I've been through that, too. My ex was kind of borderline mentally and emotionally abusive. He wasn't always awful, but he never showed real love or appreciation. In fact, I had decided to stick with him despite our difficulties...and then he dumped me! I think what happened was that one of my ways of dealing with his picking on me was to deflate it and not jump to the bait. For example when he said I was too fat, I told him not to tell me that anymore, that I would just assume he thought I was too fat, unless he told me different. Somehow, I think I just wasn't fun for him anymore if he couldn't pick on me!
I did love him when he left me, though, and shed quite a few tears over him. But as time passed, I realized that I missed the idea of being married more than I missed him. I missed the dream of a happy marriage, but I knew I hadn't had a happy marriage for years. We were together for 7 years, and I was about 26 when we separated.
I lived with my parents, with my two kids! And went back to school. I decided I didn't want to be poor forever, so I became a nurse and now I have a great job.
Your situation is harder, because if you were childhood sweethearts, a big part of your growing up process is being left behind, too. It is hard to know who you are when you have been a part of a couple for so long. And emotional abusers take a part of you away....but it will come back.
My current husband really doesn't tolerate me being self critical...maybe some of that is left from my years of being put down by the ex. It is just so extremely different to be in a relationship with someone who acts like you are on the same team. Someone who makes you feel loved and cherished. As if he is the luckiest man on earth to have you.
Take your time to grieve, then heal. In the long run, your life will be so much sweeter without Tim. Cry for who you wish he was, and the parts of him you love and miss. Then dry your tears and move on. It takes quite a long time,but you will get there. I promise.