They say the right choices are the hardest ones to make. I always thought this was just a stupid cliche until I experienced it firsthand.
I’m an unabashed Taurus, through and through. A classic bull-headed woman with too many passions, too much spirit and way too much stubbornness for my own good. When I get something into my head, I go for it whole-heartedly, and I won’t give up until it has come to fruition. I have an unhealthy need to succeed in everything that I do.
Unfortunately, this perfectionism translates to relationships too. When I decide to get involved with someone, I’m all in. I want to make my partner feel completely supported, desired, acknowledged and respected to the point where I sometimes lose my own sense of self because my target is laser-focused on them. It’s hard to care for yourself when your whole world becomes someone else, so I suffer. Quietly, always quietly. I don’t realize I’m suffering, but with every friend that I cancel on, every hobby I slowly let slip away, every time that I forego self care for the sake of my partner’s needs, I suffer. That’s not to say placing others before yourself is always a horrible trait, but everything in life is a balance and my scale tends to tip towards the side of unhealthy.
I was involved in an on-again, off-again relationship for five years. It was painfully obvious that I was suffering. My friends noticed, my family noticed, my coworkers noticed – but I was too busy chasing after that blissful feeling of absolute acceptance and love that I so craved to realize that I had become a different person. A shell. Something hollow.
Before I met this person, I lived only for myself. I loved many people, I followed many passions, I went on endless adventures and I nurtured the things that made my soul sing. I had a light inside of me and it was so brilliant that everyone around me couldn’t help but notice. When I lost my me-ness and focused only on the we-ness, that light almost went out. Five years of chasing after someone who wasn’t ready for me, layering band-aids over deep wounds and putting energy into something that was unhealthy – all because I was too stubborn to give up. The Taurus in me wouldn’t quit.
But there came a day when I woke up and realized I couldn’t do it anymore. It pains my ego to say that I wasn’t strong enough to make the decision on my own – I needed a strong catalyst to bring about the change. And the universe gave it to me. I walked into work one day as a marketing manager, and walked out two hours later unemployed. As I sat crying in my car, I took a long and challenging look at who I was as a person. I moved to a city I hated because I wanted to make my relationship work. I lived in a drastically overpriced apartment that I couldn’t afford and that never quite felt like home after my partner moved out. I was working a job that didn’t fulfill me for much less than my actual value. I was forsaking friendships for my relationship. Nothing was working, because nothing fit. I was forcing my entire life.
Once I realized that, it felt like I had finally woken up. I decided to leave immediately, and for the first time I didn’t have to second guess my decision. I knew instinctively that it was the one truth that I needed to pursue. And thus marked my decision to love myself instead.
But change is never without pain, and dear god was it painful. I cried myself to sleep almost every night. I woke up to an endless string of panic attacks. I mourned for the life I was losing, even though it was a life I never wanted. I was so invested in this relationship succeeding that leaving it felt like giving up, like in some twisted way I was a failure and this was all my fault. And maybe in some ways it was. I watched as my independence, my sense of self and ultimately my happiness slipped away. I let it happen. I opened doors so it could leave. I decided that the next door I opened would be one where I put myself first.
And then there came a day when I woke up in a different apartment, in a different city, with a different job, surrounded by different people, and I realized that I was me again. I was the person I was many years ago, before I let love destroy self love. I tended to that dim little light inside of me and I felt it shine for the first time in many years. Even though I was lonely, I knew that I was capable of being my own best friend, my own lover, my own company. I had a voice again, and it was strong. It sang softly, “You are love, you are love, you are love.”