I didn’t take the idea of breaking up with my ex-boyfriend lightly. Nothing was “wrong,” but my doubts about our future overtook my hopes about our future. The spark of our relationship was gently fading within me.
I debated breaking up with him, at first, to myself and then slowly with some of my closest friends. While I wasn’t committed to the idea of ending things, it’s never a good sign when I start inching towards the door marked exit.
Moreover, we had a week-long vacation coming up that complicated what to do.
When we actually went on our vacation, I spent every day examining if I could see a future with him. Every moment of silence and discussion of what activity to do next, became a question for me of if we were compatible.
I was waiting for the epiphany to strike and say that I should stay with him, and it never came.
In fact, we discussed at the end of the trip how we should talk again soon about what we both need to move to the next chapter of the relationship.
He left the conversation with optimism that we were working towards the future, but the conversation ended up being a missing piece of the break up puzzle for me.
It gave me permission to think about myself, and not about us as a couple. I had been thinking about what everyone else would think if I ended things. I felt the potential disappointment weighing on top of me.
However, if I’m being honest, I never thought he was my future husband. An amazing husband for someone, but I never identified as that someone.
When we returned from the vacation, I thought about it some more and knew the end had come for me. I even talked to my mom about it, who was on the team, “You should work it out.” But I felt complete in this relationship. And that seemed to be enough for me.
It was something that no one else could feel or understand unless they were in my shoes.
A week after our vacation, I went over to his apartment and did it. As the minutes passed during our three-hour conversation, I returned to the special place inside myself marked “me” and away from “we.”
You see, I didn’t feel restrained by him, but I didn’t feel like I could completely be myself with him. He even noticed the change as I spoke to him.
“I’ve seen you be this way with your friends and didn’t think it had anything to do with us. But now you’re interacting with me the way you do with them. It makes me sad, because it makes me feel like you couldn’t be yourself with me.”
And he was right.
Afterwards, I called one of my best friends from an Uber, and she asked, “How do you feel?” I said, “Free.”
I had growing to do, and I knew I couldn’t do it while attached to him. He wasn’t my counterpart to grow with. While maybe he felt like I was his counterpart, I didn’t believe he couldn’t uplift my dreams, dissuade my fears and love me for me.
Fast forward a year since the break-up, and I’m changed forever. Friendships have dissolved and appeared. I’ve reflected on the beach. I’ve missed him. I’ve drunkenly cried at Pride. I’ve dined with new guys. I’ve celebrated with friends. My granny passed. I’ve changed careers. I’ve prayed. I’ve been doing the mental work.
But if you ask what hasn’t changed over the past year: Knowing who I am and knowing what I need…even if I sometimes need to be better at voicing it.
The truth for me is: I’m a fire needing oxygen. Fuel me, and don’t let me fade out.