I grew up in an environment where people broke upon horribly violent endings, where things; relationships, jobs, events, would be prolonged until everyone involved was good and sick of each other and the places they were tied to. My family was full of resentment for people and places that had been a part of ending badly, and I grew up thinking this was the norm.
As an adult, I walked in anger and breathed destruction. You wouldn't know it now, but I was quite fearsome, and I never hesitated to bring someone down if it seemed justified. I could quite easily rise to any occasion to fight or confront any type of (mis) perceived injustice, and had no problem telling off any person, large or small, if properly provoked. Being properly provoked often did not take much effort.
I left jobs and relationships in approximately the same way, with a big "F you" as I was rushing out the door, possessions in hand. One place I quit actually had me walked off the premises. Though frankly, I am still quite proud of that achievement.
This strategy, I can soundly and justly say, is why I have been so brokenhearted with this last break up. I broke up before I had been smashed to dust. I left him before I could utterly stamp out the flame he carried for me. We are both profoundly hurt at the loss of this relationship, but we still love each other. We still respect each other. I have never had that in any other break up. I think back on all my boyfriends, and I have had many, and I can only think of one, maybe two that I could stomach seeing again, maybe even getting a beer with.
So while I am profoundly sad over the loss of this love of my life, I am also proud of myself for not staying until everything and everyone was burned to ashes. Just yesterday, in fact, I cried for a good hour or two over the loss of the relationship (Sundays are especially hard), but even in my sorrow, I felt quite lucky that I am so sad because I still love him. I want the best for him. I want him to be happy, no matter what that might entail.
I am so proud that I have found outside myself what I have, over years and with great effort, cultivated within; love, peace, integrity. I know that I am different with those outside of myself because I am different within myself. With this realization comes great relief, because for so many years I made my life much harder than it had to be. I sometimes made other people's lives quite challenging as well.
My dad once told me that if you protect yourself from great pain, you also end up protecting yourself from great love, because a fence is a fence, and it keeps out everything, good or bad. He warned me of building such protections because of the joy I would miss out on by protecting myself from the sadness.
Even though I am in great pain right now, I don't regret it, In fact I celebrate it, because it means I have found a way to let life in. It means that I will have more of everything in my life, good and bad, to experience. It means that with all I have experienced in my life, I have still found a way to love. Because this love that I seek is also within me.