A year ago today I walked away from a 10+ year relationship.
I thought I’d be in this relationship for the rest of my life. I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not I wanted to share such personal details about my life. But then again, the reason I started this very blog was personal. I needed an outlet. I needed to find some sort of getaway from what was going on in my life during the demise of my decade long relationship. The decision to finally leave was anything but easy. My boxes were packed, hell, I even packed my toiletries just to ensure that I was leaving. I struggled so damn hard. My mind kept racing back to the memories of good times, the memories of our happy days. Thoughts of when we’d laugh so hard that tears came streaming out of my eyes as if someone had just given me the worst news. Yeah, she always knew how to make me laugh. I think what was the hardest was coming to terms with the fact that the relationship had ended but I was still clinging to the memories. Thinking I could fix things and then everything will just go back to normal, at least, what I thought normal was. I’m a huge creature of habit and the thought of losing something that was so familiar and comfortable; completely terrified me. It’s funny though, the heart and the brain. In life you consciously know in your brain what is good/bad for you but the heart keeps you tied to what feels good.
Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows.
In the months leading up to what I call the end, summer 2015, I started losing myself. I loved to cook and bake so I started this food blog in early 2016 and it was a good distraction from the toxicity in my life at the time. Everyday was up in the air and I didn’t know if it was going to be a good day or a bad day. Would we argue or would we not? Despite the personality change, the frequent phone conversations, the random trips she’d take- I still thought I could fix us. I literally could not control my environment anymore. I started doing unhealthy things to try and cope with it all and to keep my mind off of everything. I was a complete and utter mess. I would cry almost every single day and if you know me, I’m not one to cry often. It wasn’t until I found out what I subconsciously knew all along that I was finally ready to let go. I found out my ex had cheated on me. I still remember that night like it was yesterday. I balled my eyes out and replayed the events over and over. I was sick to my stomach. I couldn’t eat or sleep and I was the very definition of a hot mess. Hindsight is 20/20 and I started putting the pieces together. The signs were there but I allowed my heart to dismiss the most alarming things. During this time, I still needed to go to work and be a functioning adult. I remember I would have to go into the bathroom several times while at work because I felt sick. How I made it through every single day back then I will never know. Even though the decision was hard, it was almost as if my mind was in fight or flight mode and I instantly knew what needed to be done.
Pain makes you stronger. Fear makes you braver. Heartbreak makes you wiser.
Heartbreak was always something I’ve seen in movies and never believed existed until I faced it for myself. There is a literal pain you feel inside when you truly experience heartbreak. I describe it as a gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of your stomach and heart that seems to never end. It is probably up there in terms of pain for me at least. I mean, I was in a bad car accident many years ago and the pain I experienced from that was not even close to touching this kind of pain. I was losing a wildly significant relationship that had been fostered from when I was 17. All I knew was her. She knew me. She got my jokes. I shared so many private things with her. We shared over 10 years together. That’s a lot of damn memories. How the hell do I move on now? All of these thoughts hit me like bullets. At the time, I didn’t see life after this relationship as crazy as that sounds. But at the same time, I knew it needed to end. I knew that in order for me to be the very best version of myself that I needed to leave and not look back. I officially left the apartment we shared on August 10, 2016. I got the call from Two Men and a Truck that they were minutes away and I felt every kind of emotion that there was to feel. Everything ached, I felt nauseous, I even thought of turning back, but I kept giving myself this pep talk. It’s now been a full year since then and I’ve come such a long way. Life after heartbreak is not easy and I felt that it would be therapeutic for me to share my feelings and look back on my life since then.
There are plenty of ways to die, but only love can kill and keep you alive to feel it- Leo Christopher.
I’ve categorized the highs/lows of what I’ve experienced since then:
- Understand the loss: For me, this is critical. I firmly believe that if one does not take time to fully comprehend why the relationship ended, they’re doing themselves a huge injustice. This took time and still does actually. I look back and can see certain things so clearly. At the time, I thought the relationship ended because of the cheating but really the relationship was over before that. The cheating only gave me a kick in the ass to finally leave. I know exactly why things ended on my end and I am at peace with it. This doesn’t mean that I’m not still hurt but that I am able to understand why things didn’t work out. I have seen so many people get out of one relationship and quickly enter the next and I’ll never understand it. Like how did you breathe after leaving your last relationship? It would have been easy for me to numb the heartbreak by getting with someone else but would I have healed? More than likely, no. The time I’ve spent with myself, my feelings, and my thoughts were super important for the growth and healing process.
- Allow yourself to lose control: Oooooohhh friends, this is a big one. I am generally a person who maintains self-control with my emotions, meaning I don’t feel comfortable showing anyone and everyone emotional Quin (yes, I often talk in third-person). Since leaving that relationship, I have never randomly cried so much in my life. The slightest things could trigger certain memories and feelings of anger, hurt, resentment, would come flooding back to me. I allowed myself the space to feel what I was feeling. Even if that meant to take a second to go into the bathroom and breakdown and cry- I learned that that was ok. I use to get angry at myself for crying because I felt defeated and weak. I was hard on myself and felt like I should always have it together. When in turn, it felt good and still does, to let it out because for so long I kept everything bottled up inside.
- Take time for yourself: For most of my adult life I was in a relationship with my ex who also had a child. To say that my life was not truly my own would be an understatement. Granted, I chose to be in that relationship and also chose to take on certain responsibilities. However, I never really understood the meaning of taking time for yourself until I left. Suddenly, I was on my own and I could do whatever I wanted without having to have regard for anyone. I could choose to make a fancy four course meal or eat off the McDonald’s dollar menu. Writing this is crazy but the feeling of being free was scary. I was always so use to caring for someone. By nature I am a huge caretaker and I love taking care of those around me. I was used to running everything by my partner, cooking, cleaning, all the usual tasks that come with being in a relationship. When I left I was like ok, well, what the hell do I do now? I started trying to figure things out, like, what the hell I wanted in life. Where was I going next? Who is Quin? I took self-care days where I would go get a pedicure, take myself to a fancy restaurant, sit in a corner of Barnes and Noble and read a book. I just started to live and find myself. I think sometimes we forget about our own selves when we get into relationships and get absorbed by the monotony of it all. I neglected myself in that relationship and it felt good to regain that self-love.
- Quit the blame-game: When I first found out that my ex cheated, I blamed myself. My self-esteem was lower than the floor. I thought it was all my fault. I wasn’t good enough. Skinny enough. Good-looking enough. Did I not make enough money? Yeah, I thought it all and more. And then I realized that it wasn’t me at all. When the person you love does something so painful and heartbreaking to you, I can’t even describe the pain in that. Even as I type this it still brings tears to my eyes a whole year later. That feeling. It’s so incredibly hard to shake. It took time for me to realize that I wasn’t to blame. I was more than good enough, but just not for that person. And that’s ok. Sometimes in life, we try so hard to be someone’s everything. We try to be everything that we think they want us to be. In reality, who you are is exactly who you’re supposed to be. I had to stop trying to please someone else so much and just let myself be who I am. I did a lot of damage to my spirit during this blame-game process and it took time for me to realize how great I am. There is only one me, and hell, I think I’m pretty awesome!
- Invest in quality relationships: As an introvert I don’t have an abundance of friends. When I moved and started my new life sans relationship, it was hard for me to open up to other people. It’s hard to talk about something awful that just happened to you with other people. I feared the judgment, their pitiful eyes, and the God forsaken, “I told you so’s.” I wanted to crawl into a ball and live in one of those gopher holes underground somewhere and never see the light of day. When I got somewhat settled after moving, I met some new friends and slowly started to open up. I have one friend in particular who I firmly believe God sent. You know who you are if you’re reading. Her friendship and support has helped push me through some dark days. Now when I say invest in quality relationships, I can’t emphasize the word quality enough. Don’t invest your time into people who only wish to be there when you have drama going on in your life. Invest in people who help push you, motivate you, those who listen to your crazy ideas. Those who listen emphatically about your goals. And most importantly, those that see the good in you at times when you don’t see it. Unfortunately, I’ve had people in my life who I’ve had to sever communication with because the quality wasn’t there. Choose to let positive energies and vibes into your life and shut the door on those negative people. Sorry, please miss me with the negative energy.
- There is a light at the end of the tunnel: I think I’ve written enough so I’ll end it here lol. As corny as this one sounds, it’s true. I couldn’t stand when people, especially my Mom, would tell me that. I always felt like it’s one of those things you just say to someone when something devastating happened to them. Like, yeah, ok whatever the hell that means. But it is so true. Earlier I said that when this relationship ended and I moved, I felt like I was lost. Because of that longevity, I didn’t know where my life was going next. It felt like learning to go on in life with one of my arms missing. Within a month of moving, I found an awesome job and started going hard with this little blog of mine. I started to find happiness. I met new people. I’ve found new hobbies/interests. I’ve got a travel book and I’m actually checking places off that shit (he he). My friend’s are trying to get me out into the dating world again but I’m honestly good. I’m content right now and I’m loving life. People ask me all the time if I still believe in love. If you would have asked me a year ago, I would’ve told you to get out of my face with that love nonsense, ha! But the beauty is in healing. Although I don’t feel anywhere near ready to date again, I could see myself getting there and giving this love crap a go again. I want to continue growing and learning and loving and just being. Making myself present and enjoying this one life I have. I am a firm believer in certain things happening for a reason. As each day passes, the anger, hurt, and resentment slowly subsides. Time really does heal all wounds. I look back and I can appreciate my ex and all that we once shared because I know that someday everything will come full circle. You’ll never catch me saying anything negative about her (at least in public anyways, ha!) because I think that is tacky and just down-right mean. Did she hurt me by doing something awful, yes. But that doesn’t make her a bad person. We just weren’t right for each other and it took a while for me to realize that. We don’t always understand things that play out in life and sometimes those things even seem unfair. I’ve often thought why. Why did this have to happen to me? Why do I have to start over in life? This is my story, I guess. This is when one chapter ends and another begins. So here I am today. A perfectly imperfect person trying to navigate through life after this. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and… after heartbreak.