Breakup or divorce is a time for self-reflection, exploration and change.
Oftentimes, we learn so much about who we are and what we want when things begin to fall apart. For many of us, a breakup will be a catalyst for change.
Recently, I observed that I sometimes uncover more about myself from new beginnings than I do from endings. I feel alone in this, but I know that I cannot be the only one to find myself uncovering deep truths about myself when I’m at the beginning of a potential relationship.
In that phase of anticipation and uncertainty—when we’re just discovering a new interest and forming feelings of attachment, however much we’d like to stay unattached—we can quickly discover the scar tissue left by our past relationships.
At the beginning of what could be a friendship or new relationship, I found myself drowning in insecurities. Mired in fear and worry, I realized that beneath the excitement and chemistry and hope and anticipation, there was the scar tissue of a damaged belief system.
If I am 100 percent honest with myself, I have always believed that there isn’t a perfect match for me. I’ve never believed in fairytale happy endings. I’ve always secretly doubted whether anyone could love me as much as I love them.
But then, at 19, so young and insecure and lonely, I met someone.
I thought that maybe I was wrong, so I took all of my love and trust and devotion, and I gave it away. While that relationship lasted over a decade, I spent most of my time alone in it. I found myself slowly disappearing.
Eventually, I actually woke myself up and started over, this time as a single mom in my 30s. I created a new life—one that I love. I live in gratitude, and I love myself. Yet when I feel that hope of a new relationship begin to flutter, I also awaken all of my demons.
The doubt that anyone will ever see me as anything but a complication.
The fear that I will never know what it is to be loved back as strongly as I love.
The worry that finding someone who will stay with me is not in the cards.
All of it rises up, this dark tide of pain, and it floods my soul. And all of my confidence and security and happiness flattens against this core of unworthiness that I didn’t even know was in there.
It’s completely possible to know our own value on one level and yet doubt it completely on another. Sometimes we avoid the dark tides of feelings that rise within us, and we don’t take the time to find out where they’re coming from or what’s driving them. So maybe we pour ourselves another glass of wine or turn the music up a little louder. Perhaps we spend a night catching up on the DVR or we look for any distraction to pass the time until that dark wave recedes.
We don’t see that we’ve told ourselves these ugly stories. Perhaps we simply avoid looking at our scars close enough to see that some of them are open wounds that we’re not allowing to heal.
To uproot that feeling that we’re not worthy, we have to look closer. We have to delve deep into that thought process and start to take it apart. Feeling unworthy is insidious, and it eats away at these beautiful lives we’re building. Of course past relationships have left us wrecked. We come out of them stronger for having been broken, but there are always lasting effects when something changes us so completely.
When I realized that I was holding onto this core of unworthiness—this ridiculous idea that there could never be anyone to truly love me—I realized that there was more wreckage and true damage from my past than I had realized. Still, I don’t consider myself a broken person. I know that healing myself will make me stronger.
How am I healing myself? I’m going to do the thing that scares me.
I’m going to let myself explore the possibilities of a romantic entanglement that I didn’t expect. I’m going to let myself daydream and hope and anticipate, because that is a wonderful part of being human. I’m going to allow my heart time to accept that I will feel fear and worry and uncertainty because my past has taught me to do so. I’m going to learn that it’s still okay to love and trust again. And again. And again.
Yes, many people have happy, full single lives. Not everyone has a strong relationship. However much we love ourselves, I think it’s perfectly natural to still want to feel the fullness of a love with someone else. The type of love where each person, whole in themselves, adds a richness to the life of the other.
I don’t believe we’re not finding what we’re seeking because we have all this work we need to do. I don’t think the universe is withholding our perfect match until we complete our singles’ homework. Rather, I think we need to uproot the unworthy feelings not to find a partner, but because we deserve to feel worthy. We need to trace our insecurities to the source and heal that pain, because we deserve happiness. We need to keep being vulnerable, going against that survival instinct, because it’s the only way to live deep, authentic lives.
We can use new beginnings as well as endings as opportunities to understand how our thoughts shape our lives. How many of us have practiced self-sabotage because of this secret feeling that we don’t deserve to be happy? Isn’t it easy to trip ourselves up by letting all of those insecurities out to play, creating chaos in new relationships simply because we don’t know how to ask for what we need? Or perhaps we hold on too tight, because we don’t trust things to ever work out in our favor.
It’s time to stop self-sabotaging what we have now because of what we fear may come to pass. It’s time to take a hard look at those insecurities and see which old wounds haven’t yet healed. It’s time to allow good things to happen, because we deserve them.
It’s time to acknowledge our fears, heal our wounds, trust in our own happiness and accept that we cannot control our lives. We can only live them. And that’s enough. It’s enough to live our lives, doing the best we can.
It’s enough to love and trust without knowing the outcome, allowing the possibilities to enchant us rather than letting our fears enslave us.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Toby Israel