If a few years ago you told me that I’d be single for two years in a row, without any intention of changing the tune whatsoever, I wouldn’t believe it. Mainly because I was young and head over heels for a guy, I was ready to settle down and I couldn’t think of anything better than that (shame on me, I know).
You know, all those fairytales about love that we like so much, they don’t prepare you for the day you wake up empty inside, in complete apathy, because you’re not in love anymore. I remember that I used to get up every day, hoping that I would feel something again, but it never happened. It’s hard when the love is gone and you don’t have anything to hold onto anymore. It feels like you don’t have anything to believe in. It took me approximately half a year to have the guts to go solo, and despite all the difficulties and the uncertainties, I still don’t have a single regret.
Of course, after a three years relationship, readjusting wasn’t simple and I surely didn’t go easy on myself, as I kept thinking that there had to be something wrong with me. As if falling out of love was the worst deed I could do. As if it was a rational choice. The good news is, I survived –we all do- and I’ve spent my new free time trying to get back the pieces of the old me I lost along the way. I realized I was pretending to be someone I was not, just to please someone else. I believe I have learned a thing or two on the matter, and that it’s worth to share my newly acquired wisdom. Here we go.
1. It rarely is (only) your fault.
I spent a lot of time feeling guilty for breaking up with the one I thought I’d love forever, taking all the blame on me. I ended up realizing that I didn’t fall out of love out of boredom, but because I was giving everything I had and more to a guy too lazy to do anything in return. I was fighting tooth and nail to keep it together, but I was the only one making the effort. Of course, I wasn’t perfect either, but I was trying so hard to make it right that I completely lost myself in my attempt. The way I see it now, the break-up was a self-defense mechanism to cope with the loss of my identity. I think that you simply get to the point where you just get tired of hurting, and feeling frustrated, and not being understood, so your heart closes up and raises a few walls to keep the pain away. If it hurts you more than it makes you happy, it’s okay to let go.
2. Take your time to heal.
Take your time to grieve, to feel lost and vulnerable, and to find your way out of the darkness. Most importantly, you have to learn to count on yourself only, to listen to your inner voice and to be your #1 priority. Sometimes being selfish is a necessity. At the beginning you will be disoriented, you’re not accustomed to fulfilling your needs first, but you will get used to it. You have to look after yourself and you’re the best at it. Be patient, lick your wounds and take care of your mental health, there’s no pressure. Being single doesn’t have an expiry date, so don’t rush it. You just have to remember who you are and how much you’re worth.
3. Don’t fill the void with Mr. Nobodies.
I was six months into my lonely journey when I’ve started looking around me and I began to date random people that had nothing to do with me, just because. I tried to make them fit into a box they couldn’t fit in, I tried to adjust even if I knew it wasn’t a good fit because I didn’t like being alone. I couldn’t stand the absence of feelings, I wanted so much to be in love again that I jumped at the smallest hint of it. I soon realized it wasn’t a switch on/switch off kind of thing, and that I wasn’t doing the right thing for me: I had to work on myself to figure out what I really wanted, instead of settling down for boys beneath my worth.
4. It’s okay to break promises.
It haunted me at night when I didn’t have anyone around me to keep myself busy with. I kept rolling in bed, thinking of all the promises I broke. I am far from being a perfect human being, but I have a strict moral code: I don’t lie and I keep my word. Promises have always been a big deal to me because if you can’t keep your word, you can’t really be trusted, or at least, that’s the way I see it. I tortured myself with the thought of all the vanished promises I broke to set myself free. As a highly sensitive person, I am deeply affected by everything I feel: all the pain got under my skin, stinging me like a million needles because I was disappointed in myself and I didn’t know what to do.
Don’t go too hard on yourself. It took me a long while to understand that the most important promise you can make is to take care of yourself, and that means that if you’re in a toxic relationship you have every right to run away as fast as you can. I have finally learned to put myself first.
5. There is another kind of love.
The thing that hurt me the most at the time is that I felt like I couldn’t feel the love anymore. I’m not love material, I kept saying to myself. After a while though, I realized that love actually is all around me, in different shapes and colors. Love is my friends, love is my family, love is my favorite city. It’s the book I’ve read a thousand times and the songs I’ve listened to death to. It’s the walks in the park at sunset and the footprints in the sand at dawn. It’s the smile I give to others and the laughs of those who are around me.
In my loneliness, I never felt more loved. At the end, I lost what I thought I wanted, but I found who I was meant to be, and that’s much more than what I could hope for.