I began my new year by ending a relationship.
It wasn’t an easy decision, but no one ever said the right things are easy ones (and, in fact, most everyone says the right ones are the hardest). I was in love, but – insert yet another trite cultural trope – love by itself isn’t ever enough, especially when a sprinkling of other things (no matter how small) just don’t fall into place. And the truth of the matter is that the circumstances I placed myself in (the hard facts: falling in love with a married man isn’t a good idea, no matter what idealistic narrative surrounds the situation) weren’t healthy for me, even if I wanted to believe that they could be.
Even so, I sit at home on a Sunday, sad and lonely and feeling as though I’ve lost my best friend (which, in all honesty, I have) and wondering why I keep putting myself into these situations. In even more honesty: from the beginning, I knew I put myself into the relationship because it was with a married man, because it could never go further than a certain point, because then I could never get hurt the way I was hurt with Jack. And in the end I discovered that what I really wanted was, in fact, to go past that certain point after all, to grow beyond the past and what I’d lost and learn how to be with someone new again. Except I’d chosen to fall in love with someone who couldn’t give me any of those things. Or maybe he could, but he couldn’t tell me when. Or even give me an idea as to when he could tell me when, only that he might be able to give them to me at some point in the future. Maybe.
The irony of being so hurt by a situation I placed myself into in order to avoid being hurt isn’t lost on me. I’ve done this to myself, and it’s a particular form of self-flagellation with which I’m not terribly familiar, which makes it even worse. If it were something I’d experienced before, I’d know how to weather this particular storm. But I’d always been careful not to take on the role of “The Other Woman” (mostly because of how I’d seen it affect my mother during her 30s, and I swore I’d never repeat her mistakes). Until the past year, I suppose. Funny how we always end up falling into the traps we promised we’d never succumb to – and not only that, we tend to set them ourselves without even knowing. Or at least I do.
So I began the new year by ending a relationship. It felt good at the time, as though I were doing something important and special for myself and my self-esteem and my ability to enter into healthy adult relationships. But 96+ hours later, I feel just miserable. And, as is always the case when I feel this way, the grieving process begins again (if only Jack were still alive…) and I rethink my choices (perhaps it was a mistake…) and I think I’ll be alone forever (I am 40 now, after all…) and I have trouble even getting out of bed. Yes, I’m sad. And it’s normal to be sad after you make hard choices and suffer a loss. It’s normal to be sad after ending a relationship. But it’s also that I feel a little unmoored, a little like a sailboat who’s come untied from the dock or the pier (or whatever; I always get them confused, which is which) and is floating about, wondering what to do. I’m confident that this is temporary (and, again, completely normal) and that, sooner or later, the heaviness of it all will ease up and I will feel less as though I’ve made a terrible mistake and more as though I’ve just created a few more cracks to let some more light in.
Today is just one day, just as last Wednesday was just another day, and by next year at this time I’ll probably be emotionally wobbly over some entirely different circumstances (two years ago today, it was over having been laid off from my job at the magazine). Just bear with me here, as I wobble through the new year, a little sad and a little lost, feeling my way through a bit of darkness as I figure out what to do next with my heart and my life. It can be a bit confusing, this slice of time we get to spend on Earth, and I know I can’t be the only one who manages to muck it up from time to time. The Boyfriend might be a thing of the past (year), but I’m still here. No matter how lost I feel – and today, it is very much so – I have no other choice but to keep moving forward. And with that, I shall keep doing just so.