How A Breakup Turns Into Breakthrough

Sometimes the right thing to do feels wrong because of the narratives you have built in your head.
breakup and breakthrough in a relationship
breakup and breakthrough. image source: pexels

Validation, mutual affection, trust, and if we're lucky we find true love. Those long nights, the shared moments of intimacy, the laughter in awkward moments, it really is a beautiful thing; it makes something like a breakup all the more difficult. It's never an easy choice, and that pesky healing process is something that progresses at its own pace, seemingly apathetic to what you're going through. But that's never really the case, is it? We want the pain and longing to go away, but there's always something to be learned from it; that's what I've been wrestling with these past few weeks.

You see, I found myself more afraid of losing the idea of the relationship and the aspects of what makes a relationship romantic, rather than cowering at the thought of walking away from someone with which  I'd shared these last two years. Towards the end, I came to realize that I had stopped growing as an individual because I had failed to set boundaries early in the relationship and instead devoted every waking second to being the go-to problem solver for any and every issue.

Truth be told, it wasn't the extraordinary requests or the minute silly preferences that shape a personality, but the everyday reoccurrences...those things that a person should be able to do on their own. One night turned into two, then into a week, and then a habit is born, and that was where my excess of assistance had been locked for roughly six months. I encouraged her where I was able to, but comfort had sprouted from dependence, and now since it appeared as something so docile and safe, pulling away and reestablishing those boundaries was made exponentially difficult. 

It's worth mentioning that I have a strong disdain for that word: "boundaries". Ironically enough, that aversion to the word itself means that in my personal life I tend to avoid drawing lines in my relationships with others, even when it is very clear for my own mental and emotional well-being. I know I know, it's toxic for all parties involved and inherently selfish.

Anyways, whenever I set out to carve some space for myself in the relationship, she had this way of agreeing to it, but then slowly chipping away at it, until a week later we were right back where we started, except now I was left with a tinge of resentment while she believed we had reached a happy compromise; this happened three or four more times before the breakup. It began to feel so one-sided, but I woke up every morning, hoping that this day would be different than the last. How do people define insanity? Doing something the same way over and over again but always expecting a different result?

I guess what I'm ultimately trying to get at is that I came to a crossroads recently. Do I continue in the relationship as it is, having already tried on more than one occasion to explain how I felt (to no avail), or do I walk away now and guarantee a renewed self-respect by putting myself first? Now, ask anyone who knows me, I'm the person who puts everyone else's needs before my own, to my own inconvenience. So when faced with a situation that made me consider what was best for myself, I decided to take my best interest in hand. However, the guilt that accompanied this decision still bleeds out every now and then, and I feel selfish. How messed up is that, feeling selfish and guilty for making the best choice for yourself?

But when these feelings sprout up, I think back to a conversation I have with my mom every now and then and while the phrase "there are two kinds of people in the world" is slightly cliché, this one hits closer to home: There are two kinds of people in the world...the oblivious and the accused. There is this annoyingly persistent thing I do where I see something someone is struggling with and I immediately move to relieve them of duty and finish it for them. I fall into the category of the accused, and so I always feel guilt, even when I've done nothing wrong or everything right, it's still there.

These drawn-out moments of internal conflict - as frustrating and unsolicited as they may be - are what catalyze my breakthrough moments. Reality starts to catch up with the wild narrative I've built in my head, and when it finally does, and I take a step back, it's refreshing. After spending years thinking I wasn't good enough, I see now that this forced me to try harder to please people, and in some sick paradox reinforced this idea that I was guilty of something, otherwise I wouldn't be stuck in the role of a servant.

I wrote this poem the other day (I'm an English major it comes with the territory) and at the time I was writing about the paralysis one feels during writers' block, but as I revisit it, I can say with confidence that it's application reaches beyond the block and touches on something I've struggled with for a long time. in the poem, I refer to it as inhibition, but in reality, it's Fear. Be it fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of inadequacy... I don't want to wake up one day only to find out that I'm less than I thought I was capable of, so I create inhibition where there needn't be any. 

I am the damn.

Built over time to hold back

Delusions and voiceless thoughts. 

From synapse to synapse these fingers tap




Away at a keyboard though I know

Much of what is wrote will be


Inhibition: The moat for hope.

How strange to feel as though

Words are trapped behind a mouth 

That never intends to speak its mind

But my mind is the thing banging on 

That damn and its intolerable suspension

Of everything in favor of nothing.

Complacence holds to form,

Fear patches those persistent cracks

The ones that leak and erode and break free…

I want to write, and the only thing stopping me

Is the damn I give.

My breakup turned into a breakthrough, one where I was honest enough with myself to point out self-sabotaging tendencies. Healing is difficult enough, but it becomes something painful when you lie to yourself. If anything we owe it to ourselves to grow from past experiences, inhibitions are damned.

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