Learning not to care what people think of you takes on a whole different meaning when you do the thing I now affectionately refer to as “blowing up your life”.
Three months ago I blew up my life; a life almost a decade in the making. A life and a relationship that was pulled and stretched and brought to the breaking point, yet somehow always finding it’s way back to uncomfortable grounding. Ours was a tumultuous relationship, never having that solid footing I believed needed to be there. I pushed that feeling down for so many reasons. I was fearful of the unknown. I was unsure if I wasn’t simply having cold feet. I felt the unspoken but omnipresent pressure of society telling me to settle down, get married, and have babies.
And yet… my heart and mind battled. Battled for clarity, battled for loyalty, battled for and against myself. I was exhausted from fighting myself. Anxiety, weight loss, insomnia, tears… but I was not there yet. I hadn’t found the will to face myself; to face the very truth that was like a cancer spreading through my unconscious.
Because this is my story, my lens, my experience – I can only share it through the only way I know how: brutal clarity and honesty. But as I said in the beginning of this long essay on love and loss and the rediscovering of self, I cannot care what people think of me any longer.
I’ve not shared this story with many people because I wanted my decision to end my engagement to stand on its own, to have been strong enough to walk away from a perceived happiness, from a life that was not my own. And at the end of the day, I’ve decided it matters not on the how’s and the why’s of that ending but instead to focus on the fact that I was brave enough to do it at all.
Because something happened to shift the course of my life forever– I fell in love with someone else.
Yes, I’ve said it now. It’s out there. Someone came along and completely swept me off my damn feet.
And still I fought. But this time the internal clash was to fight the rising tide of being completely drawn to someone, while betrothed to someone else. This fight brought up an entirely different conversation within me:
- How could I let this happen?
- I am a terrible person.
- But I deserve to be happy.
- This is just too cliché.
- Maybe you’re looking for an out, you’re just projecting.
- These are just passing feelings.
- But…what if they aren’t?
Turns out, they were not passing feelings. Maybe I was a terrible person. Maybe I still am. But the moment I was able to admit how unhappy I had been, how my heart-wrenching anxiety was directly tied to my upcoming nuptials, and all the ways that life with my ex-fiancé could never be… it came flowing out of me with shards of glass for words. But they were words and they were my quivering words: I cannot marry you. I am not happy.
Have you ever walked into something you knew was going to be really unbearably awful? It’s that moment before a car accident where you brace yourself for the impact. It was like that, but worse. I am still working through feelings of guilt and shock. Many nights I’ve laid in bed pondering “whose life is this?” For this is not something I do!
Or maybe it is.
Maybe it’s time to realize this is something I do. I chose to take back my life and I cannot be ashamed of that. I never thought this would be my story, but alas. I did something I never thought I’d be brave enough to do. I did something selfish and bold and awful and amazing.
How am I doing now? I am doing ok. I don’t think I can aptly describe the exquisite pain of falling in love with someone while nursing a broken heart. Because mind you, just because I was bold and brave and made the decision… my heart is still broken. Nine years is a long time with a lot of love, memories, and life tied up with that.
But that is the thing about decisions. You make them. You deal with the pain. And you make a new life for yourself that feels infinitely more in line with what you truly want in your deepest heart of hearts. All I had to do was admit that to myself. As for the rest? Still being written…