A meaningful relationship tends to plant its roots very deep in the lives of two people, and it doesn’t stop there, because its influence also extends to families and social life. When those roots are ripped out of the little universe these two people tried so hard to create, things can get really messy.
Ending a long relationship is ugly, no matter what kind of person you are. In my case, it was six years of love and sharing and a bonus year of hatred and hurt. There were dark moments after our breakup when I thought it wasn’t worth it because it was too much anger and frustrations in the end, and both of us were left with deep scars that still haven’t healed.
Although I didn’t believe this – time does heal, and for some, it may take longer to get back on their feet, but it does happen eventually. However, it won’t happen on its own and it’s not simple – it involves a lot of hard work and you need to do it by yourself, because no one else will.
1. Back to Independence
Sharing your life with another person can be very beneficial for both sides – managing incomes, planning the future and helping each other out is a wonderful thing, but it does imply mutual trust and that you’ll depend on another person. Both have a tendency to fade out when a relationship has ended.
Fear is a great factor when the relationship comes to an end – at least it was for me. I completely lost all faith in my skills and my confidence was in the negative spectrum for longer than I’d care to admit. That being said, my decision was impacted by me being afraid that I’m not capable of being on my own.
Naturally, that isn’t something I realized right away – it was buried somewhere in my subconscious. Therefore, the very first piece of advice I’d like to give to anyone who’s ending a relationship that became poisonous for both parties is not to run away from solitude and treat it not as being alone but as being independent.
I’m sure you must remember how excited you were when you first left your parents’ home to make it on your own. Well, this is a chance for another fresh start. Besides, if you can’t trust yourself, chances are you can’t really trust anyone.
2. Introspection and Growth
I was able to see some clarity just before we decided to take different paths in the very next intersection because a single thought filled my mind. I don’t know if I read or heard it sometime earlier, but it came to my memory in the right moment – I won’t get anywhere if I continue repeating the same actions and continue expecting different results.
The thing is that I did everything in my power to save what we had, but that still wasn’t possible because we were so deep in a rut that we couldn’t help each other out, no matter how much we tried. I was constantly angry with him, and me as well, because it wasn’t clear to me how two smart people who love each other very much can be that helpless.
The worst feeling I ever experienced is having my hands tied. It seemed like anywhere I move and get my hopes up just for a bit, and it turns out I’m actually going two steps backward. That’s just frustrating, to say the least.
Unfortunately, I know a few couples who happen to be my close friends, who have gone through the same things and I had their example (not) to follow. Some of them became impossibly ignorant to the world around them and being unable to realize that their disappointment made them dull, while others fell into despair and started questioning everything because of their insecurities.
Instead of doing any of those two extremes, I tried to turn to developing introspectiveness. That’s a lie actually; during the first period, I was all about not thinking about the relationship at all, because that made me feel depressed. After that was over, I started thinking about what actually happened. What were the events that lead us to the point of no return?
I’m not speaking about nostalgia and crying over spilled milk – I tried to use retrospection to my advantage and learn from my own mistakes so that (hopefully) I never have to repeat them again. I’d say this method was fairly successful and that I was able to grow as a person.
3. You Become Stronger
Which brings me to my next point – co-dependence implies weakness. I understand that this might sound a bit bitter, but I have my reasons to be resentful and question this whole philosophy that stands behind monogamy and everything that goes with it.
My ex and I made a mistake in the very beginning because we started a relationship where there were no adults – we were just a couple of immature children, nothing more. I wouldn’t even dare to deny we had a couple of golden years when we worked as a well-coordinated team and when every problem we encountered was simple to solve. We were each other’s gravity and just being able to feel that kind of connection makes everything that came afterward worth the trouble.
However, growing into an adult isn’t easy when you should be one already, and taking responsibility for things that happened in your life feels like being cornered. Obviously, it’s necessary for you to give yourself time to mourn the possible future that’s never going to happen, but you also need to realize that it’s not like anyone died.
So, you have two different choices here (although only one of them is the right one) – you can either spend the rest of your life as a shadow of a real live person, or you can come out of this stronger and more powerful than you ever were. A variety in experience makes us tough; I know this doesn’t sound very comforting right now, but the fact is that you can learn from this and go into the next relationship prepared for whatever’s coming.
I read somewhere recently how a significant percentage of relationships are doomed to failure because the two people involved in it spend way too much time and effort working on their other half and thus they neglect themselves, their future individually, and the plans they made as a couple. In order for a relationship to work out, two people need to stand firm on the ground before entering a serious relationship – you shouldn’t be each other’s project, you know. The only project you should be working on is building a future together.
4. Time to Work on Yourself
And now, I’d like for you to be realistic and ask you this one question – what would your future be like if you stayed together? Many couples fool themselves by taking drastic measures in times of despair, like moving in together, getting married and even having kids, in the hope that they will solve their problems.
All of the aforementioned are temporary solutions which can create an illusion of happiness for a month, a year, or a couple of years at best. If you do have a good reason to break up, something that simply makes you unhappy, you shouldn’t try to cover it up with life changes.
Being uncertain of yourself and the decisions you make will reflect on your relationship sooner or later, and trying to sweep the dirt under a brand new carpet doesn’t mean that the nasty will go away. As a matter of fact, it will only multiply and become even more difficult to clean up in time.
Whether you decide to treat it as a gift or a curse, you are now single and you should use this time to become everything you always wanted to be. Your focus is now on you and you alone, and the vision of your future self is yet to be fashioned; this is something terrifying, difficult and exciting, all at the same time.
A breakup shouldn’t define who you are, nor should it control your future. Relationships past should be there to make you learn what you really want and teach you not to settle for anything. Be that partner you want for yourself and the pieces of the puzzle will fall in their place eventually.
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