Even with a strong sense of self-awareness, relationships can be tricky and confusing. Self-awareness was a new concept for me when "X" entered my life. I was six months sober and I’d never felt more present. For the first time, I had quit numbing, and began exploring, discovering, and healing. I was healthier than I’d ever been, and even with room to grow, I felt ready for a relationship. I’d fallen in love with myself and my life; and because I had more to offer now, I finally felt worth loving .
"X" was my long-time crush. A spiritual, loving, and successful man that I’d long looked up to, but never thought I’d have the opportunity to love. I wasn’t good enough for him, I thought. Despite my flaws, he embraced me like no one ever had.
There lie my unhealthy belief system that I hadn’t identified.
“I wasn’t good enough.”
Witnessing my life through a new iridescent sober lens, every day was painted in beautiful light and though I was stronger and happier, deep down I was still ashamed of the mess I was cleaning up. The beauty of my new world had masked my unhealthy belief system. So though I was unknowingly unready, there I went, sure I knew my worth, and secretly hoping for validation.
No surprise then that eventually I projected my unworthiness in our relationship. I’d tuck my tail between my legs when I’d done nothing wrong. I’d apologize for my favorite parts of myself, and give him permission to be blamed.
And so over the course of our year together, I began to realize that I was willing to sacrifice just about anything in the name of love, even my newfound relationship with myself.
I didn’t greet people the same. I was looking at the floor more, my smile was fading, deep-sighing as I worked. I was crying more than I should’ve. I was sacrificing my friendships, avoiding my favorite restaurants, and refraining from telling people I loved them all in the name of earning worthiness.
I became more ashamed than I’d ever been. Some because of my past, but mostly because I was closer than ever to who I’d wanted to be and I was willingly chipping myself away. Still, I stayed for a handful of reasons.
“I wanted to believe that I was good enough to be loved.”
“I loved him, and I was committed to patiently loving him until he came around.”
“I knew he was hurting emotionally and I wanted to support him.”
“I felt strong enough to take it.”
“I promised I would.”
If you’re in a similar relationship, I know only you can convince yourself to walk away. If I could offer one suggestion, “Trust your gut.”
When the occurrences of shame began in our relationship, I felt strong, and so the instances didn’t feel like a big deal. I knew they were wrong, but I felt like they were issues I could weather because I was mentally and emotionally in the best shape I’d ever been.
Of course, relationships have a way of revealing our deepest weaknesses; mine being feelings of not being enough. A vast majority of my life I was a striving perfectionist seeking outward approval instead of giving it to myself.
I thought I’d outgrown those feelings in my six months of being sober. Instead, my lingering areas in need of healing surfaced in my relationship. Exposed, ignored, and jabbed, my wounds began to fester.
It was a never-ending cycle. I’d think we were getting better, and after a few days, scabs would be ripped, deeper cuts would be made, and I’d watch my mental and emotional health deteriorate. I started to realize I was dying inside: hushed, hurt, and without the love I was desperately hoping to receive.
I remember walking down the street on the phone with my best friend when I received a sunken message in my stomach. "X" and I were about to break up. We were on a streak of a few good days, but I’d prayed for an answer to whether we were right for each other, and my gut told me no.
Still, I was resolute on not taking action without reason. If our relationship was going to end, something serious would have to take place. And then the next morning came. We had a disagreement about me sharing my sobriety story and my gut intuition came rushing back. It was an intuition I’d chosen to ignore many times prior, disregarding it as minor doubts in the face of hardship.
But this was more than a doubt, it was a knowing. A knowing that I was dying inside. I was erasing my individuality, and molding myself more into the person I felt he needed me to be. I was consciously dimming my light and allowing myself to become unscrewed, agreeing to work in the light of flickering hope.
If you too, are afraid in the dark, I’d like to remind you that you ARE the light. People can change, they can switch, but if we’re an unhinged bulb, if we’re unplugged, we won’t work. We can’t provide light to anyone.
If we choose to disconnect from our intuition, we’re reaching in the dark without the guidance that often provides us the answers to all things.
Of course, this doesn’t happen without purpose. The more I sacrificed who I was, the more I realized that I had healing to do, the more my personal wounds were exposed. In fact, I was not as in love with myself as I thought. I still had much work to do in the self-love department, and I wasn’t going to be able to experience the kind of love I wanted to feel until I truly felt it for myself, without guilt, shame, or blame.
"X" was my best friend and supported me in an important period of self-discovery even in moments it seemed like he wasn’t. For if he’d not been there to reveal these truths to me, I wouldn’t have realized how much work I had left to do.
Ending our relationship was one of the hardest things I’d ever had to do. I genuinely know that both of us loved each other, despite our difficulties. But our relationship had run its course. No matter how beautiful they are, some people are introduced into our lives with the Universal intention of only remaining for a time. Strictly to serve the purpose of supporting the evolution of our soul.
That’s who "X" was for me. He was Divine Guidance. He was my lesson. My instruction to love myself first. To show myself the love I wanted to recieve, and to listen to my gut when it gives me direction.
He taught me that remaining places I don’t belong is a disservice to myself, those directly involved, and the rest of the Universe. When I gave myself permission to exit, I gave both of us an opportunity for immense growth, and now we can be better versions of ourselves for the rest of the world.
Before, I was depriving us of the opportunity to shine to our fullest potential. And so in listening to our intuition and saying words like, “No”, “Enough”, and “Goodbye”, we are doing others a service. It creates an opportunity for everyone.
It’s our responsibility to support each other in that way. And so when you’re ready, and you’ve learned the lesson you need to learn, listen to your gut. Walk away from the table gracefully when love is no longer being served, because it’s what we ALL deserve.
It will be painful. I felt like I was losing my breath as I said goodbye, followed by a knot that immediately unraveled in my stomach. That is the assurance we are blessed with when we listen to our gut. And reflecting on it all, I recognize how necessary and beautiful "X" was for me. Because of him, I’m more plugged in now, and I discovered the parts of myself I love most. The parts of myself that makeup my identity and cannot sacrifice.
He was a direct reflection of how I needed to heal: a mirror. If you are sharing in a similar experience, I urge you to search for the false belief system you are there to unlearn. Find the work you’re meant to do, and then give yourself permission to love yourself in the way that you haven’t been.
As you progress and come to realizations, remember that by walking away, you aren’t letting them down. You’re helping everyone, whether they realize it or not. It is not your responsibility to be strong enough to bear their burdens. It is your responsibility to allow them to learn to free themselves of what’s weighing them down. You are not wrong for breaking your promise to stay when the Universe is asking you to leave. You are right for getting out of the way.
You will have another opportunity to honor your commitment to love. And next time, it can be with someone who honors you the way you honor your commitments. Commit to yourself first and it will set the expectation for the love you want and the love you deserve.
It’s difficult in the midst of a troubling relationship, but when you know it’s time, I urge you to walk away. It may feel impossible, but coming from someone who can relate, know that you can do it. Know that you’re stronger and wiser than you give yourself credit for. That every answer will be revealed to you if only you listen to your gut.
It’s your superpower. And you ARE super.