…or: what I learned from the end of my relationship.
Photos: Jacqueline Filmore
One year. Today officially marks the day of the end of my last relationship, a year ago. I moved on and I feel like it’s time to have a quick look back and talk about what I learned from everything that’s happened*. So many wonderful things happened in this year, → being single is absolutely fine and I’m actually enjoying it. It’s an amazing chance to be able to get to know myself after all these years. It was important for my very own personal growth and evolution and I’m actually thankful for that. So just in case my ex reads this: thank you for leaving me. You couldn’t have given me something better. You just chose the wrong way how to do it, but it doesn’t matter anymore.
After a break-up it’s hard to understand that this is not the end of the world. Especially if you’re not the one who made the decision to end it all. But luckily, after some time, you realize that there’s something good about it and that it’s actually true that if one door closes, at least another one opens. It took me a few months to accept my new life, my new situation, being single and “alone” but it also made me think about those 8 years in a relationship. Of course, I also found a few errors on my side, but – and that’s what matters in the end – I’ve learned a lot by reflecting about what went wrong. And that’s why I decided to change a lot… here’s 5 things I learned from the end of my relationship.
* I know you all want to know what happened but I still don’t really want to talk about it. Maybe, some day, I will – maybe not. The past is the past and I’m glad that I’ve gotten my closure, even though there’s still a divorce in front of me. Since there were some rumors of abuse: no. He didn’t hurt me physically.
I’m capable of (almost) everything – on my own.
My biggest error of them all was believing that I need somebody else to be able to do things. I made myself totally dependent of another person and this is the worst you can do to yourself – and to a relationship. Actually thinking that you can’t do stuff on your own is wrong on so many levels – because you can! I was always afraid of being alone, so much that my → depression and anxiety made me fear leaving the house on my own. Just think about it – I couldn’t get out of the house without another person – be it my ex, a friend or at least knowing that there’s a cab waiting downstairs to bring me to an event or somewhere else. This is SO not okay. This isn’t life. It’s being a prisoner of your own. It’s horrible and it makes you weak and think that you’re a complete loser. Of course, this is something that happens insidiously. That’s a point that I, in retrospect, regret a lot: I should have asked for help when it wasn’t that bad, when I was still leaving the house on my own but already feeling anxious about it. My depression and anxiety made me believe that I need somebody else to do the easiest things, like getting up from bed, taking a shower, going out for (grocery) shopping,… I’m seriously ashamed to write this because it’s embarrassing to be an adult person who’s completely dependent on somebody being at her side for normal activities!
But I’m actually proud of myself that I took this break-up as my final chance to change something. I immediately asked for help, I looked for a therapist and I went in there and told her absolutely everything that’s wrong with me. I told her about my fears – the fear of being alone, the fear of going out alone, the fear of travelling on my own, the fear of actually being normal. And now, a year later, I already made so many first steps which I can’t even believe I already did after being in such a deep black hole of being tiny and fearful. I’m able to face my anxiety and fight it. And I’m capable of so many other things that are coming, so many new things in my single life that are interesting and important and it’s actually pretty exciting to finally do something on my own and → learn it all by myself!
Don’t trust anyone 100%
even though it feels good!
I know, many will not agree – I, too, always thought that if you find the one, trusting that person with all you got is absolutely right. Until the day comes when something bad happens and that person just abandons you or cheats on you or does something else that’s horrible. Blind trust is the worst thing you can do, even though it feels good and is such a lovely thing to say about another person. Even after so many years and all the things you know about your “other half”, it’s not right to trust that person a hundred percent.
My mom always told me “one foot in the front and one in the back” – so when somebody pushes you (does something bad to you), you won’t fall cause you have a stable stand. It’s wrong to put both feet in the front (trust them with everything) but also wrong to put both feet in the back (not trust at all) – as with everything, you need to find a good balance. It’s not about keeping secrets from each other but it’s about accepting that there’s always the possibility that something can happen that won’t please you. And that’s something I did wrong. I trusted someone with all I had and then had to learn it the worst way, but at least it made me realize that this isn’t good and yes – that’s another count on the “Mom was right.” list.
Patience is a virtue!
Oh, I’m the most impatient person I’ve ever known and the break-up was hard for me cause I had to leave all my stuff for more than four months before I finally had the possibility to get another handful of clothes and personal belongings. Especially when you’re married and have to share everything because you were so stupid not to make a marriage contract (this should also be an extra point even though it’s so not romantic!), it’s all about waiting, waiting and waiting until the nightmare is finally over. Unless your relationship ended “nicely” and respectfully and you were able to talk about it. But that wasn’t my case…
Also something that actually needs a lot of patience: → having to go back to your parents and live in your old room. With all those memories. But without all your stuff. I had almost nothing here with me for months, just my cat, my computer and about 4 different outfits that had to bring me through summer. It wasn’t easy but I made it through this time. Four months later, I finally had the chance to get a few more clothes (still had to leave about 90% and that gave me a little meltdown when I was standing in front of them but couldn’t take everything with me, I actually cried in front of my closet) and some other stuff like my beloved vacuum cleaner (I’m crazy, haha!), my coffee machine and a few little personal belongings. Only after more than half a year, I finally got all my things back, except for those I had to leave with him – even though they were mine. But hey, it’s just things…
I now know what I want!
After the most horrible disappointment I had to go through of actually trusting and loving the wrong person, it made me understand what I actually want in a man. First of all, I want a man, not a coward. I want a man who speaks up, who’s able to talk about his feelings and whatever bothers him, as well as the things that make him happy. I want a man that makes me feel safe but also gives me enough space and freedom to be able to say that I can do it on my own. I want a man that makes me feel loved and cared of but at the same time independent. I want a man that makes me feel stronger and helps me evolve, instead of holding me down. I want a relationship on equal terms, I don’t wanna choose a side cause we’re sharing it all. I want a man who knows respect and honesty.
But the most important lesson of the last 12 months: I know that I don’t need a man in my life. ;)
I am strong!
Screw it, there’s no other way to say it: a break-up is fucking hell and hurts so much you want to die (especially when you’re already depressive and scared of life). A break-up sucks. Always. But yes, it’s the worst when you’ve been together for so many years, even married, and then – poof! – some shit happens and you’re alone again. At 27. I didn’t really know what to do cause this was my first actual break-up (everything before this relationship was kinda kid stuff that didn’t really matter) and then it came with a BOOM and hit me so hard I crashed with my face in a burning hell of “my life is over”, “I wanna be dead”, “I need to win him back”, “killing myself is the only way to solve this problem” (yeah, the thoughts – I never really wanted to do it but well,…) and “WHYYYYY?”. All. The. Time. For days, weeks, months. Even though I must say that after about a month and a half I finally had that important moment of understanding that this is not worth it. It was still horrible, though, and hurt so much… It felt like life had decided to betray me and make me feel all those bad feelings at the same time. The sadness that it’s over. The anger about how it happened. The hope that it was just a terrible joke. The disappointment about a person that claimed to love you for so many years. The even bigger anger about wanting revenge. The major change when you feel happiness and acceptance about the fact that it’s over. And finally: indifference.
While “mourning”, I did something that helped me a lot: I started to write about it. A classic diary. For 100 days, I wrote down everything I felt, everything I wanted to say to him, everything I wanted to do and what thoughts were killing me. And after some time, you can actually read how I’m changing. From terribly sad to a stronger person – I switched from sad to full of anger and, let’s be honest, hate. Because I didn’t deserve this. Nobody deserves what happened to me. And that’s when I became stronger and stronger every day. It started with anger but then changed into a strong will of wanting to change, wanting to be an independent and strong person. You can actually read how I’m fighting my way back to life. Every little step. Every conquest of my own life I’ve done. Doing things I had forgotten I can do alone. Doing things I believed I never could. Being independent. And getting to know myself as a completely new person. As a person that’s capable of everything. A person that’s strong. And I’m proud of myself.