I twisted myself in knots. I worked hard and long. I cried. I did everything I could, but eventually, I had to end it.
These sentences, strung together, describe the end of almost every romantic relationship I have had, and a few friendships as well. In each one of them, I would explode out of the rigid relationship container I had squeezed myself into. I was cramping. I was resenting. I was holding myself back from my bigger life.
Those containers always seemed so roomy at first... but then I would grow, change, or realize that there were just tons of mirrors everywhere, making the container I was in seem much larger than it actually was.
My first break up was twenty five years ago. I was desperately in love with a man who lied and cheated on me. I knew he would not change, and I could not respect myself in that relationship, and that, ultimately was how I knew it was time to leave. It took ten years for me to get over that break-up. Ten years to get over a man who lied and cheated.
That is the thing to remember when you are breaking up; the shit does not have to make sense. You might be in love with a person who controls you, who doesn't support you, a person who abuses you; yet still, that pain you feel when you let go, that shit is tough. Tough because you have grown with that person. You have changed with that person. You have opened yourself up and shared a part of your life with that person, and that is a big thing. But it is not everything. It is not everything.
Bad break ups are damaging. They ruin any memory of what was and turn any sweetness that existed, acrid. But no matter what it has come to, your relationship started with hope. Your relationship started with love.
We exist in a world where things begin and end; meals, work, classes, days, seasons, games, life. Yet for some reason we have been taught that relationships are only successful if they last forever and you are a failure if yours does not last.
But I see it in another way. I believe the best relationships end when it is time. They end when they are no longer of use to the people in them. They end when they no longer serve. I have rarely seen this; the relationship that has ended in a timely manner. Because it is so hard to let go. It is so hard to say good-bye. It is hard to face the rest of your life knowing that it will never be the same.
That is why you stay until the pain of staying is greater than the pain of leaving. Until you have finally had enough. Until you are just about out of patience. Because no one ever taught you that it is okay to leave. No one ever told you that it is okay to save yourself from a relationship that has gone bad. No one ever told you that getting to the point of pain, of profound sadness is a sign that you have waited too long.
But it is okay. It is okay to leave. It is okay to have an ending. Endings are wonderful things because they are natural. The death of a relationship is the clearing away of space for something new, something more suited to who you are becoming, something that will give you room to stretch your legs and breathe in the air.
So don't wait. This is a conversation that you should have sooner rather than later. This could take days or weeks depending on the length and depth of the relationship, but it is worth it. It is worth it to leave a relationship in a way that is respectful, loving, and compassionate. It is worth it because the person you are leaving is a person you have loved. Ending a relationship well is a tribute. It is an Ode. It is a way of expressing your love for that person that can save the memory of all the good stuff you had.
Most of all, it is for you. It comes down to what you are willing to sacrifice to be in a relationship with another person. If you are sacrificing you, it is too much. Your break-up is a way to tell yourself that you are worthy of more. That you deserve a better match. You deserve a chance at happiness.
You do, don't you?
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