Ending a relationship is never easy. Personally, it’s incredibly hard for me. You can ask any of my past significant others, I do not know how to handle breaking up very well. (I think I do, but I don’t.) To be honest, any aspect of ending a relationship I don’t handle well. Whether it’s the actual “break up” or dealing with the aftermath, I’m not graceful in the ways I have learned to cope. (I’m working on it, give ya girl a break, I feel deeply).
However, I’ve been working incredibly hard lately on facing my emotions and letting myself feel every single emotion completely. Through this journey I’ve noticed that my perspectives on love, past loves and those awkward almost-relationships have completely changed. I have always been quick to associate negative feelings with relationships that didn’t work out. So looking back on past relationships now, it’s almost as if I see a totally different relationship. Instead of focusing on all the negative experiences and outcomes, I see how much I’ve grown personally and how these relationships shaped me for the ones following. With each failed relationship I only come closer to being the woman I want to be for the relationship I strive for.
While reflecting, I’ve come to a happy realization: not all relationships are meant for love. Becoming aware of this has made moving on and letting go of past relationships that much easier for me. Because when you hold every single failed relationship as a failed attempt at love, it can be incredibly disheartening. It can make the idea of starting a new relationship scary. But adopting this new way of approaching my past relationships has done wonders for my outlook about the future love I hope to find.
I’ve not only accepted that not every relationship was meant for love, but also accepted the inadvertent lesson I was taught through each relationship.
Personal growth is more valuable than longevity
I was the girl who seemed to validate her relationships by the amount of time we had been together. So when it came to all those awkward almost-relationships, I struggled a lot. For awhile it seemed I couldn’t get passed the two month mark before each relationship seemed to fizzle out. And during that time in my life it was affecting my self worth beyond belief. It was heartbreaking for me, honestly. However, going through these experiences only helped me grow into the woman I am now. The woman who enjoys finding the balance in life: loving others and most importantly loving yourself.
Attachment is healthy, enmeshment is not
As I’ve gotten older, as well as become well educated in psychology, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a somewhat ambivalent/anxious attachment style. I’m not going to dive deep into a psychology lesson right now, but the keyword anxious should tell you a lot. This was highlighted in most of my early relationships. I was insecure, distrustful, unsure of everything. Because of this, I craved to always be involved in some way in my significant other’s life. Even in things I had no interest in, I still wanted to be involved.
In retrospect, I see that I wanted our two separate lives to be one. Which is the most unhealthy thing you could do in a relationship. These relationships were huge red flags! Not necessarily because the person or relationship was bad for me. Only that I was not ready in any way to be in a full committed relationship. I still had a lot of aspects of myself that I needed to attend to.
I needed to be okay with being alone in all aspects. I needed to know how to think for only myself. I needed to be responsible for just me. I needed to know how to breathe for no one but myself, to live my life for no one but myself.
Letting go is a part of life
Because of my need to be extremely involved in my significant other’s life, I found letting go to be extremely hard. It was debilitating. My disposition to depression was no help either. I would sink to extreme lows and wallow in my sadness, often throwing myself an extended pity party.
Through a lot of work on understanding myself, I have come to several important facets that have made letting go that much easier (bearable) for me. I appreciate the beauty of the time spent together. Though letting go is never easy, it is easier to appreciate the experience when you come from a place of love and peace.
This one will come with time; you won’t feel this way after an immediate break up. However, I cannot explain the joy you are able to feel when you see them with someone who could love them in ways you never could. Not only does it feel great to see someone genuinely happy in a relationship that you may have struggled with. But it is also great knowing every connection you make is unique and different from another. What may not have worked for you will be perfect for someone else.
We all have different ways of coping with the end of a relationship. If you find yourself sinking to an extremely low place in the aftermath I encourage you to focus inward. It will be hard; working on yourself is hardly ever easy. But it will be worth it.
Dive deep, ask questions, and most of all, allow yourself grace.