Next February will mark 2 years of me “living the single life.”
In 2015, I met a man. It was glorious. We loved the same things and from the start our connection was strong. We finished each other’s sentences and could spend hours together listening to music or just talking. I was head over heels in love and I gave the relationship my all.
We experienced normal relationship fights and everything played out much like I expected it to. We spent a blissful summer together after I graduated from high school in 2015 exploring our city and falling deeper in love.
I can’t mark exactly when, and I don’t care to, but things began to shift. It wasn’t immediate, but it left me awake at night with tears in the corners of my eyes. This newly found tension was palpable, and my own intuition kept raising red flags, but I dismissed them.
I was a college student, adjusting to living away from home for the first time in 18 years and I was discovering what it meant to be me, in all the wrong ways.
What began to happen was I stayed attached. I wouldn’t say he pulled away, but when I SHOULD HAVE been exploring myself as an adult in a new environment, I instead relied on someone else to create safety and comfort for me. The honeymoon phase wore off and I was left scrambling to try and convince someone else to show me what I mean instead of learning how to know my own self-worth.
As the year progressed things continued to spiral. We both chose our own separate unhealthy coping mechanisms to drown out the confusion we felt being lost in one another and not standing on our own.
When I should have left–I stayed. When I should have focused on my own health and wellbeing, I put someone else’s first. When I knew in my gut that something wasn’t right, I ignored it and trudged forward. Empathy is my fatal flaw, but I’ll never regret the love and support I offered, I only wish I could’ve offered it to myself first.
The end was inevitable and we spent the last five months of our relationship tied together by a flimsy string. The fights, which used to be few and far between now echoed throughout my mind every night before I fell asleep. The chasm between us grew wider and wider, but I perched on the tightrope and continued walking towards him to “repair” what we had.
The things that happened between us shook me to my core. It hurt me deeply and the wounds festered for months. I went through waves of depression and anxiety as a result of the breakup and I tried to run from the issues at hand: I didn’t know how to love myself. I was confused, lost, and didn’t know where to begin. But the beauty of healing is that it isn’t linear. You can start from the top, the bottom, or wherever you’re at.
All of the emotions that consumed me made me realize it wasn’t him. It was never him. The way we hurt each other and the way that I believed he hurt me was never the issue. He was only a pawn. The catalyst for the deepest healing I’ve ever experienced. Wounds heal. Time heals. The way that things happened, needed to happen in order to rock my world and break me wide open.
By grace alone, something changed this time around when I went looking for answers. Something tethered my feet to the ground and instead of looking outwards, I looked inwards.
The journey wasn’t pretty. I would hole up in my room at night and just sob. The anger that boiled to the surface consumed me and the floodgates within me burst. All of the emotions I repressed throughout my entire life came hurdling forward, knocking on my door saying “Hello, this time you CAN’T run away.” I spent a majority of my summer break crying, journaling and letting myself acknowledge the fact that this shit really sucked.
I found the handmade box full of notes, ticket stubs, photographs and dried flowers I made him for our one year anniversary.
I pulled the box down from the shelf, apprehensive at first. I decided to poke the wound. But now, it doesn’t hurt.
I shuffled through the things, read the notes and it became overwhelmingly evident to me as a small smile drifted across my face that things are divinely orchestrated and it is OUR choice to put emotion with the lessons we learn. I felt happy, and I feel like I have accepted that both good AND bad can coexist within memories of a situation.
I have harbored so much bitterness in my life towards those who have hurt me but finally, I have begun to understand that every lesson is only put in your way to take you to new heights, or in my case, to take you deeper.
I won’t ever lie and say the situation that put me here was a good one. But I would also never trade it for the world. I’ve learned so much about forgiveness, compassion, healing and myself in the past year as a result. My relationships with others are stronger and my relationship with myself is unfailing.
In many of the notes I wrote, I told him how I’d love him forever. Although that love isn’t romantic, I do believe I will love the experience he gave me and from the absolute center of my soul, I am grateful for every moment that led me to where I am today.