“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Every once in a while, I suffer through sleepless nights.
I can’t help wondering if there was something I could have possibly done to save my past relationship—questions rain down on me like arrows.
Now that the time has passed, I’m able to see things more clearly. At the end of my short-lived hesitant moments, the arrows would stop in their tracks and go backwards—they don’t fall on me anymore.
I’m not sure whether things could have been different, but I do know one thing for sure: If I hadn’t lost that person, I wouldn’t have found myself.
To lose and find ourselves are big ideas that can’t be easily defined in a couple of words. If I were asked my thoughts on this a few years ago, I would have laughed at the whole topic. I would have ascertained my existence but wouldn’t have believed in the possibility of losing myself, let alone finding myself again.
Not until I experienced it, could I own it. I would compare losing myself to a soggy leaf easily swept by the wind—it goes wherever the wind takes it. With more time, it started to feel like I was stuck in a whirlwind, and the chances of getting out were scarce. I lost my motivation to live—I found no reasons worth keeping myself alive.
I saw no past and no future, only a dismal present with fluctuating emotions and destructive thoughts. My ego was exposed, and so it put my whole belief system at stake. It felt like everything I’d ever believed was only a lie I kept telling myself. Even worse, I felt like my mask dropped, and left me to behold a face I don’t recognize—a doubtful, depressed, weak, lost person.
At that moment, it appeared to me that we all may have been born lost—we’re just not aware of it. Until a trauma takes place, we’re like cubs wandering the forest, oblivious to the presence of more powerful creatures that might attack us at any time, but the attack is what precisely transforms us.
Everyone has different ways of being transformed. Some people may lose all their material belongings, while others go through life-changing accidents. One of these transformations includes meeting a person who makes you lose yourself, but then you lose this person and rediscover yourself.
It’s not an amusing equation to assess, but it’s a reality for many people out there.
Meeting someone + losing yourself in them + eventually losing them = finding yourself
Whatever form the transformation takes, we basically have to lose something, so we can find ourselves or win ourselves back.
Finding myself has been one of the most intense things I have experienced. I felt re-born. I felt like now I truly know what I want and what I don’t want. What I tolerate and what I don’t tolerate. I could, at last, distinguish my own thoughts from others’ and not be swiftly identified by external situations.
I became decisive, happy and hopeful. Instead of opting to find an exit from the whirlwind, I danced with its turbulence, allowing the air to spin me inside it. I learned to trust myself and to love myself. I started taking risks, knowing that the biggest risk of all would be remaining where I am.
The destructive relationship I went through was not within the realm of my plans—it started like any other healthy, happy love story. Going through it is something I can’t possibly change or give myself a hard time about. In the past, I regretted it immensely, but now I no longer do.
These people find us, and the experience happens for a reason. It could be a destructive relationship with a family member, a close friend, or a co-worker, but sometimes, we just have to lose others and let them go to find a missing part of ourselves—or in my case, my whole self.
Be happy for the loss, for that loss is prompting a change within you. You think you have lost, but the truth is, you haven’t—you’ve actually won.
You’ve just transformed from a cub into a lion.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Instagram @antonioalbertoni
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina