Honestly I tried not to talk about this in detail, aside from tiny bits of references to it on Twitter. If you scroll back long enough on my social media, you’ll eventually see pictures of me with my previous partner (along with some unflattering photos of me). We broke up in the latter part of 2015 after 5 (very slow) years of being together and while it stung like hell, in the end I was more than glad it was over.
I’m now in a much happier and healthier relationship, thankfully. I finally feel my life is heading somewhere good, and the days couldn’t get any better. Today I thought I’d share some of the things I picked up on my way from being in a terrible place to where I am now.
On listening to others
I never realized it but I was a completely unpleasant person back then. I was spiteful, negative, and very, very unhappy. The thing is, I never realized I was unhappy – I’ve always thought it was Just The Way Things Are. But my friends and family noticed. In the entire time I’ve been with my ex, I’ve heard one too many “Just walk away” and “He’s not good for you” to count, but back then I dismissed it all thinking it’s just something people say.
I took their words for granted and stayed. Turns out, if your loved ones don’t like your partner, there’s likely a very good reason why. It wasn’t until I had a good talk with my sister and some friends shortly after the breakup that I realized what he and the relationship was turning me into, and what could have happened if I had just stubbornly plodded on. I’d probably still be miserable. It pays to listen to those close to you, too, even if it’s not what you want to hear. (My favorite was “He’s too stupid for you!”)
Being single didn’t mean I was alone
I had a friend ask me why I was so afraid to let go. At the time, I was already so anxious over the thought of breaking up that I couldn’t help but be a little dramatic. I told him I felt like I was jumping off from a ship into the open sea without a life jacket and I can’t swim, and no thanks this ship has holes but it’s still somewhat okay, and I don’t even know if I’ll find another ship.
His response was, Dude. Just bring a boat. You’ve got friends who will paddle with you. And then he looked at me like I was an idiot, lol. Overrated metaphors aside, he let me see that venturing out into the world by myself didn’t mean I should do it alone; I had a support group in the form of my family and friends. Being independent didn’t mean I had to isolate myself from the people who cared about me.
On giving yourself time
The aftermath of the breakup was a hazy, tangled mess of memories (aided by alcohol, no doubt). Everything sped up to a blur and I found myself too busy to even think about anything. Eventually I found home in the arms of my best friend and I couldn’t ask for more, but in hindsight I should have given myself time to grieve, internalize, and process what had happened before I went into a new relationship.
Things happened pretty quickly with Jed and while we were (still are) quite happy, at the beginning of the relationship I felt that I didn’t deserve him while I was still broken and healing, and he definitely didn’t deserve picking up what’s left of me after my failed relationship. It was a long road to recovery and I was lucky to have found someone who made the process so easy for me, but I felt that this is something I should have done by myself, for myself.
On moving on and moving forward
Oh, boy. Back when the breakup was still fresh, I thought about removing some of the more… sentimental entries I made in the past. I felt that just as my ex didn’t have a place in my life anymore, they, too, didn’t belong anymore in my blog, that I didn’t want to have anything to do with him, or anything that reminded me of him and our time together.
Move on, they said. I’ve had a lot of time in between clicking the Delete button and watching my cursor move in circles, anywhere else but there. By deleting these entries – essentially memories, experiences – was it wise for me to move on when moving on, to me, meant forgetting? Truth be told I never liked saying I’m ‘moving on’. (Yuck, so jologs.)
The phrase always left a bitter taste in my mouth, and certainly not because I’m bitter myself, but there I was throwing the words around after we called it quits. In my head, it looked like I’m dusting my hands clean and walking away from the rubble without taking anything with me. Which, in retrospect, isn’t all that bad; if you want to remove yourself from the bad stuff, you’re free to do as you please.
But moving on, to me, carried the same sense as getting a new toothbrush after you’re done with the old one. And while my failed relationship wasn’t all sunshine daisies, and butter mellow, I knew it didn’t deserve to be dismissed so casually like it didn’t once occupy a significant part of my life.
I didn’t want to move on, I wanted to move forward.
I refuse to wipe my slate blank and go back to square 1 because that would mean I didn’t learn anything; to pretend it didn’t happen would be totally unfair to me, my ex, and to my future partner. Whether I liked it or not, those 5 years played a part of making me who I am now. I came out of that relationship knowing what I want, and, no matter how vague, an idea of how to get it.
I’m not saying I want to remain stuck on the past – it’s the last thing I want. I’m saying I want to take the experiences, even the pain, which are inevitably part of me forever, with me so I can grow.
This is about me wanting to be able to talk about my past openly, without fearing it, without inhibitions, and without it affecting me negatively. I’m moving forward carrying all of this not as baggage, but as a part of me.
This is about acknowledging the good and the bad so I can become a better version of me. And that sounded a lot better than leaving the past behind a locked door.