Tuesday, December 14, 2010

forgive yourself more


I just watched the movie Eat Pray Love. I had started reading the book a few months back, but I only made it a few chapters in. Life always find its way of interrupting a good book. But there was one quote from the first few chapters that I wrote down. It epitomized everything I had felt about my last relationship, all the guilt that filled me on a daily basis:

"Let it be sufficient to say that, on this night, he was still my lighthouse and albatross in equal measure. The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn't want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached Greenland."

When I broke off the most important, meaningful relationship I'd ever been in I had no idea what to do. I knew it was coming. I could feel myself drawing back. And it was nothing he did. He had remained the same person. But in the years we'd been together I'd changed. I'd grown. And somehow I needed to get out and find myself.

The week before we broke up I went to Costa Rica to study abroad. I spent nearly three weeks disconnected from everything. In the middle of the rainforest you have nothing to do but examine your life. I was supposed to be opening myself up to new adventures, but I was falling apart at the seems.

Back in high school I would pray every single night that if God would just let this guy return his feelings for me that I would never hurt him. I would never break his heart. This isn't even a slight exaggeration. I spent countless nights bargaining with some higher power to please let me have a shot at this relationship. But here I was, having transferred back to Towson, living two houses up from him, wondering what had happened. I wanted to love him. I wanted with every ounce of my body to be happy with the relationship. But something in my had withdrawn itself and I knew no other way to deal.

I told him my feelings the night before I left for the Bahamas. I was petrified. I thought if I could just get away from the situation it would be fine. But when I cut things off I was so scared. I was unable to function. I don't think I stopped crying for 24 hours.

I will never forget my mom at my house, trying to comfort me and pull me together, telling me that I at least had to cut my grass before I left the country for a month. And so balling my eyes out I pushed (or more collapsed on) the push-lawnmower across the front yard. Looking back now it was probably a hilarious sight.

I went about my break-up in quite possible the worst way a human being can do so. Like a coward, I fled the country. I went to Hopetown where I drank myself under a table. I made horrible, poor choices. I tried to run. write. drink. anything it all way.

I spent a month there making an even bigger mess of my life there. I returned home devastated and realizing that I was even worse alone than I was in my relationship. I couldn't function in the relationship and I couldn't be by myself.

We went back and forth for years. I'd move on. Then find myself comparing someone to him. And nobody was him. They talked too much. They expected too much out of me emotionally. They didn't smell the way he did. Their bed wasn't as comfy. Everything they did was wrong. Of course in reality, one or two of these guys was doing everything that would normally be right in a relationship. But in my chaos the last thing I was capable of was building a relationship.

So for years it went like this: Meet a new guy. Spend 2 months dating them. Realize I don't care about them the way I should. Go back to my old relationship. Find myself dissatisfied with the fact that my feelings were still all over. It was awful. I couldn't get it right. I'd separate myself from the relationship and go back in hopes things would work. I was everywhere. All over the map.

It almost became a form of self-hate. I cannot express in words the guilt that ate away at me. For two years I could still cry about it. I would hear one of his songs or see him interact in public and felt this ache. I could not find a way to make it right and I could not find a way to connect with anyone else. I was in limbo.

It took a long time for me to realize that the solution was not going to be found in him or another person. I had simply changed. Something in me had transformed and this perpetual cycle I was in was only making it worse. I'd lowered my standards of dating just because I couldn't be alone. I came across some real, sorry if you still read this, assholes.

Five years it took me. Five. To even begin to come full circle. We met in the summer of 2005. I fell head over heels. And in the summer of 2010 I finally looked at myself, how much we had gone through. I still was not where I wanted to be.

It took me five years to realize I was searching for something in everyone but myself. So this summer I made a silent promise to myself that I would take a hiatus from dating. I needed to reconnect with myself. So like I do, I spent my July in the Bahamas again. I finally repaired the damage I caused post-break up five years later. I drank. But I engaged myself in life: I kayaked. I ran daily. I would meditate on the back porch. I sailed daily. I let people into my home. I attended a wedding. I took too many pictures. I met new people. I swam.

I returned home. And like anybody, I fell back on my silent promise a few times here or there. But for the most part I made it a point to focus everything from that summer on about bettering myself and my future. I refused to carry any of this pain on beyond five years. Half a decade is too long to be upset about a relationship.

I finally found a way to forgive myself. And I found that to be a huge theme in Eat Pray Love. Forgiving yourself. Because we both went through hell and back. And I think sometimes we need to just let go and cut ourselves some slack. I didn't know my life was going to change so drastically from 17 to 22. But it does. That is life. And I am so thankful that I got that shot at the relationship. Maybe it didn't end the way it was supposed to. But some day I am going to look back on this process and realize that it was preparing me for something greater. It was a stepping stone to loving myself, by myself. It sent me on a journey. And it may have taken an unnecessarily long amount of time, but I am happy. And like I quoted Ashly, "Happiness is a hard fucking road".

Forgive yourself more.

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