Words by ILY contributor.
Trigger warning: The following piece features explicit, potentially distressing language.
“Are you going to keep cheating on me or are you going to shape up?” I asked. “Kim, I just fucked four bitches. I don’t love you,” he replied.
In the spring of 2014, with an online network of over 300 thousand followers watching, 23-year-old Wilhelmina model Kim Johansson moved a thousand miles away from home for love. One minute, she’s leaving her life behind for love, then next she’s being choked by that same love.
Love is both a spiritual and physical experience. In the beginning it’s all magic. You feel invincible.
“I left my family to be with my best friend, the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”
But being in love is not only about finding a distinct connection between you and another, but also about both partners choosing to respect and maintain that connection every single day.
“He just turned. He’d come home at 4 or 5 in the morning smelling like cigarettes and alcohol, wanting to fuck me after being with another girl, or several, that same night. He’d tell me what I couldn’t tweet and who I couldn’t be friends with. I had never felt so low and alone. That’s when I knew I needed to move back to Atlanta. How was I going to let someone who obviously didn’t care about me the way I cared about him take my confidence away? I needed to get back to being me.”
When you’re in love and your partner makes you feel like you are more than enough inside out it’s hard not to sink into the opposite thought when they wake up one day and think otherwise.
“That day when I left Toronto, I was sitting in the airport with my luggage just crying. I was broken. I was in such an unhealthy space physically and mentally but I still loved myself enough to know that this was the right decision. I needed my family and friends. I needed the right support around me to get through this and get back to being me.”
With her followers watching a series of live-feed like posts on her Tumblr blog regarding her sudden leave, the questions and speculations started pouring in. As online bystanders we meet people online everyday. We leave comments and emojis here and there as virtual signs of love, support, or disgust. On some occasions enough of us end up resonating with and wanting to stay connected to the same individual. Their personality and way of letting us into their world bring them celebrity, we watch them rise, but if they fall it is that same celebrity that begs on them to make a decision to stay silent or speak out about the wounds that they suffer offline. Kim chose to speak.
“Some of my followers have been with me for years. They know what I sound and look like when I’m being myself. They knew I was unhappy and supported my decision. I’ve grown in so many ways in front of them. I love being that female for them. I love being someone they can look up to. They love me because I’m real and I’m raw and that relationship was getting in the way of that. I touch on a lot of things that other bloggers don’t and they love that. I don’t censor myself. I’m real about what I believe in, and I just couldn’t be that way with that person”
Even with being a thousand miles away it’s always hard not wandering into thoughts of what could have been with your lost love.
“Sometimes I would just cry and hope that he would hit me up. I hoped that he was missing me, but then I’d tell myself, ‘No!’ Don’t you remember how you felt when you were with him? Don’t you remember being so alone?’ I miss my old best friend, but that person is gone.”
Both men and women seek online advice from Kim on serious issues such as abuse and abortion. The loyalty of support between she and her followers has placed her in a type of role model position.
“I just want other people to know that it’s not normal. Never excuse negativity from your loved one. You should be able to be yourself and progress with that person instead of being left in the dark. I promise you it gets better as soon as you start focusing on the future and look out for yourself. And reach out! Surround yourself with people that actually love you.”
For Kim, progression after a heartache is in restoring your independence and staying true to the love you have for yourself, while being in healthy spaces surrounded by supportive people who genuinely want to see you happy.
“I’m way happier now. I look back and see all the amazing experiences I’ve had and people I’ve met since leaving that dark space and I’m so grateful. After I left that relationship, I flourished.”
Update: This piece was updated