A break up can be a long, lonely road. Especially, if one of the parties involved disagrees with the reasoning for the break-up or wishes to struggle to continue to the relationship.
Add in distance, limited capabilities to communicate, and the tricks and treats of combat zones and leading a platoon; and well — you’ve got my situation exactly.
Let me be up front and honest right now:
- I was the one who initiated the break up.
- For the most part, I am also the reason the relationship began careening irreversibly into a wall of resentment.
I know, I know, I know what you are going to say. It takes two to tango, and this is true. However, in this particular instance, I can own up to committing three key relationship “no-gos.” I violated that old wisdom that mothers and fathers and friends have been trying to impart on me for over a decade. Until now, I just couldn’t understand the consequences of doing so.
For all intensive purposes, I shall refer to my relationship as “R4.” This is because this relationship is the fourth relationship in my adult life to last more than eight months.
1. Happiness Comes From Within
Well, what seems like common sense has taken me more than ten years to realize is a base and most important truth in any relationship. I was miserable with myself prior to entering R4, and I had been for years. I was suffering from writer’s block, I had a laundry list of unresolved issues, I was unhappy with my career, I had no plan for the future, I was clueless as to where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.
I was floundering.
And, it was at the apex of this confusion, that R4 began.
At first, it was a welcome distraction. The new relationship brought on a wealth of problems and puzzles that needed solving. I rolled up my sleeves and quickly assumed responsibility for answering questions that weren’t mine to answer, taking responsibility for things that had nothing to do with me, and making a mess of most of everything I touched in the long run (let’s not even get into how big of a “no-no” it is to try to solve someone else’s problems for them).
I buried the truth of the situation in the bottoms of bottles, drinking my way through the day. I was miserable. With everything. With life in general. And it was all my fault. No one else can take responsibility for my feelings, but me. No one else can take responsibility for my successes or my failures but me. I backed myself into a corner, and allowed myself to continue to fester there.
I sought happiness from a relationship, but happiness comes from within. Relationships enhance that happiness. Relationships add another dimension to that happiness. Relationships can provide a foundation for establishing things such as a home, children, etc. However, none of this changes the base fact that first, one must seek and find one’s own individual happiness.
2. Know When To Say “NO”
I sucked at this. Reference my most recent piece on exactly this issue.
Without going into details, let’s just state a few facts: (1) Most women are not conditioned to express the word “no,” (2) A relationship between two people who both fail at saying the word “no,” will be extremely difficult if not impossible to successfully maintain, (3) There is a right way and a wrong to communicate the word “no.”
The only difference between my current experience and my experience within the context of R4; is that I’ve come to recognize my weakness in this area, and the importance of mastering this skill.
Mastering the ability to maintain a certain level of autonomy within a relationship is a skill that I feel will be the ultimate key to conquering those long-lingering fears of abandonment. In addition, this skill will emphasize my independence and reaffirm my self-worth.
At the end of the day, there has to be balance between what is given and what is received, which brings me to my third and final point.
3. Be Able to Define and Communicate Wants and Needs
I cannot emphasize the importance of being able to communicate wants and needs more.
It’s not easy. I know firsthand. Often times, we feel we want to “avoid an argument,” so we go without. However, the end result of this so-called “sacrifice” is a lack of satisfaction that can lead to further failures in communication, resentment, and frustration.
I believe wholeheartedly that until I master this (or at least become better at it), I will continue to have trouble in future relationships of all kinds.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
I need a certain level of autonomy. I need for my independence to be respected. I need to be allowed and encouraged to explore and communicate my discoveries openly and honestly.
I want a partner who wants kids. I want a partner who is as creative and creatively active as I am. I want a partner who is just as curious about life and just as actively engaged with the world around eir as I am.
It is difficult.
It is scary.
It is sometimes lonely.
But I am learning, I am grateful, and I am welcoming.