Three years ago, I was miserable. I didn’t think I’d ever know what happiness felt like again. At the rate things were going, I just assumed I’d keel over at an early age from either a heart attack or an aneurysm brought on by stress. I saw no way out of the situation I was in and had mostly resigned myself to that fate.
Then it all changed.
I was free. I was single. I was no longer a captive of my ex’s behavior or her mental illness. I could breathe again. A friend told me I looked three inches taller just by being out of that relationship. Suddenly, I felt like I did have a chance to be happy again someday.
My life is extraordinarily different today. I’ve met an amazing group of women who I can easily call friends. I have a good job and a great boss. And I’m dating someone who is pretty damn awesome. But it took a lot to get to this point. I still have my moments of panic that things will fall apart. The difference now is that I know if something doesn’t work out, I’ll be ok.
After my ex and I split, I spent a lot of time thinking about the relationship, what went wrong, what could I have done differently, etc. I thought about my marriage and all the mistakes I made there. I thought about failed friendships. In fact, I spent about year and a half thinking and self-analyzing and being a hermit. Want to know the conclusion I finally came to?
Sometimes shit just doesn’t work out.
From a very young age, we’re fed this idea that the one major adult romantic relationship/partnership we have will be and should be the only one we have. For the rest of our life. And sometimes it does work out that way. But sometimes it doesn’t. And that’s ok. We all change. We make mistakes. What we wanted when we were 25 might not be what we want when we’re 45.
When a relationship doesn’t work out, it’s natural for us to ask why. We place a lot of blame on ourselves when sometimes we shouldn’t. We carry the guilt of our mistakes around like a ball and chain. We fear that we’ll repeat the mistakes in our next relationship.
These are all the things I did for years after the end of my relationships. It didn’t really help me. It just made me petrified of ever being in a relationship again. At one point, even the thought of dating sent me into anxiety attacks. All the “what ifs” started swirling around in my head, making me crazy. I started to go back into hermit mode.
But I had already lost too many years of my life being unhappy and worrying about repeating my mistakes or starting to date and then having it not work out. I didn’t want to live in fear of myself or the unknown anymore. I didn’t want to waste any more years of my life. So I decided to just let it all go. The first few tentative steps I took out into the world scared the shit out of me. But I kept going. I talked the fear down. And I had friends and family talking me through it.
My first attempt didn’t work out the way I initially wanted but it was ok. I got back up and kept moving. And I met someone else. We clicked. We enjoy spending time together. We like a lot of the same things. We relate well. And we both have our own fears of relationships that we are working through. Together.
I think we often spend too much time looking at our pasts or worrying about our futures and not enjoying the present. We can’t predict what’s going to happen. And we can’t change what we’ve done. But life is too short and too precious to miss out on enjoying it with someone when you can.
Not all relationships last forever and that’s ok. Some are meant to get us to a new point in our life and help shape us. We need to take the negative and the positive with us, but not let it hold us down or back. I’ve had many friendships and relationships end or change over the years. It’s sad, but it’s also the natural course of things. It just might be that all those things I did, all those relationships I’ve had were meant to get me to the exact moment in time I’m in now. Since it’s a damn good moment, I’m going to enjoy it and do what I can to keep it.