I think we often fear hurting others more than we ought to, we forget that we are the masters of our own happiness. People find themselves in miserable marriages, jobs, situations, and consequently unhappy, in lifeless existences for the sheer fear of upsetting their partner, letting their boss down, whatever. They say happiness is a choice and I’m afraid we can’t make that choice for others, no matter how near or dear they are to us.
One thing I have always known is to be true to myself. I remember breaking up with a boyfriend not long ago and it was one of the most painful experiences of my life. The time we shared together hadn’t been long but it was beautiful, intense, and all-encompassing — the only way I live my life. But I knew it was over when it was over. I knew we were incompatible and I knew what I wanted for myself and my future. When I know something is right or wrong I have to pursue or leave it. I don’t think it makes me any more brave than the next person, simply intolerant to mediocrity. As Shakespeare said, “to thine own self be true.”
Breaking up with him was the single most difficult decision I have ever made in my life and as I drove over to where we were to meet and talk, I could hardly drive the car as I was heaving tears and sorrow. I told him it was over and he held me for a long time as my body shook and I cried more intensely than I ever had in my life. We stood together for a good thirty minutes as I cried but stood my ground. I cried because I knew I was hurting a good man. I cried because it was a loss. It was a loss of a good friend whom I love dearly, someone I had grown accustomed to and enjoyed spending all of my time with. I cried because it hurt. The pain was real and the hurt was intense. I cried incessantly for two weeks. I lost ten pounds and I would have fitful nights of sleep. I saw his car rounding every corner and saw him in every 5’10” bald white male. But I embraced that pain. I embraced looking over my shoulder and potentially running into him. We fear the potential uncomfortable situation that society calls “awkward” but it’s just an expression of emotion, discomfort, and it’s OK. It’s OK for life to not always be fireworks and butterflies.
Then it got easier. I wrote about my experience with him and I reflected about our relationship over long conversations with dear friends and with myself on long runs. I examined what I learned from it and how it made me the person I was at that moment in time. I do not regret a single thing I did with him or any decision to share those few months together, to share my life with his beautiful soul. However, I accept that that relationship was not what it needed to be for me. It taught me so much about life and love and myself and has made me consequently, more Sally, a better lover, and a better friend.
I simply cannot wrap my head around staying in a situation that is less than beautiful. I am not advocating for abandoning ship any time a situation becomes “less than beautiful.” I value the work it takes to make a relationship thrive and believe in continuous dialogue, adjustments, even seeking guidance from an external source such as a counselor or clergy member. However, there is beauty and liberation, for all parties involved, in setting oneself free. It is not selfish. Rather, it is one’s own duty to oneself to nurture his/her heart and soul. It may be painful but pain eases with time, and if it doesn’t, there is no shame in reconciliation. My mom always says you cannot fight fate. If something is destined to happen, there is no force strong enough from stopping it. So take care of yourself and let the universe take care of you.
“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.” I think it’s not only important to set ourselves free to fulfill our destiny but to give all our relationships in our lives the freedom and liberty to thrive as they were meant to. Because love is not possessive or controlling, love doesn’t take the driver’s seat. True love is simply beautiful and will thrive when it is set free. I wish you all unconditional love, fulfillment, and happiness in this beautiful life.