(Takes deep breath. Puts big girl panties on. Gaaaawd, I hate the word "panties", lol. Like, whyyyy?)
OK computer. Let's do this. Let's rip the proverbial band-aid off quickly and swiftly. I'm going to try to spare us all the dramatics because I generally don't care to engage in "emotional talk" about myself. However, since Adele decided to drop yet another bomb video/single during this year's Billboard Music Awards, I felt compelled to tread lightly into my own feelings. I'm also writing this with the hope that I'm not alone in the shit-show of emotions that I'm about to unearth. So, without any further ado: the overshare. (These won't be happening often.)
Some time ago, I had my heart broken. To say it devastated me would be a gross understatement. I can only describe it as this: having the same spot on your heart gently tapped upon with an ice pick and then one day, having that small crack in your heart shatter into several jagged little pieces on the floor- too sharp to pick up and put back together. I think you get the general picture, right? Describing it in that way now seems a bit whimsical and like I'm trying to be flippant about how it affected me; but truthfully, at this stage in my life I'd rather use that visual metaphor than to say that I was an irreparable mess of a person. What's that technical term again? Oh. Right: "FUBAR".... If you really want to put a label on it - then that's how I felt. Fucked. Up. Beyond. All. Repair (FUBAR).
And, there was no real rhyme or reason to my feelings during that time... just disjointed cycles of overwhelming emotion followed by calm. You know how there are supposedly five stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining & Acceptance)? Well... my process of grieving the end of a relationship went something more like:
DENIAL > DENIAL PT 2 > ANGER > INTRO TO BARGAINING > DENIAL THE REMIX > DENIAL > BARGAINING PT 2 > ANGER > DEPRESSION > DEPRESSION X > BARGAINING PT 3 > DENIAL > WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK? > DEPRESSION > ACCEPTANCE.
On random days, without prompt or provocation, my heart just went to...
But ummm, yeah... for the longest time, my best friend was good old' fashioned denial.
During that stretch of time, I was unknowingly harming myself by placing "I'm fine" and "It's fine" band-aids on wounds that required far more attention than I realized (or was willing to admit). If I felt hurt by something, I'd feel the hurt for a quick moment, and then proudly file it away as "Dealt With" even though I'd never fully confront the issue head on with my then significant other (S/O). I would bury tears and swallow pride time and again, all for the sake of holding on to the relationship and to the notion that my then S/O was worth it. I convinced myself that "staying committed" was far more noble than "giving up" on the person I loved just because they weren't giving me the love I needed. I mean... how selfish would that make me, anyway? Expecting to be loved just because I gave love? What kind of shit is that...? Anyway, more than anything, I didn't want the effort I'd already put into the relationship to be for nothing OR for the next girl's benefit. I felt entitled to some sort of happy ending. I couldn't see "failing at love" as an option for me because, as narcissistic as it sounds... love was just one of those things I always thought I kicked ass at. Lol. There were legit times where smack dab in the middle of an ugly cry, I'd have internal debates with myself, like:
"I just don't get it... I'm cute. I'm cool. I'm smart. I'm hot. I'm forgiving... and I'm romantic as all fuck. Soooo... why isn't he loving me? Why is he not trying? Ok... well maybe I'm not all I thought I was after all... Maybe I'm not that cute. I'm probably not that cool compared to him...Yeah, I guess I'm not good enough. Maybe if I... "
That's right. As dope as I was... instead of finding fault in the relationship or even in my then S/O, I found fault within myself. And of course, those were the moments where the "bargaining" stage of grief would really kick into high gear, and I'd try to compromise and "edit myself" according to what I thought he needed or didn't need from me. I tried to politely carve out a space in his heart for myself, when unbeknownst to me, there was simply no vacancy there. As much as he would say the right things on the surface, his actions never seemed to match his words. It wasn't until years later that I realized that maybe he wasn't yet in a place where he knew how to give love in a way that would resonate with me. It didn't cross my mind that our ideas and standards of love weren't syncing up and might never be one in the same. Maybe from his perspective, he was giving all he knew how to give at the time, and I just didn't want to see it because I was busy being in love with the person I thought he could be. So, like a doe-eyed lost lamb, I just continued to operate under the assumption that I could love enough for the both of us, you know... just until he realized I was dope AF and that he shouldn't want to do without me. Easy enough, right?
WRONG. As you probably guessed - it never worked out for us. No Cinderella story here, folks. Eventually, I had no choice but to accept that I wasn't his "THE ONE" and he wasn't mine. He met someone new, started a family and moved on with life, and although my immediate outcome wasn't quite the same, I came out of it with a much better understanding of myself. Having to accept and deal with the reality that he had moved on was jarring and upsetting at first. On most days, I didn't know how to feel; like I was just trying to navigate my way out of hazy maze of emotions. I wondered why after all my time & effort, someone else was being rewarded with the life I wanted. I went through resentment and all the fun emotions that ensue. Real talk, when I would think about his new-found ability to be in a serious relationship, I'd be low-key insulted and infuriated, like:
However, after sitting with myself and letting the truth and the weight of our past sink in, it became evident that our lives progressed exactly as they were supposed to. I finally started to see things as they were, and that all the previous advice my friends and family had given me about the situation was valid. Only after forcing myself to really feel the full weight of my past pain was I able to get to the acceptance stage and into my "grown woman mindset". I came to realize that even though it wasn't with me, my S/O became a man who is (hopefully) now capable of committing to someone and being a good dad. And even though it wasn't with him, I became a more confident and secure version of myself. Because our past experience, I learned that editing myself to get someone else's love is something of which I am no longer capable; even when the alternative is to not be in a relationship at all. I learned that I really dig my own company and that a certain amount of solitude is not only OK, but essential for me in order to be happy. The irony? The whole time we were together, I loathed the fact that he seemed to need/like space. Once I got my mind right, I realized in retrospect, that I was the one who should've benefited the most from the space he created. I should've used that time more wisely, to get in tune with myself and my own needs. But hindsight is 20/20. I've also learned that there is a very delicate balance between seeing people as they are, seeing their potential, and seeing how their past experiences may have shaped them.
When I reflect on my then-S/O in those ways, I'm no longer angry or saddened. I know on some small level, that there was once love there and can appreciate that our presence in each other's lives wasn't for nothing. The happy ending just wasn't meant for us as a couple. Instead, we each got the gifts we needed out of the situation.
And with that said, I'd like to give a slow hand-clap to Adele for her uptempo new single "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)". At first, I thought it was based in pettiness (which would have been fine with me, lol); but going through the lyrics, I see she's just on her grown woman shit. And, I'm glad that I'm in a space where I can relate;)