She thought she’d finally found her happily ever after, but last year, Andi Dorfman‘s fairy tale dream came crashing down.
“I thought I’d be alone forever,” the former Bachelorette tells PEOPLE of her breakup with Josh Murray. The 29-year-old author of It’s Not Okay was engaged to the 31-year-old former baseball player on the season finale of the show. Eight months later, the relationship was over.
“We all have red flags in our relationships that we don’t see,” says Dorfman. “Looking back and seeing those red flags was very cathartic for me. I realized our relationship wasn’t the highlight of my life like I thought it was. So I took it off the pedestal and realized all was not lost.”
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Once she did, “I was disgusted with myself for what I put up with,” says Dorfman. “I was a strong, independent woman and I allowed [Josh] to be [emotionally abusive]. Now, I know I don’t want someone jealous or controlling. I know what won’t make me happy in [the future].”
Moving on, “I’ve let go of the hatred and the bitter feelings,” says Dorfman. “But I wasted my first engagement and that will always stick with me.”
Still, “I survived,” she says. “It hasn’t been the easiest ride, but I’m happy.”