In America, we are raised on romance—the notion that there is a perfect “forever” for us.
Of course, this is a template that has been handed down through generations of traditions, stipulations, and dictations. A lot of us think that being in a relationship will elevate our status. If we date someone with money, who is hot, who has connections, who can support our dreams, or who, at the very least, will sooth loneliness, then we can feel good about our lives.
But, what happens when we get into a relationship that breaks us down instead of builds us up?
An event called cognitive dissonance, which is when our external reality does not match the internal imagery of who we think we are, can lead to us confusing love with abusive or demeaning behaviors from our partners. Furthermore, our internal world acts as a filter to external input. So, we often cannot see the subtle degradations that chip away at our well-being.
We will often choose oppression and suppression over separation from our investment. And, that’s what a relationship is—an investment of time, energy, and resources.
Things are even more complicated when we are married to dysfunction—that is to say, that the contribution of both parties involved in creating the relationship are infusing it with distorted communication. This results in a toxic, yet often addictive, environment.
It can feel like a cage. It can undermine self-esteem. We can be aware of the discomfort, but at a total loss on how to shift it. In fact, we can keep making choices that reinforce our perception of being trapped.
Some of us attempt leaving the situation only to be pulled back in. Some of us wall off and withdraw from our significant other as a form of punishment. Some of us try to change who we are so we can manipulate our partner. At times we are aware of how we are contributing to the chaos. But, most of the time we are reactionary, which is born from our survival instincts.
When life is constructed from the energy of survival our choices become limited to fight, flight, freeze, or using sex as a means of control. Relationships are formed by two people contributing to a third entity. It becomes the vehicle that both sets the trajectory for each person, and helps to map out how each person is to behave in order to keep the wheels from falling off.
In an almost automatic fashion, when troubles arise, one person may want to veer off the road, while the other one wants to push harder on the accelerator. Each person has a choice to approach or avoid the conflict that shows up by virtue of habits, belief systems, and systemic issues. Suffice to say, we often cling the tightest to the thing we need to let go of the most.
Ironically, the action we need to take may be the last thing we perceive as accessible.
If you want to experience freedom then the right thing to do is break up. Actually, it isn’t even the right thing to do, it will inevitably be the next thing that happens because the soul is not meant to be confined.
Our birthright is to live an expressed life. We are the keepers of our fate and the arbiters of our destiny. Relationships have many functions. They can be a classroom and teach us. They can be a museum and help us archive memories. They can be a theme park and thrill us. They can be a spiritual journey and elevate our consciousness. But, rarely, are they meant to be a prescription to quell the persecution inflicted by life’s challenges.
Furthermore, although it is touted as such, self-love is also not a prescription to living a happy life. So often we search for reconciliation of our discomfort through intellectual means. We seek to explain away pain and to justify our folly. But, none of this is necessary. Freedom is immediately accessible if you are willing to let go.
The mistake we make when approaching breakup from frenetic emotions or analysis is to believe we have failed in some way. This is simply not true. Freedom comes when you remember you have, and always have had, a choice in the matter.
Living life as if it should have a defined outcome will ruin it. Don’t plan on forever with someone. Plan on spending your life having experiences that enrich your awareness of who you are and how you can use that to live your purpose.
Loving yourself simply means coming to full acceptance that you will be in a relationship with yourself for as long as your body lingers on this earth.
So, don’t think too hard on whether you can save your relationship or not. If you are asking that question, the answer is “No.”
Release it. Let go. Experience freedom and breakup.
Author: Rebekah McClaskey
Editor: Lieselle Davidson