For several years of my life, I let a toxic relationship rule. I let him manipulate me, and use me. I let him take advantage of my kindness and my body. I let him make me feel like I owed him something. I let him make me feel like I would never find someone who loved me as much as he did.

And finally, I pulled myself away. Finally, I let go of one of the most life-draining individuals I’d let come into my life; but not without some consequences.

I stopped believing in and valuing myself. I stopped trying to keep up my appearance. I started letting people’s comments creep into my mind and define my self-worth. I was wrapped up in all the things that I had done wrong. I never thought I’d get over wasting so much time on someone so vile, and for letting that same someone define me. I never thought I’d forgive myself.

And then you came along.

You open my heart again. You made me smile. You made me laugh. You made me remember everything I loved about myself, and even show me a few more things to love. You made me feel something good again. You were the person who helped make me myself again, and there will never be enough words to describe how much your love has changed me. I will never be able to tell you how much you mean to me.

But I will say this:

To the man who made me a better person, thank you.

Thank you for never giving up, even when I think you’re going to.

Thank you for staying when I don’t know how to ask you to stay.

Thank you for never fighting back when all I was trying to do was get a rise out of you.

Thank you for stopping the self-hate comments before they even leave my mouth.

Thank you for reminding me everyday that I’m beautiful and smart and funny.

Thank you for knowing when to push and knowing when to comfort.

Thank you for always being honest with me, even when you know it’s hard.

Thank you for believing in me the same way I believe in myself.

Thank you for accepting all the pieces of my past that even I have trouble accepting.

Thank you for never making me feel like how I felt before.

Thank you for being you.

I know I may not say it all the time, but I mean it: thank you.

You’re the one I needed most when I was trying to convince myself I didn’t need anyone at all. I’m glad you broke down my walls anyway.

Every day I spend with you reminds me how I should be treated, and makes me wonder why I ever let someone treat me lesser. Every day I spend with you makes me ask for another and another.