There are questions we may feel we need answered once we’ve exited a long-term relationship.
For certain, we need to do some deep self examination and acknowledge our parts in the unraveling. Relationships rarely end due to one party’s mistakes. But there may be things we don’t really want to know. And things we regret asking.
When my marriage ended, I thought I so badly needed to know how my ex could move on so swiftly and in such a serious way after 14 years together. His answer, which was presented to me in post-marriage, co-parenting counseling, just about broke my spirit—as if I wasn’t broken enough at the time. “I met someone who was nice to me.” That’s what he said. “I’m freaking nice,” I thought. But the truth is, neither of us was very nice to the other those last few years.
Man, did I perseverate on this though. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It’s easy to be nice when you have no real life stressors—no shared children, no combined finances, no 100-year-old home that has been taken over by rats the size of your arm (I’m serious).
But there is something else. And here’s the truth. I don’t think anyone has ever used the word “nice” to describe me. It’s not that I’m not a nice person, it’s just not my most defining characteristic. I think if you were to ask my friends or family words that describe me, they would say: funny, loyal, sincere, honest, sarcastic, cynical, spontaneous, invested.
All of those qualities (except maybe the cynical part—I’m working on that), are great qualities right? And they are qualities that first attracted my ex-husband to me. At the time when we separated, we were both desperate for some TLC. He found it in a new partner. I found it in my vast tribe of friends. Neither path is wrong. It’s just different, no matter how hurtful.
The number of nights I laid awake obsessing about how much nicer this person is than me, well, I can’t even tell you. And eventually I got to a place where I was able to recognize my own unique qualities as something a lover will appreciate in me again. If not, who the hell needs him?
I’m sharing this for friends who I know, right this very moment, are thinking “what does she/he have that I couldn’t provide?”
The answer is nothing.
Or at least, it doesn’t matter.
You are absolutely, 100 percent enough. Please don’t doubt that. And maybe for a season you were the right someone for him or her. But seasons change, and sometimes implore us to change along with them. And we must. We must. It’s inevitable. Winters come and go, but spring, she always shows up eventually.
So be your most authentic self. Spring will come, I promise.
Author: Courtney Heiser
Editor: Catherine Monkman