By Jenn Parker
It happened three days prior to a surf trip to EL Salvador and 110 days post the traumatic termination of an almost five year relationship. I found myself pleasantly at peace with and within myself. I realized that I was happier and had more love for myself in that moment than I had ever had before. Since I knew I would be traveling for the next week on a quest for perfect right point breaks in a new country, I didn’t want to go food shopping. I instead opted to creatively eat my way through what I already had at home for the days leading up to this highly anticipated adventure.
On that particular evening, due to a grave miscalculation of my actual food inventory, I was left with green olives stuffed with red pimentos, dill pickles, and a half bottle of pinot noir. After a mere one minute of dinner preparation, I curled up on my couch with my dark chocolate colored Labrador resting her head on my lap. An unmemorable chic flick was playing on the only English channel that I receive on my television. I relished each bite and sip of my bachelorette-style table d’hote. It was somewhere in the midst of my first glass of wine that I had the revelation that I was happier without him.
In my twenty-nine years on this beautiful planet, I cannot say that I have ever really had an epiphany. I can say now though that when you have one it stops time and all awareness of thoughts, perceptions, and environmental distractions. In that exact and seemingly random moment, I felt as if someone gently placed my heart, fully mended, back into my chest cavity. I felt complete in and of myself. I realized I’d actually got through a breakup with my ex and not only did I not die, I was a happier, newer person.
The pain of breakup
Was my transformation easy? Of course not! Over the course of four and a half years, I gave my heart, my happiness, my energy, my trust, my respect, and the entirety of myself to my ex-. Unfortunately, in the end, those things meant less to him than a one-night stand in our bed while I was home visiting my family for Christmas. Leaving him was easy in the sense that there was no way that I could have possibly stayed with him. But I fled as a broken woman, left with none of the happiness, or trust, or energy that I had lavished on him while we were building a life together.
It would take four months of emotional and at times physical mayhem for me to begin to heal. I spent many of nights in deep contemplation about our past leading up to this betrayal. Did I miss something along the way? I know that I am not perfect. I must accept the fault for my lack of actions, my lack of assertiveness, and my lack of strength. I must also accept that out of blindness I missed all of the red flags that were being waved in my face. We all make mistakes.
Of course, I also spent endless hours analyzing who I was when I was with him, who I am now that I am not with him, who I believe I am destined to be, what I want to accomplish, what makes me happy, what I ultimately envisioned my life to be (while accepting that life is clearly unpredictable), and why did I allow myself for so long to selflessly abandon myself for a selfish person. These contemplations subconsciously became the catalyst to my revelation 110 days later.
Time is the greatest healer
Let me repeat that: Time is the greatest healer. But at times, time can be a slow like molasses torture device. I put in my time. There were countless sleepless nights. I had nightmares that felt more real than when I was awake. I experienced sudden flashbacks that still to this day creep up on me every now and then. I filled a white wine prescription to ease the outbursts of rage soaked tears. And I must also not forget the “I’m not judging myself at this moment in my life” attitude…
A pertinent insight that I unearthed included the realization that for the majority of my relationship I had completely given up “me” for him.” After the first three years, his personal evolution shifted from kind, funny, generous, and loving to cold, egotistical, selfish, and self-destructive. Everything revolved around his stresses, his career, his self-perpetuating health issues, and the worst of all, his money. I let myself get lost in his world; a world I evidently didn’t belong in. I become someone who wore a façade. I become unrecognizable to myself because I was trying to be the person he “wanted” me to be. I am the only one to blame for that.
Part of my regained sense of self and happiness came from leaving his world forever, which was one of the best decisions of my life thus far. When I finally returned to my world, I ended meeting the man of my wildest dreams; a person I didn’t think existed. I met the person I wanted to completely SHARE my world with while I was in EL Salvador. It was a certainty that came almost immediately and completely unexpectedly.
The anatomy of a healthy relationship
A healthy relationship is one where you share in each other’s dreams, successes, failures, moments of joy, and times of struggle. You take care of each other equally; this is not a gender specific, one-sided role. It is unnecessary, and quite frankly detrimental, to keep score of who did what or paid for what. We should do things for each other because we love each other and want what is best for one another.
So, what do you do when you lose yourself? You start looking for yourself again. If anyone is going to find you, it is going to be you.
Take this opportunity to ask yourself the easy questions that have the hard answers. Be kind to your process. It is often not a brief one. Trust that the time you put into yourself will benefit you in more ways than you might imagine. Strength is born from weakness. Happiness thrives on the defeat of challenges. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we inadvertently allow ourselves to evolve. You will drop all of the pieces more than once, but the pieces will always be there to put back together in an even better configuration.
About the Author
Jenn Parker is a native Floridian, but now calls Costa Rica home. Jenn is a passionate writer, surfer, yogi, and wanderlust-fueled world traveler. She believes that we are each responsible for our own evolution and happiness, but can motive and inspire one another. Jenn holds a master’s degree from Nova Southeastern University.