I’ve been in a bit of a reflective mood lately. Could be because I just returned from vacation, am preparing to move apartments, or the fact I recently bought an adult coloring book (which oh my god I love! how did it take me so long to invest in one of these?). Anyway often when life changes are happening and I’m feeling particularly doubtful, I look back to an old post I wrote back in 2013 when I was commuting five hours a day from Baltimore to Bethesda and nearing the end of a four-year relationship.
I never published it but I feel the sentiments ring true. Just like tonight when I was coloring inside these insanely detailed lines from my new coloring book, my fingers started to hurt but I kept coloring because I needed to see my ideas visualized and because I knew however hard it was it would make me happy.
Just Be Brave (December 2013)
I retweeted a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert yesterday that went something like this: “Met a woman tonight who said, ‘Just because a decision makes you sad doesn’t mean it was the wrong one.’ Things I wish I’d known at 25 …”
I’m almost 27, and I’m still struggling with this concept. It used to be when I made up my mind about something, I never questioned myself. I accepted my rational thought process as truth and my emotions as mere distractors. But clearly, I had never been in love before.
I am at a crossroads again, where my heart says one thing and my mind says another. The last time I listened to my mind I ended up hurting myself and those around me so then I started trusting my emotions, especially when it came to relationships. Now this seems like the least logical step, but it kept me in one of my most valued relationships for three years.
And then just as my emotions had kept me grounded for three years, they also kicked the rug out from under my feet. I couldn’t control them. I said things I didn’t mean. I overreacted to every little fight. I never considered how the other person was feeling, only how they were making me feel: outraged, frustrated, hurt, depressed, helpless, restricted, crazy.
I’m starting to think all of these emotions stemmed from a larger relationship issue (something that may have never been fixable). Why else would I say the things I said and do the things I did? That wasn’t me. I was watching myself from another room, abhorred by the incoherent behavior of this obviously unstable woman. Who could control her? Maybe it’s best she be left alone?
In the end, she was left alone (not abandoned, just isolated). I haven’t seen her since. I don’t know if I ever will (I hope not – she was a vicious demon). But we all have faults. We all make mistakes. And sometimes “just because a decision makes you sad doesn’t mean it was the wrong one.”
I have lived by this philosophy my whole life. When I left for college, I was sad to leave home, but I loved learning a new place and making new friends. When I left for graduate school, I was sad to leave my boyfriend and even a job I detested for the sake of a new career, but I found another boyfriend and a better job. When I left my last job, my least favorite, I was sad to leave some of my co-workers, but the new opportunities I now have are worth it.
But whenever a relationship ends, it’s hard, even if you’re the breakee. In my last relationship, I broke his heart, but I knew it was the right decision for both of us. We’ve since moved on to better places. Still, in the moment, I kept thinking of this Gilmore Girls’ quote (yes I loved that show until the original writers left) from the second to last season: “Some things are never meant to be, no matter how much we wish they were.”
I want to say I hope we can work it out, but the damage is done. It’s been done over and over again. Shouldn’t that be a sign? That no matter how much we wish it, it’s never going to be what we want it to be.
I always thought I would end up alone. I’m an introvert – I’m not easy to live with – I have diabetes – I’m a writer. These are all silly excuses, I know, and I’m still young. I have time. I have opportunities. But I’m not ready to start anew. Not after this one. I only got a two-month reprieve before this relationship started. I wasn’t ready then. I’m not ready now.
I sit on the metro train and try to hold back the tears. I keep telling myself over and over again: “Just be brave. Just be brave. Just be brave.”