When I said goodbye, I meant it.
Even though it hurt, and part of me wanted him to ask me to stay, I knew this relationship wasn’t working.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love him—I did. It’s just that no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I wanted this relationship to work out, it didn’t feel right. I thought it was because he needed to change, he needed to step up to the plate and ask me to marry him. He needed to fight for me.
But truthfully, I was the one who needed to change. He didn’t need to do anything, at least not for me. I didn’t see it at the time, but the reason this relationship wasn’t working was that I was unhappy with myself.
I was using the relationship as a way to complete those things I didn’t want to change. As a way to avoid the fear, pain and ugliness I felt inside. I felt if he committed to me, married me, then this deep, longing void would go away.
But the more I clung to him, the more I hated myself. So I displaced that hatred and fear of change onto him, and walked away from our relationship.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was really walking away from the relationship of negative self-talk I had with myself.
I could love him and he could love me, but I couldn’t see it because I wanted him there every moment to fill the moments when I was too scared to do things alone—to try, to grow and to put myself out there and become the independent woman I used to be.
I was using him as a crutch and when he wasn’t there to fill that void at the exact minute it became too painful to face, I saw him as not good enough. I was engaged in a war that only I understood. He didn’t see it and probably at times thought I was being irrational.
But once I said goodbye, I felt freedom.
I had this unstoppable feeling that I could do anything, go anywhere. The places and things I used to fear doing alone, I now craved—like driving at night or going to parties without a date.
Doing these things now made me feel free, alive and happy. I had no desire to go back to that trapped, suffocating place; a relationship where I felt like I was dragging someone along.
My worry and fear disappeared, because I didn’t have to anticipate rejection. This whole world, this space, this time was mine. Every boundary and obstacle was removed. It made me wonder why anyone would ever want a relationship when single life was so liberating.
But I realized it wasn’t him I let go of. Yes, I broke up with him. But the person I really said goodbye to was the part of me that I didn’t believe could do it alone. The part of me that craved another person to make me feel whole.
I finally said goodbye to the girl who allowed fear and loneliness to keep her living with limitations.
Author: Jane CoCo Cowles
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Author’s own