Life is funny. Life can make you laugh until your stomach aches with fantastic pain. It can make you cry until your eyes are sore and you have no more tears left to shed. It can make you dance, make you sing, make you throw things, punch things, and scream from happiness, anger, guilt, and sadness all at once. Life has a way of throwing you into circumstances that can either define you or break you, and sometimes these events can do both.
I’ve been around twenty-five years. Some may say that’s too young of an age to experience true pain and depression, but I know that to be false. In my quarter century, I’ve lost three exceptional grandparents and three much-loved animals. I’ve seen my parents go through a gruesome separation, which I know will end in divorce. I’ve been betrayed by a best friend in the worst possible way, and I’ve been on the receiving end of a break-up with someone I thought I loved. I’ve made and lost more friends than I care to admit, and I know that some of those losses were due to my own negligence. I’m not proud of it. I know what it feels like to be lonely beyond belief, angry, and unhappy all at once. Some may say twenty-five years is too short of a time to have experienced all of these things, but I know better. I have.
And while all of these experiences have helped me to grow and shown me lessons I needed to learn, they were still damn hard. Oftentimes, I wish I hadn’t gone through them, and I certainly hope I’ll never have to go through some of them again.
This month I learned what it felt like to be on the breaker side of a break-up. I was the one who shattered someone’s heart. I’ve been the breakee before, and I knew how hard it was to be that person. To be the one who didn’t see it coming. I thought being the person on the other side probably hurt less – at least they were prepared for a future without the other person. But after becoming the breaker, I know now that this is a thousand times more difficult.
Let me begin by saying that my relationship wasn’t horrible; in fact, I probably had one of the better relationships out there. I had a man who made me feel confident about myself, my abilities, and my idiosyncrasies. He is supportive, kind, and loving. But every person has flaws, every relationship struggles with certain aspects, and sometimes those flaws and struggles become too great to fight against.
What no one tells you when you’re young is that you’re constantly growing, developing, and creating your personality. Your hopes, dreams, ambitions, and tastes change with age, and it never stops. When you’re with someone, you hope that their personality grows in the same direction as yours, or at least very similarly. You aim to be two trees growing close enough together to tangle branches while keeping your trunks firmly separated. Relationships fizzle when your trees begin to fuse together – either you become a singular identity without a degree of individuality, or one person consumes the other. I know a few couples who have ended their relationships because their trees melded together.
But when those branches begin to pull away from each other, when they start to grow in opposite directions without any hope of twisting back, then you know it’s the end. You have grown too much apart; your branches are too thick and set in their direction to ever have a hope of tangling with your partner’s tree again. Even though you may fight the direction your branches are growing with every ounce of your strength, you know you’re not strong enough to pull the branches back. They’re going to grow the way they want – you cannot stop it. Sure, you could saw off the branches sprouting the wrong way, but what does that accomplish? You’re cutting off a part of yourself that needs to grow. You’re delaying the inevitable. Because no matter how many times you saw off that branch, new growth will always return in the spring. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell yourself it will work out and it doesn’t matter how long you try to force your branches to grow back toward your partner’s tree, eventually you’ll run out of energy and stop sawing.
I chose to stop sawing.
Being the breaker is the most difficult thing I have ever done. I never wanted to hurt anyone, and it made my whole soul ache to see how much anguish I caused him. But I had to make a choice to help myself grow. To help us both grow. To let go. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having been planted next to him for four years, and I hope he knows that. He’s helped me grow in ways that I never would have been able to by myself. I thank him for that. But now it’s time that I let my branches blossom.
While working through the pain of losing someone I (still) care deeply about, I came to a realization – I’m a writer. About a week after our break up, I instinctively turned to the book I’ve been working on that I haven’t touched in six years. I didn’t feel like baking, I didn’t feel like taking pictures of food, and I didn’t feel like blogging (although I did feel like eating a lot). What I yearned to do most was writing. I felt it deep and strong, and I knew this would be the thing to help me heal.
Writing is my true passion. It’s the reason I started this blog in the first place.
So I’m going to take some time for myself. I’m going to take a few months and complete this book that I’ve been meaning to finish since I was nineteen. I’m going to take the time and help myself heal.
Life has a funny way of handing you choices. Ultimately, you can choose whether a moment will define you or break you, and sometimes that moment can do both.
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