If you've ever had your heart broken, you know getting on the other side of it is a process. The journey will be what you make of it.
I would’ve used the word divorce, but that would only describe the part where lawyers & accountants got involved. As difficult as that was, the “break-up” was indeed the hard part.
He was handsome, soft-spoken, charming and a little mysterious. Despite my best efforts not to, I fell deeply and madly in love almost immediately. I can still recall the exact moment it happened. We stood on a street corner together. It was a sliding glass door moment as he swept my hair off my shoulder. He was all wrong for me, but there was something about him. Something about me when I was with him. So, with reckless abandon, I dove right in completely ignoring the sound of the blaring sirens going off in my head.
For years, we shared this intense love for one another. It was the kind of love where you lose yourself willingly. But it was always me, him and the big pink elephant in the room. We disregarded the truth about some significant and fundamental things. Those things would inevitably erode the longevity of what we shared. But we kept ignoring them and allowed ourselves to fall deeper.
“The funny thing about the truth is, it always gets its way.”
The inevitable and dreaded day finally arrived, and we parted ways. I spent the next year devastated, healing, digging deep and challenging myself. I knew early on, I didn’t want to just survive it. I wanted to understand my current definition of love so I could better align myself with how I wanted to experience it moving forward. I also knew for this to happen, I would need to unpack it all and be willing to learn something about myself...good, bad or indifferent.
Looking back, there were so many things I didn’t know. Things I’m grateful to understand today because they helped to diffuse fears that kept me stuck. Some of which I grappled with for years, but the break up kicked up the dirt on those things, and the truth was now demanding to be dealt with. That truth would eventually help me gain the clarity I needed about myself in a very unexpected way.
“A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt.
Here’s what I couldn’t have known going in. My breakdown was the only way to my breakthrough. I had to go through the messy, hard part to get clear about what I really wanted from my life, to find my own inner happiness, so I didn’t place that burden on those around me. I needed to struggle to gain the kind of confidence I needed to have the difficult conversations necessary to make the changes. I’m not going to lie - It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but today I’m able to celebrate some pretty significant changes as a result of my struggle.
What stands out the most is how strong I am. I’ll never doubt that again. I had no idea going in how difficult the end would be, that I would be required to call on strength I wasn’t sure I had and that there would be many moments when I doubted myself and my ability to survive it. A magic elixir of a lot of self-love, a fantastic group of friends and a little time to heal took care of the rest.
I’ll admit, at first I was terrified of being alone and scared I wouldn’t be able to figure things out on my own. God was always right there, and somehow, it all worked out. It also never hurts to have a small tribe of ride or die girls who often picked me up, dusted me off and gave me a little “go get em’ girl - you got this” pep talk. My heart will forever be grateful to them for their strength, for listening to me, lifting me up, inspiring me to be the best version of myself in the face of no matter what and for holding space for me as I worked through what I needed to.
I’m capable of much more then I thought I was. In the year I transitioned through the break-up, I accomplished so many personal goals. I challenged myself to new things, leaned in when I was uncomfortable and never wavered no matter how hard it was - and it was. But the more I accomplished, the more curious I became about my own limits. Was I really limited or limiting myself? My curiosity became the tipping point to real, sustainable change and the answer to that question would quickly become crystal clear.
I know now that I am many things but not the sum of any one thing, one choice or experience, but rather a collection of them and I’m perfect just as I am. I’m smart, funny, snarky, bold, fearless, outspoken, soft, strong, wild, passionate, compassionate, loving, kind and empathetic. I am also disliked, and I’ve disappointed and hurt the people I love the most either directly or indirectly at one point, I’ve done things I’m not proud of, but the journey helped me to realize that it's not an either-or proposition.
I understand now that difficult conversations are a critical part of the process. Being a martyr serves no one. My happiness may hurt or be inconvenient for some, but it doesn’t mean I should sacrifice it. I will continue to always be mindful of how my choices impact those around me, BUT it does not mean anyone else’s happiness should trump mine. Pretending to be happy for the sake of sparing someone the hurtful truth is dishonest and doesn’t provide the other person with all the data they need to make their own choices. This was perhaps the most painful realization for me and at the same time the most rewarding. As it turns out, the very same people I was sacrificing for never even wanted that. Much to my delight, the relationships that were most important to me not only remained intact but were much stronger having shared in the journey to me speaking and living my authentic truth.
The most important lesson I learned is that I always have a choice. My life today is a result of a succession of decisions I’ve made up to this point. If I want something to be different, I need only chose differently. The caveat...sometimes choosing to change would feel natural and other times choosing will be downright excruciating. It’s still always a choice though, and my outcome in any given situation will always be in direct proportion to the choices I make.
Arriving at this moment resembles more of a broken down hallelujah, but in the end, I’m so grateful for the light I found inside myself because I didn’t even know it was there. I’m familiar to myself, but distinctly different now. And for the first time, I can honestly say, I love all the parts of me...even the parts I don’t always like. I know now that I am, single-handedly, responsible for my own happiness and the beauty of it all is, I get to choose that.
Be brave, be vulnerable, speak your truth.