It's a bit over a year and looking back there are absolutes that I adhere to now because of my horrible ex.
1. I will speak what is on my mind. Without question my exN entered my life when I was vulnerable and I felt that by contradicting him I would lose him. Time after time he would use what is called negative reinforcement to connect my stating my opinion to his pushing me away. Please understand that he does not have the intelligence to know what he did at the time but the instinctual animal that he is knew how to make it work and it did.
Because of this manipulation I say what is on my mind - as tactfully as I can but I won't be silent when I am degraded, insulted or feel slighted. Never again.
2. I will be friends with whom I choose and they are as important as my partner is when it comes to balance in my life. My exN isolated me from my friends and family. He worked tirelessly to make sure people thought the worst of me or ruin time I spent with my family. He knew what he was doing and it makes me sick to think I was so caught up in his crap that I allowed it.
In my current relationship my partner respects and understands the need for personal time and the need for relationships with people outside the two of us. Bless him for that.
3. I will be more cautious as to whom I trust with my friendship and my heart. Having your life ripped from you and your emotions used against you is the worst betrayal and when it is done by someone who says they love you it makes it that so much worse.
My partner and I have been through similar experiences and we were cautious at first but have since gifted each other with 100% trust. It took work and proof and some stumbles but it is there and gets stronger each day.
4. Forgive but don't forget. This has been the hardest for me as it's been more about forgiving myself and looking in the mirror and knowing I am only human and I make mistakes. We all make mistakes.
I regret ever meeting my exN. I want that time back in my life but I have learned that I cannot dwell on that - to dwell on that is to bring back emotions and anger at the whole situation of his cheating, lying and stealing from me. Instead I work on forgiving myself for wanting to help what appeared to be a person in need and that I should not punish myself for being a good, caring, giving person as I am not the first to be fooled this way. Their facades are well built but horrific when they crack. I would like to say that I pity him but I don't pity the animal that I dated - he isn't human so pity would be wasted.
I will never forget what he did to me but I have learned and, I think, I have learned many lessons to take forward in my life.
5. First impressions are the truest impressions. When I first met with my exN I was not impressed with much more then his physical appearance. I had decided that after our first meeting that I wasn't all that interested but then came the bombardment of texts, calls, emails and compliments. All day and evenings he swept me off my feet so I responded ignoring my first impressions. Never again. Never ever again.
There are many things I have changed since the end of the horror that was this relationship and the fallout from it. Some of it still trickles in and lands on me but I wipe it off and keep walking forward. I have been blessed with a new partner who returns all I give to him with respect and honesty.
As time moves on and I get further and further from the time I spend with my exN I am finding myself getting stronger and knowing that I will never have that man in my life again gives me peace in mind, body, heart, and soul.