The last week of July is fraught with minefields in my romantic history. It marks the week my ex and I first got together, the week we began our year of long distance, the week we ended our year of long distance, and the week where I realized with a cold, sinking feeling in my stomach that we were fighting against the fact that we absolutely were not meant for each other.
Luckily, the last week of July has been very uneventful in the time since he and I broke up. However, between my penchant for nostalgia and the fact that Timehop has been peppering me with reminders about my romantic history all freakin’ week, I’ve been thinking about relationships and breakups a lot these last few days. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the things that my breakup taught me.
Breakups are awful, to be sure. But there’s a lot of life lessons that can be gleaned from them, and my breakup was no exception. All these months and years later, I’m so glad I learned them. Sure, it sucked that they were borne out of a heartbreaking situation. However, I’m still glad that my breakup taught me so many valuable things.
I am not an afterthought.
I spent years fighting for his attention, and honestly, I was never really sure I ever fully had it. In so many ways, my time with him felt like a never ending competition with his friends/family/work/classmates/other interests/insert noun here. Obviously I don’t expect to spend every waking moment with someone. Hell, I don’t want to spend every waking moment with someone. But I shouldn’t be wondering if my boyfriend will even remember my birthday, or if he’s planning on being around to celebrate it with me.
People change. So do relationships.
He and I were very close friends before we started dating, and in the early days of our relationship, we were completely and totally in sync with each other. It was wonderful, truly. However, as time passed, we began to change the way people inevitably do when time goes by. Change is fine; it doesn’t have to detrimentally affect a relationship. But it can if the people in the relationship begin to change without looping in the other. That’s what started happening to us when we began our year of long distance. By the time he came back from his year abroad, we had become totally different individuals, but expected things to be exactly as they were a year ago between the two of us. Well, that’s not how life works.
Relationships aren’t easy. That doesn’t mean they’re impossible.
I spent so many nights of our relationship crying. So, so many. Those nights, I asked myself, “But it’s not meant to be easy, right?” Eventually, that question turned into, “It shouldn’t be this hard.” Because sure, relationships are no cakewalk. But they’re not impossible. I wish I had known back then that crying every night and feeling awful about myself and harboring resentment towards him were all huge, gigantic signs that the relationship wasn’t working. Hanging in there for hanging in there’s sake does no one any good.
No one is worth losing my sense of self.
I was so wrapped up in our life and his life that I totally lost sight of my own. I forgot who I was without him, and I eventually got to the point where I was afraid of who I would be if he weren’t in my life. Just… don’t ever let it get to that point. No one is worth forgetting who you are. No one. Because when he inevitably leaves, as he did, all that’s left is an empty shell of a person and memories of who you once were, the vague glimpses of who you could be again.
Memory is tricky.
There were days I’d think about the good times and marvel as to how I landed such a catch. Then there were days I’d dwell on the bad times and would find myself furious that I was with this sorry excuse for a boyfriend. In my darkest post-breakup days, it was important for me to remember that there were good times, too. It can be hard to remember that in the aftermath of breaking up and figuring out life as a newly single person, but ultimately, I managed to separate the good from the bad and reminisce about them separately.
Anyone can start over.
Things had been wrong for quite some time, but we stayed together despite that. Chalk it up to a fear of being alone, or the desire to remain comfortably miserable. Maybe it was that we couldn’t begin to guess what the future could hold for us apart and we knew where we stood if we stayed together, even if that meant feeling wretched. When we did split up, it was like my world fell out from underneath me and I had no idea how I was supposed to just keep on living my life. But do that I did, because guess what? Anyone can start over. New beginnings can be amazing.
Don’t give all the love away.
I loved him so much that I had no love left for myself. And that, to be quite honest, is where the root of the majority of our problems took hold. Always love yourself, guys. Always. No one is worth every ounce of love you can muster, because we all need to love ourselves, too.