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From First Heartbreaks To Escaping An Abusive Ex, Latinas Share How They Overcame Breakups

Breakups, even when they’re for the best, are some of the most debilitating moments of our lives. The pain is all-consuming. It pounds in your chest, streams down your face through tears, and aches in every joint and bone of your body. It growls in a stomach you don’t have an appetite to feed. It drains you of energy and focus. It feels like death, and in many ways, that’s exactly what it is. It’s the demise of a relationship, a future, of parts of yourself. But in life, there is both death and birth, and after mourning the agonizing loss of love, a new existence, one that’s novel, one you have the power to create and change as you want, is born.

That doesn’t make it easy and it doesn’t mean joy is a night of sleep away, but it does, even if slowly and painfully, offer hope. It’s healing, growing and understanding. It’s smiling and laughing again, even if for a few seconds a day. It’s envisioning a future, one that could possibly even be bright, for the first time in weeks, months, years. During heartbreak, when life really feels over, a storm that could never have a rainbow, a disaster that’s destroyed all existence, seeing how others began to sprout in what felt like their own barren land, could inspire a not-so-distant future where you, too, rebloom.  

For those feeling lost, empty and miserable in their breakups, here are the stories of Latinas who allowed their shattered hearts and souls to be catalysts for a new life, women who used their tormenting farewells to welcome artistic projects, international travel, new careers and change-making for themselves and the world around them.

Connie, 27, New York

My ex and I broke up permanently in August 2018, but there were several breakups before then. We stopped living together in December 2017, a year after we decided to move in together, which should have been a sign the relationship wasn’t going anywhere. But toxic love is addicting, and we were each other’s preferred poison. My ex is my twin flame: love at first sight, birthdays only a day apart, our cultures and spiritualities connecting us. We were convinced our love was a product of destiny, but twin flames are not destined to be together. They are simply flowers that bloom for a moment, not a lifetime. Still, breaking up, while the best thing to do, was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I look back at my journal entries from that time, and I do not recognize the person who filled each page: tears dried into paper, words like “forever” and “soulmate” smeared, broken pages, entries never finished, pieces of weed left on the crevices. I self-medicated a lot, oftentimes drinking and smoking myself into incoherence. Those entries were a representation of my spirit. I felt broken, depressed and furious — sometimes even experiencing physical pain from the separation.

But through it all, I did learn something: Pain shouldn’t always be associated with negativity, even if it’s uncomfortable. We are energetic beings searching for other energetic frequencies to propel us forward. Pain is one of those propellers. In nature, we find the most incredible feats of life occur when there is discomfort: a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, a flower blooming, a parent giving birth. Pain is the battle cry you scream that gives you the strength to tackle your personal journey. Allow your body to do the work it was always destined to do.

I used my pain I felt so deeply in my soul and transformed it into energy to help me walk the path that my ancestors laid out before me, but was for too long too scared to take. Through those ashes, I created Alegría Peruanx, a multimedia project dedicated to archiving, educating, unifying and healing the Peruvian community within the US. I’ve been a director and photographer for many years, so I got to combine my talents with my passion to create a photo series, traveling gallery and digital space to create community. This project was my phoenix rising, a project I was always destined to create but had to be spiritually ready for. Pain taught me that I am far more powerful and boundless than the physical vessel I am occupying. It’s an eye-opening experience that propelled me forward, not just in my career but in my spirit. Though I am still in the process of healing, I honor where this pain has taken me and allow it to work through me for a greater cause.

Isabella, 23, Oregon

My ex and I were together for 11 months before we separated in September. While it wasn’t a long-term romance, I was still absolutely shot emotionally and physically. I crumbled. I became restless and so utterly depressed that my hair began to fall out in small clumps. I couldn’t eat. I tried to, but my body rejected any nourishment. My spirit felt so crushed and beaten down that I thought I was dying of a broken heart. At the time, the only thing that sounded appealing was sleeping. When I didn’t sleep, I wrote poetry. That’s when I began to realize the magnitude of the pain, sadness and loss I was feeling.

My relationship with my ex centered on manipulation. Before moving to Oregon to be with him, I was an exotic dancer, and I loved it. I was hoping to expand my stripping career when he told me it was degrading. He made me feel shameful for dancing. He said, if I wanted to make real money, I should escort. My boyfriend was a pimp, and I didn’t know until he manipulated me into his world. I felt so trapped. I tried countless times to leave him, but he never let me get away. I was never out of his sight unless I was working. I felt like I was suffocating. One night, we got into a massive fight and he hit me. He felt so awful afterwards that he left our house. That’s when I packed up everything and left our home.

If I hadn’t written my poetry, I would have continued to downplay my heartbreak. Validating my feelings was the first step to moving on. I decided to return to exotic dancing. I worked mornings and afternoons at the strip club to force myself out of bed every day. Otherwise, I would have never left my tiny bedroom or even ate. Dancing forced me to take care of myself. Getting dolled up and entertaining every day reminded me that I am beautiful and that I am desirable. Dancing helped me channel the negative emotions into positive and happy emotions. It led me to discover a new level of my sexuality I never knew existed. I feel, like phoenix, I turned to ash and rebirthed an improved me.

Sandy, California

After two years together, my ex and I broke up in November 2018. Right after the separation, I began to feel uneasy about my decision. We had known each other since we were kids. Our mothers were best friends from childhood. They even became pregnant at the same time. As a result, we were born exactly one month apart. With all this history I shared with him, breaking up meant breaking up with our past. I felt I was betraying romance and blocking myself from having a “happy ending.” If anyone heard our story, it was no doubt we were meant to be together. Breaking up started to feel like it was the wrong choice because I was holding onto a fairytale, but it was what I needed to get the finale I deserved.

It has taken me a while to realize my self-worth and self-respect. Even though I loved my ex-boyfriend, and still do, my decision came when I stopped romanticizing our story and looked at our reality. The truth: I didn’t feel respected, not when he lied to me about where he was at, not when he deleted text messages and not when he entertained other women. With each chance I gave him, a little part of me was dying. Letting go was an opportunity to refocus all that love toward myself — finally.

Today, I’m taking the time to focus on the things that bring me joy. I’m a caring individual who wants to make a difference in the world. I’m a community organizer, I run my own film series project, I applied and got accepted into grad school and, most recently, I decided to run for office. In March, I submitted my application to run for neighborhood council in the city of Van Nuys. I am running for the nonprofit community-based organization seat. I’m running in a city I grew up in. I’m running to bring new ideas to the table. I’m running for my community.

It has been six months since I went through a messy breakup. During that time, I thought I was never going to be myself again. Maybe I’m not. I’m finding myself. I’m trusting my intellect and my potential. I’m making things happen. Tough days don’t need to last forever and they won’t last forever.  

Jazmin Vega, 23, Colorado

My ex and I were together for three years before splitting last October. This was someone I had planned to move across the country to be with, someone I chose to put my plans on hold for. Imagine my pain then when it ended. The first few nights I slept in my bathroom next to the toilet. I was waking up panicked and my stomach would just heave itself up. I was completely submerged in grief. I went weeks without feeling like I was actually alive. I had this intense and scorching pain in my chest all the time. When I found out my ex had started dating someone else, only days after our breakup, I was in so much shock and agony. I felt defeated. I ended up in the hospital.

Days later, I went to see my curandera, who called it sadness of my soul. She promised that I would recover, that I would build myself up again with my own hands. I am. I began making a plan of all the things I needed to do to get through this. Traveling sounded life it could give me some relief. I decided to backpack for a month through parts of Europe. My mom, who was going through a similar separation, came with me. We road-tripped through Ireland for a week together, spent time seeing the ocean, stood at hostels and drank in pubs. While it was healing to be able to leave, I think it was also a struggle. Whether a relationship, marriage or home, conditions have taught us that we can’t leave, that we always have to stay. So when we finally did escape, so far that we weren’t even on the same continent anymore, we also felt guilt.

My moment of good and productive healing came when I was on a boat tour in Barcelona, crying alone. I kept picturing myself under all that water. I wondered how good it would feel if I could just swim to the surface. In that moment, I decided that I was ready to think and feel something else. I was reminded that I cared about so many other things, like how sacred my time with my mom is. I thought of the deep gratitude and love I have for her. I don’t want to romanticize her pain or her experiences, but I began to recognize how long she had to stay in her marriage and how I was able to leave, how she didn’t want me to similarly waste decades feeling stuck. I thought a lot about how there are people who exist in my life that do love and care about me in the ways that I need them to. I decided I wasn’t going to lose anymore time to my grief. The trip helped me heal from my heartbreak because I came back home ready to return to myself and my own body again.

Read: Latino Breakup Songs To Dedicate To Your Ex And Make You Feel Better

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Are You A Victim Of Abuse? Use This Checklist To Help You Determine The Truth

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Are You A Victim Of Abuse? Use This Checklist To Help You Determine The Truth

ET / Twitter

If you feel that you are experiencing an abusive relationship, please seek help. Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233 for assistance. Please take care if you feel that your internet or mobile phone device use is being monitored.

There are three ways that abuse can be identified. By the way your partner treats you physically, by the way they treat you emotionally, and by how you feel about the relationship. This checklist of twenty signs of abuse is one tool that you can use to see if you, or someone you know, is a victim of abuse. And remember, more resources for dealing with abuse can be found by calling The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233.

1. They have grabbed you and refused to let go.

gabkaphoto / Instagram

This falls into the category of physical abuse. No-one should grab you to make you feel threatened and unsafe. No-one.

2. They have pulled your hair.

Instagram: @theerinblythedavis

This is another form of physical abuse. Sure, a bit of hair pulling in the act of passion is fine. But when it happens as part of an argument, or when your partner is deliberately trying to hurt you or make you feel threatened, that is abuse.

3. They have thrown things at you and/or destroyed your belongings.

Instagram: @beatfreak1996

One way your significant other may try to control you is through your belongings. Throwing things at you and destroying your belongings is designed to hurt you physically and emotionally. Threatening to do so also falls under this category of behavior, too.

4. They have left you with bruises, black eyes, bleeding, and/or broken bones.

Instagram: @veeegooose

While abuse doesn’t necessarily have to leave marks on your body, a sure sign of physical abuse in your relationship is when your partner does leave marks. Research shows that once it happens the first time, a “threshold” of sorts has been crossed, and an abuser is more likely to hurt their partner again.

5. They have threatened to hurt or kill you.

Instagram: @raquelitt

It may not seem like abuse, since there are no physical marks left from a threat to hurt or kill you. However, these threats are still part of the arsenal of tools that abusers use. How? Because these threats are designed to control your behavior, and make you feel powerless. Abuse in a relationship is about the abuser gaining and maintaining power, and death threats are a way of emotionally controlling you.

6. They have threatened to take your children away or harm them.

Instagram: @stephaniemaurasanchez

Even if you have children together, children shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip in your relationship. Even more importantly, your children’s safety is non-negotiable: no partner of yours should threaten it. By the way, this doesn’t just apply to children. Pets can also be used to manipulate and control you in a relationship.

7. They have forced you to have sex.

Instagram: @jennylikesjewellery

Sex is not a “duty” to be fulfilled in a loving, equal relationship. Nor should your partner guilt trip or manipulate you into participating in sex acts after you have refused sex. Consent needs to be freely given! It doesn’t matter how long the two of you have been together. Otherwise, it’s classed as sexual assault.

8. They try to control you and treat you like a child.

Instagram: @silvia_almanza

Abusive relationships are about control and power. Part of treating you like a child is making you feel like you don’t have any control in the relationship, or even your life, so that you continue to stay and endure the abuse.

9. They make you feel like you need permission to make decisions or go somewhere.

Instagram: @kreeturefeature

This applies when you feel like you have to text at every moment to update your partner about where you are. And when you can’t spend time with friends or family without getting permission from your partner. This is because abusers commonly try to isolate their partner from other, platonic relationships with other people.

10. They try to take complete control of the finances and how you spend money.

Instagram: @loudmouthbruja

Controlling how money is earned and spent is known as financial abuse. People suffering from this type of abuse are commonly denied access to money by partners for doing simple tasks like grocery shopping. Or, sometimes the abuser decides whether and when their partner is allowed to work.

11. They cannot admit to being wrong.

Instagram: @abs_ter

Part of being in a respectful and loving relationship is being able to say sorry and to admit fault. An abusive partner refuses to apologise, because doing so would threaten their position of power in their relationship.

12. They accuse you of things that you know are not true.

Instagram: @estephaniaabarca

This is about control, and manipulating you. After all, if you’re spending your time trying to prove your innocence, then you’re not going to spend your time planning to leave the relationship, are you?

13. They do not take responsibility for their behavior.

Instagram: @lu.pazmi

The reality is, it’s not too much to ask someone to take responsibility for their behavior – even more so when it’s someone you’re in a relationship with. However, your partner doesn’t take responsibility for their behavior because doing so would threaten their position of power in the relationship.

14. They use “The Silent Treatment” to get their way.

Instagram: @yappaririri

Chances are you may have experienced “The Silent Treatment” before, in elementary school. And that’s where that behavior should stay. An equal, loving relationship is not built on one person using silence to manipulate the other person into conceding a point.

15. They make subtle threats or negative remarks about you.

Instagram: @noshophotography

Of course, there’s always room for some friendly sledging in a loving, respectful relationship. But, it turns into abuse when your partner does this on a regular basis to frighten, or control you. It’s possible they may even pass it off as a “joke”, or say that you’re “overreacting”. But again, if you’re in a loving relationship, then your partner should respect the fact that you’re hurt by a “joke”. They should not continue to make these types of comments.

16. You feel scared about how your significant other will act.

Instagram: @erikakardol

Repeat after us: you should have no reason to fear your partner in a loving, respectful relationship. You should have no reason to fear your partner in a loving, respectful relationship.

17. You feel that you can help your partner to change their behavior.

Instagram: @amnesia.r

But, only if you have changed something about yourself first.

18. You watch your behavior carefully so that you do not start a conflict in your relationship.

Instagram: @cmirandads

An abuser does not abuse all of the time. They maintain a cycle of abuse in the relationship. Things go from being tense, where you feel like you have to watch your own actions, to an incident which involves verbal, emotional, financial and physical abuse. Then, your partner attempts reconciliation or denies the abuse occurred, and the relationship goes into a calm stage. However, tensions will begin to build before long, starting the cycle once again.

19. You stay with your partner because you are afraid of what they would do if you broke up.

Instagram: @msstefniv

In other words, you feel trapped in your relationship because of your partner’s current, or potential, behavior. This can range from hurting you, your kids, your pets, your friends, and your family. Or, destroying your belongings, compromising access to your finances, or hurting themselves.

20. They don’t pass “The No Test”

Instagram: @kaitlyn_laurido

“The No Test” is pretty simple. Observe what happens the next time you tell your partner “no”. This could be in response to being asked out on a date, or maybe doing them a simple favor. Disappointment is a normal response to being told “no.”  However, pure outrage, violence, and/or emotional manipulation is not a reasonable response, and may indicate an abusive relationship.

If you feel that you are experiencing an abusive relationship, please seek help. Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233 for assistance. Please take care if you feel that your internet or mobile phone device use is being monitored.

Women Share What It’s Really Like Growing Up With A Single Mom

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Women Share What It’s Really Like Growing Up With A Single Mom

Netflix

If you’ve had the unique, and very very special, experience of being raised by a single mother, you know that it comes with all kinds of lessons. Amidst the struggles of single parenthood, you learn at a young age what true strength and perseverance mean. And above all, you learn from la jefa de jefas what it means to not only run a household but be a leader.

Recently we asked Latinas on Instagram to share what they valued most from their years being under a single-parent roof run by their mother. The responses proved to be touching, reflective and all at once unique.

The woman who helped raise eachother.

“My mom was a single mom, but my grandma raised me and my Nina influenced me. My grandma was a single mom too, so it came naturally for her to raise me herself. She’s the strongest woman I know💕 she always made sure I had food to eat and clothes on my back, she took me everywhere she could. Our weekends were filled with “browsing” and we’d be out from sunup to sundown no más en la calle 😁 she would start conversations with everyone anywhere. She was able to be a grandma to my baby and the only person I could fully rely on 100% to help me raise my own. There will never be words to say how much that meant to me. She’s turning 94 this year and still my heroe.” – moneekers

The mom who never let her children be home alone.

jasminasb / Instagram

“One thing I learned to appreciate as I became an adult is that my mom never let my sister and I be home alone; she made us play every sport offered at school so that she could be out of work and waiting in the parking lot when we got out of practice.” –just_phdcounselored

The woman raised by Wonder Woman herself.

sofiasaraiyt / Instagram

“My mother is Wonder Woman in the flesh and it is an honor to be her child my mother is the most amazing pain in my ass but absolutely best person in my life. I love her so much and value her for all her sacrifices and that she still stands by my side and my sisters through thick and thin. Proud to say I am my mother’s daughter. Single moms are warriors.” – ladycinnamon_90

The mama who had something to say.

pdromi_fotografia / Instagram

“I was a single mom to my oldest who is now 28. For the most part of her life. I have been single to my youngest now 14 for the last 11 years. I’ve had decent relationships with their fathers. I never stopped to think about how, as a single mother I helped to shape their world. I see myself in the comments on here as a single mama. Single moms just it it done!” –mimarria

The mom who found a way to give everything when she didn’t have a lot herself.

“My mom raised me and my 2 siblings since we were under the age of 5. She always made sure we had everything, even when we didn’t have a lot. Her hard work and dedication have made me the resilient woman I am today.” – gaby_armenta23