Five Life Lessons I Learned From The Demise of My Last Relationship

Five Life Lessons I Learned From The Demise of My Last Relationship
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I strongly believe that every relationship we have, be it platonic or romantic, serves a specific and significant purpose to our journey for growth and maturity. Every relationship teaches a lesson, or at least it is suppose to. Relationships aren’t just about having a good time with someone you really like. Some relationships were never meant to be harmonious. They were meant to teach you something particularly something about yourself.

My last “serious” relationship just so happened to also be my longest to date. As most already know, I was married for 7 years (10 legally) to a man that I loved dearly but could not co-habitat with. I could say (and probably will at some point in the future) say a lot of things about “why” I made the decision to walk out but at the end of the day, it all boiled down to us being two different people with two ideas of what marriage/family meant and I could no longer pretend to be on board with the current plan. I like to believe that part of what helped me come to terms with the idea that perhaps we simply were not “good” for one another was the amount of growth I achieved during my time as a “Mrs.” and the multitude of lessons I learned during my tenure.

I could go on a 3 day long rant about all of the things my ex did wrong that attributed to the demise of our marriage but to do so without acknowledging my own participation would be intellectually dishonest and probably wouldn’t serve this article any good so I digress, for now.

I don’t regret my marriage at all, although at times I can be found in the corner mumbling my “should, coulda, wouldas”, I can’t say that my marriage was the “worst thing I’ve ever done”. Out of that marriage came a beautiful little girl, the opportunity for travel and mini-adventures and I learned more about myself in those 7 years than I would have had I remained a single Black female addicted to retail giving someone’s son a migraine, because I was hell boy. Again, another topic…

Lesson #1: Share and share alike. 

What this means is that each person is likely to blame the other for the break up. But the truth is that you both contributed to the break up in some way. Yes, I know. It’s a hard pill to swallow, one that leaves a bitter and uncomfortable taste in your mouth but it’s necessary for healthy and positive growth. Sometime last year, I realized that my unwillingness to acknowledge the things that “I” could have done differently in my marriage was directly related to my current state of unhappiness. By not taking an honest look at what went wrong, and my role in it, it would be impossible for me to make a conscious effort to avoid making the same mistakes in the future thus my inability to truly connect with another person on an intimate level.

When I finally decided to peel the band-aid off my old and now infected wounds, once I began to clean around it and tend to it properly I was able to see that a lot of the pain I endured was of my own doing. I wrote down a list of things that contributed to my divorce and beside each item I made note of what I did or did not do in response to said situation. I examined how my role in whatever it was contributed the final showdown and I was uncomfortably surprised at how many of those items could have been avoided if I had either spoke up, took action and/or approached the situation differently.

He fucked up. Royally, but in the spirit of transparency...I didn’t help much either.

Lesson #2: I need my space but I dont want to be alone.

I am an introvert in its purest form. I take pleasure in being alone. I don’t hate it. I enjoy it. I am not sure if I am a natural introvert or if it was learned, however, I do know that for as long as I can remember I have always pretty much been a loner with high levels of imagination. It’s probably why I took such a strong interest in writing. Growing up I didn’t have many friends and if I am going to be completely honest, I was never one of the cool kids and my people skills sucked. 

Most women like to snuggle, cuddle and be under their men all the time but I learned that I was not one of them. Don’t get me wrong I love to snuggle and cuddle like the rest, in fact it’s a requirement. But I have things to do and I like to do them alone. I value my “me” time and I take a lot of it. Sharing a space with someone kind of limits the amount of “me” time I can get as well as the amount of attention I give myself or my projects and for me that is frustrating. One of the complaints my ex had was that I spent way too much time in my “own little world”, on my computer not including him in whatever it was I was doing. Well hello sir, sorry, but I like having my own thing going on without you being involved in it. For most of the day I was a student, a wife, a mother, a full time employee and the caretaker of a dog…

To try to appease my husband, I proposed a compromise where we could be in the same room with one another in silence. Instead of going to our room and locking myself in to be alone I proposed that when he is playing his game (which would be for hours mind you) I would bring my laptop downstairs and sit on the couch with him, with my legs in his lap. That way I could get my silence, he could get his time and everyone would be happy.

In return he also suggested that Saturdays for me be spent away from the house. It was a Saturday tradition for me to get up early, prepare breakfast and disappear for the rest of the day. I would be gone all day doing whatever it was that I wanted to do, alone. 

To my surprise it worked and I began to enjoy it and look forward to actually spending that “me time but also you time” with him. So much so that I began a tradition of going to Gamestop every payday to purchase a new game for him to play while “I played”.

It worked. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to save my marriage from other issues that would soon arise.

Lesson #3: Time heals. But only if you let it.

Let me say that again. Time heals, but only if YOU let it. This is a lesson that I still struggle with to this day. It is so easy to live in the past because it is safe and familiar. I was one of those people who believed that I had every right to live in the past. The past hurt me. The past damaged me. I owed it to myself and everyone around me to know just how much the past hurt me. Everyone connected to the past needed to see and feel my hurt. Everyone needed to pay me the debt they owed. Unfortunately, the only person I ended up hurting was myself...

The first few months after a break up are the absolute worst. Or at least they were suppose to be. But honestly, I never grieved my marriage. I swept it under the rug. I ignored what was happening and pretended as if it never existed. I walked around in foggy glasses for about 3 years. Pretending to be fine because I refused to let myself grieve. For what? Why would I grieve that shithole of a marriage? I was free. I was living. Or, at least, I thought I was. It never hit me how much my marriage was effecting me until I was gut punched by some truth the guy I was dating at the time gave me one night when I was hanging out at his house.

My ex called me and I immediately jumped up and ran outside (strike 1). While outside I got into a heated argument with him, so loud that my conversation could be heard inside (strike 2). I spent about an hour arguing with him while I was suppose to be spending time with this person (strike 3) and when I re-entered the apartment I was completed flustered and my energy was toxic. I tried to explain to him what was going on but he really wasn’t trying to hear what I had to say. He walked me to my car, gave me a hug and before I closed my door he told me that I should really consider “healing” before trying to date again. He told me that no one is going to want to deal with what he witnessed tonight. At first I was pissed and felt as if what I had going on over here to the left was none of his business. I felt that he was being impractical and completely “maleish”. A few weeks later, I came to realize that he was right. If I didn’t get ahold of my emotions and learn how to “heal” from this, the cycle will continue and I will never find happiness again.

Once I began to come to terms with what happened and allowed myself the opportunity to experience all of the emotional ups and downs, I began to understand myself more. Of course, dealing with my feelings became easier as time went on.  I learned that holding onto my past regrets and bitterness will only keep my life from moving forward. Always having to work overtime to silence my inner voice working with all the "what ifs" and "if onlys"? This is normal for a period of time, but ask yourself...are these thoughts serving me or helping me feel better? 

In order for me to move my life forward, it was important to acknowledge my feelings including admitting to myself that I was hurt, hurting and in need of some massive self-care and healing. 

Lesson #4: Accept the facts. I went for potential and ignored the red flags...

The first step to fixing a problem is to admit that you have one. To sit here and say that I had absolutely no idea in the beginning of our relationship that the things which ultimately led to the end of our relationship weren’t present would be a lie. They absolutely were but I ignored them because I was “in love” and I could “fix it”.

When first starting a relationship, you may feel as though you have found your soulmate. You even imagine having a wonderful future together, and may even talk about it. But, over time, things start to go downhill. The honeymoon phase is over and you begin to take notice to all of the things that seemed small so you let it go. You are now seeing your significant other as they are, not how you imagined them to be. This was me.

I started to wonder what I ever saw in him, I didn’t recognize him anymore, I didn’t know him anymore and he probably felt the same way about me. I started to believe that he changed on me. I cried because he was becoming this brand new person. And perhaps he was, or it could have been that this was who he always was. Maybe, I never really saw him as he was because I was too busy seeing who I wanted to see or “hoped” to see. 

So now I am disappointed. Now I feel betrayed. 

Then you break up. 

Then you begin to realize that “he” never betrayed you. You betrayed yourself.

Lesson #5: Happiness isn't an accident. It is intentional.

I didn’t want to be happy. If I did I would have made more of an effort to be happy. I liked being miserable because it was easier to complain about past things that no longer mattered. Why put forth an effort to be happy when I can just lay here and tell the story about how I got cheated on for the 800th time? 

I was a walking zombie and I didn’t even know it. I pretended to be happy and I played the part well. I kumbya’d and nameste’d through life shining bright like a diamond. I had my candles, my crystals, my incense. I meditated and talked to the ancestors often. It was my drug. It numbed the pain. But it didnt take it away. No amount of rootwork ever took away that lump in my throat. No amount of candles lighted and dressed took away that pain that hit my chest. No amount of lavender eased my anxiety. It was deeper than that. Deeper than any magic could cure.

It took me “almost” jeopardizing and sabotaging a situation that meant everything for me to see what my problem was. I simply had to choose to be happy…and do it.

Simply put: Happiness take work. You can't just let stuff happen to you, you have to take responsibility for making it what you want it to be. If you want to be happy, you have to work at being happy. 

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