A version of this essay was published by Elephant Journal on July 19, 2020 with the title, 2 Things to Help you Through a Breakup with “The One.” at https://bit.ly/30ykiFY.
I’m really bad in relationships and I’m even worse out of them. When I am in one, I’m generally thinking of everything that is wrong with us (see: Him), and when I am out of one, I’m generally thinking of everything that was right with us (see: Him).
Cut to Act Two where I find myself today: a week since break-up and certain that I have made a terrible mistake. I am certain that I am a coward, a child and an idiot for throwing what I had with this man away. Mostly I’m panicking because I am afraid of having made the wrong decision — that I can’t possibly be fit to make decisions for myself that affect other people given my complete immaturity and self-involvement. Someone ELSE must know how to do this, some ADULT out there must know what the right thing to do is right now, because surely I can’t possibly know what’s best for me given the fact that I am a child who is just really good at acting like an adult. Just look at my apartment for God’s sakes, there are unicorns on the walls.
This of course has been a running theme in my life — trusting other people’s decision-making skills over my own. I have stayed in jobs, relationships and apartments that were wrong for me all because the other person involved (see: boss, partner landlord) would have been GREATLY inconvenienced if I left and who am I to make such a weighted decision? Better to just stay put and be miserable and have no idea why I can’t make a perfectly acceptable situation work for me (see: because it’s wrong for me.).
With this most recent relationship ending, I went into a tailspin of panic certain that the world was going to end because I had made a horribly selfish mistake and was most certainly going to hell for negatively affecting another person with my immaturity. I wasn’t panicking because I was sad, I was panicking because I doubted myself so fiercely. When I realized that the only other option I could see was staying in the relationship I realized I had to accept the bed I’d made.
Two things helped me do this. The first was realizing that if this was a mistake, well people make mistakes all the time and the world does not end. Remember when Target tried coming to Canada? Or Gigli? The world kept spinning for both Ben and J. Lo after that travesty. I realized I could live with the consequences of my actions even if I had made a mistake. I was so caught up in whether or not I had made the wrong decision that I was missing the forest for the trees which was: I made a decision that felt right for me in the moment given the circumstances at hand and the experiences in my history I had to draw from. Right and Wrong are impossible to know until the dust settles, I told myself, and certainly impossible when you’re in the midst of hysterics. But trusting that I was mature enough to make a mistake and accept the consequences eased the fear of the unknown in me.
The second thing that got me through was instead of second guessing myself every second of every hour post break up, I was going to try trusting myself. To do that, something I’ve never done before, I had to change the script in my head. For the first time in my life I decided to try using affirmations. For an entire afternoon I walked barefoot around the perimeter of a park alternating between thinking, “I trust myself” and, “I trust the process of life and love.” I chose these two phrases not because they are true but because I want them to be true and because I am ready for them to be true. Right or wrong, still in love with him or not, I have to let this go now. I have to get to the next stage of my life now. Not because I necessarily want to but because it’s time to. Because I don’t think there are any more lessons to learn with this person anymore.
I trust myself. I trust in the process of life and love.
And somehow, it took. These phrases said over and over again and my willingness to accept the freedom to make mistakes, got me out of the panic stage of my experience and allowed me to just accept and be sad which is what I knew I needed to be if I was ever going to move on. I don’t know if I am ready to let go of him (see: Us.), but I do know it’s unfair to hold onto him when I’m this uncertain. In an odd way, my uncertainty is what’s allowing me to be certain. I can trust in that even if I’m not quite sure yet what it means. I trust myself. I trust in the process of life and love. I trust myself.