Earlier in the summer, I woke up with glee because I thought I had moved on from my previous relationship. It was my first time waking up and going to bed without thinking about my ex. I was focused on my books, my plans for my blogs, and my dreams of future goals. It was an exhilarating moment.
What I didn’t know is that there are levels to moving on:
- First, there’s the stage that I was excited to be in earlier this summer.
We can call that the beginning to move on. You’re feeling good, thinking about other things, entertaining the idea of casual dating.
- Then there’s the “Hm, maybe we can make an attempt at being friends” stage. You and your ex talk kind of awkwardly, but civilly and maybe the feelings are only platonic. For some people, that’s the end stage, and for some people (read: me) it’s a train wreck because there are some feelings left.
- Last comes the “I’ve hit the point of no return” stage.
Enter me. Hitting the point of no return during Labor Day weekend. I went to a wedding, and although I had a great time, I was triggered. Lots of feelings came up in the days following.
It went like this:
Denial: Feels? What are feels?
Shock: Oh no, I’m feeling my own feels!
Bargaining: What if I only feel some of these feels?
Anger: How dare they make me feel my own feels!
Shame: I’m feeling all the feels. So many feels.
Acceptance: It’s important for me to feel all of these feels.
Watching a couple devote their lives to each other was hard. But I’m glad I went all those stages of feeling feels. What followed gave me the final push that I needed to let go completely.
Leaving a door open
My ex said that he wanted to come back to our relationship in the future a few months ago. I thought, “Okay! He needs to mature some, and grow, I’m happy to give him the time to do that.”
What I didn’t see was what was in between the lines. He still had FOMO and was following the logic of:
“Even though I miss you, I still think the grass is greener on the other side.”
After speaking to him frankly, and albeit, angrily after the wedding, I said it was probably best that we did not speak again for a while. Once I’d calmed down, I said that I had to choose what was right for me. The following day, I messaged asking clarification questions, because something was bugging me. I had a feeling that I didn’t want to ignore. I wondered why he always told me I was sad when in the last three months, I had a complete turn-around. I’ve never been prouder of my progress and willingness to share it with others. Sad and I are complete opposites. When he explained why, I thought, “Yeah okay, I get it. Well, I’m fine!”
Something was still bothering me, so I bit the bullet and asked if he still wanted to come back to our relationship in the future… I got an unexpected, but unsurprising answer of, “No.”
This is exactly why I had that feeling I didn’t want to ignore.
It was unsurprising because it wasn’t the first time he had gone back on what he’d said. This was the eighth or ninth time. I flew into a rage because I had fallen for it again. Time and time again, I was strung along, and each time I fell for it. The angry tirade that followed is the first time I’ve truly lost my cool toward him. I am one of those people that is really hard to piss off to the point of explosion. I make an effort to have a calm, measured assertive response or walk away until I do. I was blocked, and I’m totally okay with that. I said what needed to be said then called myself out on my own bullshit.
In previous posts, I had said I wanted to stay single because I wanted to have a year of happiness to myself. It wasn’t the whole truth. Complete honesty means I was still leaving a door open for my ex to come back. I had held on to a bit of hope that he would see the error of his ways, keeping me chained to an idealized version of him.
Reflecting on all the effort, work, and love I put into that relationship, it finally dawned on me. I did everything I could. When we met, I was in a bad place. My life was going nowhere, and I resigned to booze and partying because there was nothing else. My friends and I were pretty much alcoholics, and we were all fighting our own demons.
Any men that came into my life at that point usually treated me as an object. Or they’d say, “You know what, you seem like the kind of girl that a guy should marry, but I’m just trying to fuck.”
Marriage was a sensitive topic for a majority of my life. In elementary school, the other kids used to bully me saying I was too ugly to marry. My mom had even once said, “And you wonder why no man wants you,” while I was sick when I was twenty-six. She was annoyed at how messy my room was… but I was too ill to get out of bed, let alone clean! I ended up sobbing as soon as the words left her mouth. After putting me through a horrifying thing, the guy I was with during my senior year of college had also told me, “No one will want you after this.”
These things have haunted and affected my self-esteem for years. Don’t get me started on the statistics about dark-skinned black women and marriage. When my fiance dumped me without warning, it confirmed the belief that I was not good enough one more time.
I was used then discarded many times and eventually, something inside me broke. I became completely apathetic about life. Then my ex came along. He was different, pulling me out of that bad place by treating me with kindness, respect, and place. Slowly I began to trust him. Trust became love, and love grew into knowing that I would spend the rest of my life with him.
Just about every day was recorded in my journals. Each entry was about how lucky I was to have found him. How much I loved and appreciated everything about him. He inspired me to become a better person. I wrote about how I would spend each day of the rest of my life making sure he knew he was treasured. I was wise enough then to truly appreciate what I had.
As a woman that’s suffered many traumas from dating and relationships, he felt heaven sent. I knew how bad it could be and thanked the moon and stars each night for him. For many women like me, the triumph after surviving and healing from a dangerous and traumatic relationship is finding the man of your dreams and going on to live a happy life together. I believed at my core that I had found him, and I was determined not to lose him.
Shutting the door
So back to flying into a rage. I had hit my boiling point, my point of no return. The anger gave me the power to shut that door that I’d held open. Not only did the door close, it was slammed shut in fury.
Enough is enough. There’s no more hope left, and the candle in the window is extinguished. It’s time to walk away for good. Some cleansing tears came, and I felt acceptance. I was finally finished with my grieving process. I understood why he kept telling me that I was sad. It was simply projection. I’m the happiest I’ve been in a while and have been since mid-July. I have two books out, I’m focused on my upcoming goals, and I’m starting to work with other blogs and organizations. I have nothing to be sad about since I’ve relearned how to be grateful and live each day with affirmations.
I thought I would regret not trying harder. Instead, liberty came. It was then that I also understood my mistake.
There are thousands of comments on Reddit about how a guy had the girl of his dreams but was too young to see it, so he broke up with her, sabotaged a good relationship by convincing himself that he (or she) was unhappy, or pushed her away until she left. It was to sleep with more women, see if he could find someone better or get more experience, he thought he was missing out on life, or he felt like he didn’t deserve her. In almost every story, the girls after her never measured up, or he realized that sex in a committed relationship felt better (and he had trouble with finding hookups) or he just regretted it in general. They did not know that they would spend the rest of their adult lives missing her. Some stories had happy endings, where once they realized their mistake, the girl graciously took them back, and they never take her for granted again. But the vast majority end sadly, where they go to her social media, seeing that the man in her life that knew what he had.
I read so many of these threads a couple of years ago, because I wanted to properly appreciate my ex. I knew what I had when I had it. I didn’t want to chance stewing in regret years later because of simple mistakes. I did all could in our relationship to make it work. Our relationship was an elaborate dance. I was happy to keep spinning because I never got dizzy. At first, he danced in sync, but I didn’t notice that toward the end that I was dancing alone and the room was aflame.
The mistake I made was trying to prevent that from happening to my ex. But I can’t protect or prevent a person from living their life and making mistakes. That’s what life is… a series of lessons.
The door is closed and the candle is put out. I did everything possible, including trying to save him from himself. Thus, the regrets I worried I would have are nonexistent. My grieving process is over. I literally did everything I could. No ragerts.
This is the third stage of moving on with life after a relationship. No ties, no entanglements, no chances left. It’s only me embracing acceptance by finally letting go. Before, I felt that I couldn’t let go, because of how deeply and unconditionally I loved him. All I wanted was his safety and happiness, and to support and protect him in any way I could. If he’s willing to walk away from that, I should let him. I’m no longer slow-dancing alone in a burning room.
Since I hit my point of no return, I joined a matchmaking service. I meet my first match today! I’m serious about finding my person, and thankfully the Internet is helping.
I’ve said it before, I’m a once-in-a-lifetime kind of woman. This isn’t one of those conceited “you’re never gonna find anyone like me” rants. This is the knowledge imparted by my close guy friends, my father, and my brothers.
I know with my past, my recovery, and the fact that I never lost my kindness and empathy, I’m a catch. Now I no longer have a minuscule hook in my mouth. Taking the time to work on myself and heal, sharing what I’ve learned, and really falling in love with everything about myself has been the best thing I could possibly do. I have my standards, my boundaries, and finally… no ties to the past. I am ready!
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