on me, ignoring me and didn’t want to talk about it. I was full of so much anger, anxiety and felt so powerless that I got in the car and drove 2.5 hours to have the argument in person. Again he cried and I forgave him.
I really wanted the relationship to work. I would come home almost every second weekend from Uni to spend time with him. But he would always put me last. For the majority of the weekends, the only time I would see him would be Sunday morning, when he would knock on my window at 3am after having a night out with the boys. Then he’d be busy again all day Sunday. I asked him once why he never spent time with me when I was home, his response was “It wasn’t me who asked you to be here”.
We ended up becoming as bad as each other when it came to trust. We were that couple that checked each other’s phone’s when the other left the room. The only difference was that he certainly didn’t deserve my trust. I remember countless times where I would find messages from other girls on his phone but they were always ‘ old friends from school’ or ‘just friends’. One of the most heartbreaking times to think about was when he borrowed my phone to text his cousin. Turns out it wasn’t his cousin. He had just put this girl in his phone under his cousins name. The texts were about meeting up when he was away working next. There was just an endless amount of messages. I even called her to confront her about it and he denied everything. So not knowing what to believe, I stayed.
This continued to go on for 2 or so years and I felt so weak, naive, disempowered and dependant on him. No matter what was said to me, and by whom, I didn’t want to give up on him and our relationship. Eventually he decided he wanted to move to Australia and we broke up a few months before this, however, there was still a lot of unhealthy interaction between us before he left. I honestly feel that him leaving was a blessing, it’s challenging to think of what would have happened and how my life would’ve panned out had he stayed.
After he left, I slowly started to prioritise my holistic health, starting with the physical. I started exercising regularly and became conscious of what I was fuelling my body with. I began to rebuild friendships, spend time with people that made me feel good and start doing things that I enjoyed. I guess I began the journey of finding myself again, exploring what I liked to do, who I was, what I wanted my life to be like and getting a taste for how different it can and should be.
A huge part of reconnecting with myself involved spending time with and reconnecting with my family. My first niece Kayla was born around the time things started to wind down and she was an absolute blessing for me. I’m not sure if my sister realises the importance that both her and Kayla had at this time of my life. I spent a lot of time out at my sisters, helping her with Kayla, and just watching, experiencing and taking it all in. I could not only see the love between Mother and Daughter but I could feel it. I could feel the pure love I had for this wee human, nothing like I had felt before. I was there for almost every one of Kayla’s milestones. Kayla was an incredibly significant part of my healing process and I think that’s why her and I share such a special bond and no doubt we always will.
I realised how much I love helping others recognise their self worth and experience their absolute potential. In 2015 I opened my own business and I am lucky enough to coach women around the country through my business Goal Diggers NZ. There is nothing more rewarding than witnessing these women start to include acts of self love in their lives. Watching as they begin to accept themselves and recognise their own strengths on their journey full of personal growth as they work towards smashing their goals.
I feel like a completely different person reflecting back on who I was during that time of my life. Self care and self love is now intertwined as non-negotiables into my everyday routines. I accept myself as I am and where I’m at, knowing that I’m on my own journey of growth and fulfilment. I respect myself and have firm boundaries when it comes to both romantic relationships and friendships. I have experienced healthy relationships over the last few years and am currently seeing someone who makes me laugh so hard everyday, supports and respects me while making me feel safe, appreciated and worthy.
What does self-love mean to you?:
Self-love means having boundaries with yourself and with the people in your life. It's about knowing what is right for you and having integrity to do so. It's about putting yourself first, even when other people are trying to tell you something different. For me self love is caring for myself and treating myself with the utmost respect. It's the small daily and weekly rituals where I prioritise my holistic wellbeing. It's sweating daily. It's fuelling my body with nutritious food that gives me energy. It's my monthly massage and facial. It's being content with not getting everything ticked off my to do list at the end of the day. It's having positive thoughts and speaking only positive words about myself. It's celebrating both the small and big wins and embracing the feeling of pride when it comes to my accomplishments. It's writing in my gratitude journal every night including three things I love about myself. It's getting a good night's sleep. It's being content with where I'm at, in this moment.
Why is self-love so important to you?:
Self love is incredibly important to me. I believe that if you can't prioritise your own needs and look after your own holistic health, you can't possibly bring the best version of yourself to any of your relationships with friends, family or with your partner. Therefore I prioritise self-love and self-care routines that support my holistic well-being. I certainly notice the difference when those routines start to slip. Not only is self-love important for you, but it really does flow into all other areas of your life. Once you start accepting yourself and treating yourself with respect, that's when the people in your life really start to step up to. And if they're not hitting the mark then it might be time to reevaluate the people you’re spending your energy on.
Tell us what makes you proud of the woman you are today?:
After writing about my self love journey and reflecting back on how far I've come, I am so proud of who I am today. I'm proud of the expectations I have for all of my relationships. I'm proud of how I honestly communicate with friends and family when I'm unhappy with something. I tell them how I'm feeling and we work through things together. I'm proud of the resilience I've built and the boundaries I've established. I'm proud of my no bullshit approach to life. I'm proud of how I've learnt to trust my intuition. I'm proud of the faith and trust I have in knowing that everything that's meant to be will be. I'm proud of every single one of my achievements. I'm proud that I've persevered and haven't given up.
What values are important to you when it comes to love?:
When I think of love, I think of it in all relationships with friends, family and romantic partnerships. There are an endless amount of values that I think are significant when it comes to both giving and receiving love. Here are my top eight:
Honesty, trust, positive communication, respect, integrity, laughter, understanding and support.
What does a healthy relationship look like to you?:
A healthy relationship starts with a foundation of respect, trust, positive communication and friendship. It is two whole people coming together as halves to create a new whole. It is without criticism or judgement. It is full of constant support, that of a two way street. It is accepting and understanding each other's perspectives without anyone being right or wrong. It is sharing each other with friends and family. It is deeply connecting on all levels. It is full of positive challenges and being pushed outside your comfort zone. It is balance. It is safe. It is certain.
If you could share one piece of advice with our readers, what would it be?:
For a long time, whenever I've talked about the above relationship, I've followed it with 'But everyone needs to have a shit relationship to know what a good one is', implying that it was all was okay. That I was okay and it was all worth it because now I know what I want in a relationship. But it's not okay and you don't have to be treated like that to know what a healthy relationship is.That will be the last time I speak those words. No one deserves to be made to feel worthless, disrespected and disempowered. Not you, not me, not your friends. No one deserves it. So my advice would be get 100% clear on the qualities of the partner you want to be with, get clear on what love looks like to you, get clear on what a perfect relationship looks like to you. Most importantly get clear on what self-love looks like to you and make sure you're including those regular routines and rituals in your life. No matter what anyone says, don't you bloody settle for anything less than you deserve.
Thank you so much, Bridget, for sharing your story! You are such a powerful woman!
There is an enormous amount of courage that goes into sharing stories of our past and how we became the fabulous women we are today. At Prepair NZ we think that this courageousness is the most powerful way to start shining a light on such an unspoken topic.
We've said before we want our stories to spread like wildfire across NZ, sparking conversations and helping to burn out domestic violence in our country. If you've been inspired to share your story - we'd love to hear from you! Click the link below!