After a lifetime of unrequited crushes, 2015 has been a pretty interesting year for me so far in terms of romance. I've experienced two very different relationships with two very different people--the first of whom was more a friend than a lover, and the second who was just... complicated. A month ago yesterday, I broke it off with him because I realized I was very, very unhappy--not just in the relationship, but in the fact that I have been suffering with anxiety and depression this summer, and I was having real difficulty in reaching out to my partner and not feeling like a burden, as well as difficulty in feeling like he understood what I was going through.
The truth is that I still spend most days regretting many of the things I did and said, and I often feel like I`m to blame for the failure of the relationship--which is something that, as far as I understand, is pretty common among people who struggle with mental illness. But what I want to emphasize in this entry, both as a reminder to myself and to others, is that your illness does not define you. There is so much I have learned and that I am still learning, but that's something I've always had difficulty coping with--the idea that maybe my illness will be a part of me forever and impact all the important aspects of my life. That it might even destroy my romantic relationships because it's too much, or because I'm somehow not enough. And it's true that it has definitely affected who I am and many of the connections I've made in my life. What I've come to realize, though... well, I'll share that soon enough. I thought perhaps if I shared some of the things I have realized through this relationship overall, it could prove helpful and maybe even cathartic for anyone who might need them. (Including myself.)
2. For me, that's the reminder that no relationship is one-way--and a normal relationship failing is no-one's fault, or at the very least not any one person's fault. If things were equal on both sides, you're doing yourself, your ex, and your relationship a disservice by blaming any one thing.
3. Talking to others also reminds you that you aren't alone--both in the fact that you don't have to be stranded in an island of pain and loneliness, and in the fact that your problems aren't unique and others have survived the same shit you're going through. Hearing a friend tell me today that she knows exactly what I'm going through, and how she dealt with it, has been one of the most comforting things I've heard in days.
4. Sometimes, though, talking about it is impossible. There are going to be a lot of really bad days. Relationships are scary because being vulnerable in front of another person is terrifying enough to begin with, but then there's the chance that you'll end up with a broken heart and it'll feel like it'll last forever. The only way to really survive the worst days is to know what your own coping mechanisms are and do your best to engage in them. For me, some ways to cope are to are to exercise, cook, read, and talk to friends. At my lowest points, I've found I can't even engage in any of these coping mechanisms--and that's a good time to take a nap, or otherwise find a way to give yourself a break from your thinking.
5. It's good to remember the good aspects of the relationship, but not during the time when you're still getting over someone. I've made a list of all the reasons why I needed to break up with my partner, and it actually has proven helpful.
6. Focusing a lot on the good days, or even the good moments, has helped me an immeasurable amount. I try to hold on to how I'm feeling by documenting it as best as I can--using pictures, words, whatever else I think might help me best remember the fact that these moments still exist even when you feel like you might never be happy again.
7. The hardest lesson I've learned so far: sometimes there's no such thing as closure. So far, all the people that I've fallen in love with are people who have stayed in my life even after I moved on, and that's always been something that's made me very happy because even if I no longer love them romantically, I'm still lucky enough to be a part of their life. In this particular relationship, my ex not only did not want to end things on a peaceful note--he just no longer wants to interact with me in any way. Almost every day, I've imagined us having a coffee, just being okay, and deciding to give each other a break before returning to friendship later on. The truth is that sometimes life just doesn't work like that, and that means that you just have to try to do the best you can, even if that means putting what you want aside.
8. Crying is okay. Leaning on people is okay. And if you still can't deal with the situation even though you're trying your hardest, it can be a good idea to seek professional help.
9. There's no changing the past. Your instincts are important, and if you felt wrong in your relationship at any point, or you felt the need to break it off, you were probably right in doing so, even if there are times when it doesn't feel like that.
I'm learning now that some things just are the way they are, even if there's no reason for them to be that way. Sometimes things just change, or they come to an end, and that's okay--life will keep going, sooner or later. Right now, it's okay to breathe through it, or cry or shout or scream through it too. You're gonna be alright, and I am too. ☀