“My heart has a history of hurtin’ those who mean the most to me. Before you get to close to me, I think you oughta know. While other hearts are holdin’ on, while other loves are growin’ strong, my heart has a history of letting go.” –My Heart Has a History (Paul Brandt)
This song played on my iPod yesterday, and I know it was not a coincidence. I had started dating someone about a month ago, and things were going great! He’s a very nice guy – kind, caring, compassionate, smart, funny, supportive, etc. – all the things I want in a partner. And I wrecked it. About 2 weeks in, I felt the anxiety building. I felt like it was all too much, too soon, and I told him I needed space, which he gave me. During that time I figured out what the anxiety was (because anxiety in itself is not an emotion). I was afraid. Afraid of making a mistake. Afraid of getting hurt. Afraid of him seeing me (the real me) and not liking what he saw. Afraid I wasn’t good enough.
I tried to be honest about my insecurity. It felt so vulnerable, and I shared my feelings anyway. I knew that in order to deal with (and change) my patterns of behaviour in relationships, I had to face it. But old habits die hard, and even though I know better, I let my fears dictate me. I think I expected too much instead of just going with the flow. And in the end, I created the exact thing I feared and didn’t want (being alone and feeling unlovable). After a mostly wonderful month together, he chose to end things.
“When something bad happens you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.” –unknown
After spending the last day moping around my apartment, I can tell you what doesn’t work to heal a heartbreak. Not eating. Drinking almost a whole bottle of wine. Being unpleasant in a conversation. Belittling myself afterwards. Crying myself to sleep. (Well, the crying may actually have helped. There’s no use in bottling up my sadness.) Feeling sorry for myself. Closing myself off. Planning a (running away) trip. Lying in bed doing nothing other than re-playing over and over in my head how I’d gotten myself into this situation. I had to literally ask myself, ‘What would feel better right now?’
What I decided would feel better was to get up, have a shower, to think about what I had learned from the experience, and write this blog post. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that I need to forgive myself and stop judging myself for not being who I want to be in every moment. I’ve learned that I would much rather say how I feel than be silent and pleasing. I’ve learned that I am not thick skinned – not literally (I’ll bruise within seconds if you pinch me) and not figuratively (in all the ways my feelings get hurt). But that’s me. I’m human. I have flaws. I hurt and get hurt. I’ve learned that I will always be imperfect, and that’s ok. I’ve learned that I want to do it better next time – to not have history repeat itself (and I know I will). I’ve learned that dating can be a lot of fun. And I’ve also learned that I actually do want to fall in love again. For all of that, I am beyond grateful for this teacher called life. Even during times of pain, there are gifts if you look for them.
“The deepest pain of a breakup is just a symptom – it’s the after effect of how much I’ve loved and how much I’ve given and how much I fully participated in that relationship, so it’s a validation for me in that moment that I was fully there.” ~Rhonda Britten~