This post is a part of my 10-day #Countdownto30 series. The series recaps important milestones from every year of my 20s. You can view all posts in this series at http://shellysaysso.com/tag/countdownto30/
At 23 I got my heart broken. Not broken in the sense that I was done wrong. All things considered, I had been done pretty rightly. But a couple that works at 18 or 19 doesn’t always work at 23. We had grown up to recognize that we were growing in different directions. He was a better man and I was a better woman, but the more we became our bigger and better selves, the further we seemed to be from each other. The version of happy that I was aspiring to did not match his. Imagine your lover sharing his dreams and your stomach turns. It was beyond compromise. One of us was always going to be terribly unhappy. Yet both of us were willing to endure it because we loved each other. It was a tragedy.
I knew the dynamic of our relationship had changed dramatically, but he was still my best friend. The very best friend I had ever had. We had grown up together. Shared all our secrets. We were comfortable & safe with each other. I trusted him with my life and I knew that he was a good person to his core. How can you not want to be with a person that is simply good and kind? I knew something was missing but I also knew what I had. I had a mate who was faithful and dutiful and romantic and loving. Who wanted a simple life where everyone would be home by 6pm for dinner. And here I was was being overly ambitious and making him nervous as he watched me go after the next degree, the next promotion, the next award, the next business venture. “Will you ever be done?”, he asked. The life I wanted was not simple. He didn’t understand why I was never satisfied and I didn’t understand how a person could just be satisfied where they were. I wanted to keep climbing and he wanted to pitch his tent where we were.
I didn’t have the guts to end it no matter how dysfunctional we became. If he hadn’t, I probably never would have. I would have just suffered in silence in the name of sacrifice and of love. I would have gone on trying to be the woman that he needed even though I wasn’t meant to be her. I would have worn the ring he had me pick out. And I would have been chronically dissatisfied. He was the one who got up the nerve to end it. He told me he couldn’t keep loving me more than he loved himself, and that deep down he knew he was holding me back.
And then the closet I had cleared out for him the year before was empty again. The grieving process was long. Tears were many. There was no reason to cook. It didn’t seem worth the effort to do anything for just one. Conversations of “what if we tried this or that” were long and painful and dramatic. We cried together. We cried separately. It was awful. I rarely spoke on it because every time I said his name I felt like my heart was falling on the floor. I delayed telling my family because I knew they would be heartbroken too. And I just couldn’t bear having to feel their disappointment on top of my own. Talking about it was like re-living it and I did not want that. My brain and my heart were in disagreement on what we should do. I felt sick for months. My bed was cold. I was terrified I would run into him on a date with another woman and just drop dead of the trauma. I wrote for the first time in years. I cried just because the trash was sitting there with no one else to take it out. It was the worst year I ever had. The absolute worst year I ever had. But it was very necessary.
My entire adulthood I had been in this couple. For almost 5 years it had been “us” and “we”. I didn’t know what it meant to just be me, by myself, as a grown-up. The last time I was single I was a teenager. What did I like to do on the weekends? Where do I want to eat? What do single people even do on the weekends? What is it like to give your phone number to a handsome stranger? Do people do that? Who am I supposed to take to the company Christmas party? Are people allowed to go alone? I literally had no idea how to live without a built-in +1. It all seemed very stressful. I had only slept with two men in my entire life, and here I was with dudes in the club trying to take me home within minutes of meeting me. I was horrified!
The entire year was just gray. I didn’t think I would ever get over it. I spent most of my time in the house alone getting to know what kind of woman I actually was. Every day I had to train myself to stop thinking “we” and start thinking “I”. I realized that I had never had a chance to figure out who I was. And I really needed to just be alone to see how I actually acted. What’s my personality, naturally? Am I shy or outgoing? What do I do for fun? Am I funny? Am I a bitch? Do I like to go out or am I a homebody? What have my friends been up to?
When I was finally able to drag myself off the floor, I looked at the woman and the mirror. The last time I had really looked at her she was just a girl. Now, she was a woman. I said “Nice to meet you”. She smiled. And we became friends.
#2007 #countdownto30 #whenIwas23