I was always the girl who claimed that, despite the fact that I was in a relationship, I was still independent and very much my own person. I would constantly reassure family and friends that if he broke up with me, I’d be resilient about it and feel OK within a few days.
Well, as the years went on, I could feel myself sinking further and further into the depths of a serious relationship. The longer we dated, I felt as if the consequences of a break up would be greater and exceedingly more challenging, especially as we entered our 20s. But still I would prance around maintaining the delusional idea that I was strong enough to stand on my own if anything were to ever happen.
I think I knew deep down that my whole “bouncing back” plan would not be the case at all if we were to break up. It was simply a defense mechanism I used, to make myself look a little less helpless. Continuing to fall hard and rapidly, I knew that getting over him would be extremely difficult, however, I did not realize that it would be the most painful experience I’ve ever had to endure.
When he broke up with me, I lost my breath. I felt as if the wind had been permanently knocked out of me. My concept of who I was and what I was doing with my life shattered before my eyes as I watched him leave my house and drive away, taking my confidence right along with him. I handed him the ring he gave me for Christmas and the necklace as well, which had rested comfortably on my collarbones every single day for a year and a half. I reached for that necklace every time I felt stressed or overwhelmed. It was a little nervous habit that developed subconsciously over time. It was always comforting to feel him around me, even when he was not physically there. I reached for that amethyst heart around my neck constantly.
It was amazing how every part of my life was affected and even engulfed by his presence. I made sure to buy shirts that I knew he would like the color of and that I knew would look nice with my necklace. I tried to bring him to every concert or Broadway show that I was interested in, because I wanted to incorporate him into my other interests. I always wore the perfume that he went crazy for even when I was sick of the aroma, simply because it made him happy. It wasn’t a controlling sort of thing; I did these things not because he told me to or “made me.” I did what I did because I wanted to fit seamlessly into what he considered to be his perfect match.
Like so many of us do, I lost myself in the relationship. Yes, I was a functioning human being with the same old sense of humor and physical appearance, but I was not as independent as I had tricked everyone into believing. My world came crashing down the second he told me we couldn’t be together anymore. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror without my necklace or without the spark in my eyes, which I greatly attributed to his love.
There is a great danger in falling in love; the primary concern of course being the possibility that you will get hurt in the end. There’s also the vulnerability that you let the other person see in a relationship. But to me the most dangerous part of falling in love is the process of falling out of love. It’s realizing that, even if the relationship wasn’t controlling or toxic, you have lost yourself in that other person. It’s the aftermath of the broken heart that can really be killer. Finding old pictures and seeing yourself so incredibly happy, is one of the hardest parts of picking up the pieces.
The danger is in the realization that your person is no longer your person anymore. The danger is the overwhelming sadness you feel when you hear love songs, your songs, on the radio. The danger is in the process of becoming an individual again. The danger is hitting rock bottom and trying to find a way to see the light again. The danger is desperately struggling to find yourself when you didn’t even recognize that you were lost to begin with.
You can carry on with the optimistic mindset that you will be fine if they break up with you, but that is simply a tool that we use to protect ourselves. You will not be OK at first. And that’s fine. You will find the strength to pick yourself up off the floor in time. On your own time.
I have to start from square one. I have to rebuild relationships with people, including him. So many of my best friends are people who have only known me while I was someone’s girlfriend. I have to reestablish myself as a single person to everyone in my life.
Learning to be me again is a daunting task. I used him as a crutch to not deal with so many of my imperfections. I need to rediscover what is great about me. I need to redesign myself to fit my own needs, rather than the needs of a man. I need to reteach myself how to be happy without him, which is exceptionally problematic being that I relied on him for every smile and every laugh at the end of the day.
There are so many steps I need to take in order to become an individual again. I have been part of a team for a very long time. It’s hard to be a part of a team when the other person gives you nothing to work with. I lost myself in trying to win the game for the both of us. I pulled the weight in our relationship, constantly trying to make up for whatever he lacked.
Now I have to face this world on my own. Don’t get me wrong, that is absolutely terrifying but at the same time, going into this great big world without anyone holding my hand is kind of wonderful. It really shows you what you’re made of. I need to be in love with myself before I can be in love with anyone else. Right now I’m taking baby steps, the first of which is learning to reach for my goals rather than his necklace.