To The One Who Came Before ‘The One’

When you broke my heart, it felt like the end of the world. I cried, a lot. I pleaded for it to not be over. I struggled, hard, to let it go. I didn’t know it would be the best thing that you ever did for me when it was happening, but isn’t that how it always goes? That’s why “hindsight is 20/20” is a thing, right?

What I learned about myself once you tried to gracefully exit my narrative was so much more than I ever could have guessed. It really was that whole “it’s not you, it’s me” thing; it quickly because less about you and so much more about me. That breakup was the catalyst for me to get my shit together and figure myself out. It triggered me to get healthy – in every sense of the word. Losing you helped me find me, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

I channeled my feelings into physical activity.

I’m wasn’t a runner. I hated to get sweaty. I was an Olympic medalist avoider of physical activity. Physical exertion? Oh, yeah, count me out. No thank you. That was me.

But then I just felt so sad that I had to do something. I couldn’t sit for one more second, crying and feeling sorry for myself because my heart felt broken. Once the wallowing stage came and went, I was left feeling restless and my bones were telling me to go. Go anywhere. Walk first. Start slow, they whispered. But… then my bones started telling me to run, not walk, to find out who I was going to be. So, that’s what I did. I didn’t know what else to do, so I dusted off some old athletic shoes, downloaded a Couch to 5k App and I started slow, but I did it. I leaned into it and rewarded myself with real running shoes once I knew that I had to do this. I met the pavement three to four days a week for about 30 minutes and I got to be present in the work my body was doing to propel me into someone I was proud to become.

I didn’t know it at the time, but every heavy breath I took, every drop of sweat, every tear I shed while running, and every time I told myself “just keep going” it was a promise to my future self. I found myself talking to God during those quiet mornings on the pavement. I found myself saying nicer things to myself every hot AF afternoon after work to get through each mile. And about halfway into training for that first 5k, something clicked, and I knew I wasn’t doing it to run away from feeling sad; I was running towards a healthy version of me, physically and mentally.

I started counseling.

I saw the writing on the wall before you called it over. I reached out to the Employee Assistance Program at my workplace to find a counselor to deal with the anxiety I couldn’t ignore anymore. I told her I was worried I was going to run every relationship I would ever have into the ground and I couldn’t bear the thought of that. I ripped the Band-Aid off on all of my hang-ups and emotional scars I’d spent all those years trying to hide, or, worse yet, pretend weren’t there.

Therapy taught me skills for how to cope with my emotions, and not be completely overwhelmed by them. I learned how to identify triggers for that anxiety and what to do with myself when I was triggered. Therapy taught me that I am not a slave to every feeling I have and that it’s important to identify truth. Was I really not worth loving, or was I just sad? Was I really a failure, or had that relationship taught me all it could and now that season was over? Was I really a pathetic loser, or was I just wallowing in self-pity? I learned about self-talk and how to find ways to feed my soul. My body, and my counselor kept saying, “Keep running, shed those pounds, and those unhealthy relationships. Keep going.”

I found love.

I eventually found myself in a phase of unapologetic love for myself. I was being nicer to myself, I felt comfortable in my own skin for the first time and I got to a place where I felt like my body was one I wasn’t embarrassed to have. I was confident for what felt like the first time ever.

I embraced the mantra “Try New Things” and opened myself back up to the possibility of dating again because I had finally invested in myself. I was a whole person, and I decided I was going to look for another whole person. This meant setting boundaries and being willing to walk away from anyone who didn’t see me at least as awesome and worthy as I did. Those fuckboys who talk a good game but lack follow through? No thank you. Call me bougie and a traditionalist, but if you ask me out on a date and make me pay? Boy, bye. You’re not willing to talk about intentions at the outset? You’re not the one for me, sorry not sorry.

It was a journey, getting over you. You’re the catalyst that launched the whole beautiful life I have now, and your goodbye taught me more about me than any classroom ever could have. Life experience is the best teacher there is, and you’re the one that led me to finding myself. The person I became after you helped me find my husband. He’s not perfect either, but he’s perfect for me. And even though some days are harder than others, we both show up every day and we keep showing up. We have a shared belief system and core values. We laugh at the same stupid stuff. We balance each other out. We’ve created a life I love and a perfect little boy.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t met you first. So, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart, for breaking my heart all those years ago.

About the author
I like tacos, my planner, and talking about feelings. Follow Katie on Instagram or read more articles from Katie on Thought Catalog.

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