When I broke up with my on-and-off-again boyfriend of 6 years, I had to cut all ties because there was too much history to just be friends. He’d wanted me to himself, but he couldn’t commit. He was always pulling me back in, but he had no plan or direction for our relationship. I had to let him go. I know I made the best choice for me, but it was still difficult.
I felt weird admitting I was scared to end things. As beautifully complex as our relationship was, it hadn’t been all bad, and I’d put so much effort in. I was such a great girlfriend, and breaking up made me feel like all that hard work would go down the drain. The fear of starting over kept me in a relationship I should have left long ago. So, once I finally did leave, I struggled to answer the question: How do you start over?
I didn’t see many articles or books about it. Whether you’ve spent significant time and energy on a relationship or a short-lived situationship left you empty, you’ve still experienced loss, but no one seems to talk about it that way. Truth be told, moving on from someone you were intimate with is not easy. It’s something we try to press through, get over, or “sweep under the rug”, but healing takes time.
It could take months of venting, crying, talking, lying in bed, eating ice cream, drinking wine, stalking their social media accounts, replaying that last conversation—all to forget or justify why things did not work out. Songs, places, and the most benign things people do could trigger a memory. Then, our thoughts run wild:
Was I not pretty enough?
Did I have too much baggage?
Have we really grown apart?
Maybe, I shouldn’t have said this or done that.
I miss them, but they are not good for me.
I still love them, but we are better off apart.
I am lonely without them, but I can’t say that because people will think I am ridiculous…
Is it really over? Are we really done?
We have done this before—maybe we will get back together?
…No. It’s really over.
These questions were especially hard for me when I had sacrificed who I was to be the person my then-boyfriend wanted me to be. (If the person pursuing you is competing with you, let them go. A confident person will not compete with their partner.) See, oftentimes I felt like guys weren’t very attracted to a driven, focused, and confident woman; they were intimidated. This caused me to shrink back and trade my confidence for fear and insecurity. But once it was over and they were gone, I was left with fears and insecurities I didn’t even have before. Then what?
I have learned the best way for me to heal from a relationship is to address the hurt and baggage, to ask myself the hard questions about who I chose to date and why, and to make a plan to move forward. I had to choose to face my insecurities. It’s a simple choice but a painful one. As uncomfortable as it was, I asked myself: Why did I keep dating the same type of person? Why did I settle? What hole did I need someone to fill so badly that I ignored the signs telling me to stop, turn around, don’t go any further? Did I think I was not worthy of love and belonging?
Our intuition helps us through life. We know if we should be with a person or not, and when we ignore that feeling and stay with the person, it usually ends eventually anyway. So, how do we move on?
We move on when we refuse to stay stuck. When we refuse to allow pain to consume our hearts and minds. If you feel you cannot fight, call a friend who will hold your arms up and fight with you. Find someone who will pray with you and seek God on your behalf. Enlist a sister who refuses to watch you sink and who believes the best about you. Encourage yourself until that sense of loss and hopelessness is gone. Keep loving you and keep healing.
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