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Because breaking up is hard to do, read: Maintaining an Open Heart During a Break Up.
And because staying together isn’t easy either, read: 4 Tips for maintaining a Conscious Relationship.
I sat in silence on the ski lift and felt the tears begin to well up beneath my goggles.
In that moment, in the beautiful mountains, next to my boyfriend, I knew.
I knew I needed out of the relationship. I knew what I knew since we started dating a few years prior, but this time I knew I was brave enough to finally leave.
My ex-boyfriend, who I’ll call Mark, swept me off my feet when I first met him. He was handsome, five years older, charming, and the life of the party. Everyone seemed to want to be around him, and I found myself wanting the same thing.
Our relationship was a rollercoaster that never stopped over the years we were together. When we were good, we were good, and when we were bad, we were really bad. The high highs seemed to make the low lows worth sticking around for.
The little voice inside me would rise up over the years. But then my fear of leaving, being alone, or that I was the “crazy” would push down my intuition, leaving me lonely in my relationship.
It shouldn’t be this hard. Well, relationships take work.
I need to move out. Well, I just moved in. It’ll be fine, and I don’t want to move again.
He’s lying. That drug bag was his. Well, maybe it was his friend’s like he said.
He didn’t come home last night. He’s cheating. Well, maybe he did fall asleep at his friend’s house.
He smells like dip. He’s doing it behind my back again. Well, maybe I’m the crazy one?
Something feels weird with his finances. Well, maybe he’s right and I shouldn’t keep bringing it up.
A few months before the ski lift incident, I left my comfortable teaching job of seven years. I loved teaching, but I knew it was time to pursue my holistic nutrition business, WBH Nutrition Co., full time. Like any entrepreneur, networking was essential to growing my business in the early stages. I found myself on several coffee meetings a day from summer through fall with other small business owners, talking about their creative processes, how they got to where they were, and engaging in deep, meaningful conversations.
I am a feeler. Sometimes I wonder if life would be easier if I could stay on the surface, but I am one of those people who cannot listen to a song without analyzing the lyrics, feels the energy of other people the second I walk into a room, and needs to process all of my thoughts and feelings through conversation. It doesn’t make me better or worse than anyone—it’s just me.
After teaching for as long as I did, to then leave to pursue my business full time, I felt what most entrepreneurs have felt along with their journey: imposter syndrome.
I wondered, Who am I to charge this for my services? Will anyone show up at my speaking event? Maybe this business idea was dumb and I should find a job.
I remember coming back to the house where we lived one day, desperate to process these feelings.
But early into our relationship, I realized if I need to talk about how I felt, Mark was not the person to go to. I would express my desire to connect on a deeper, more vulnerable level, but then was either told I was being too emotional or given an empty promise that he would try to have those hard conversations with me and would open up. I often wondered if I was putting too much pressure on my partner to be my “everything” and that perhaps when it came to the real, hard, conversations, I was better off calling a girlfriend.
That December, I started to really feel something was off with Mark. I had been spending my days connecting with different, diverse, smart, interesting, and deep people through my networking efforts. I realized how much I needed and craved connection. I began to feel that if Mark couldn’t understand me on an emotional level, I was in for a long life and a long relationship.
One day, I had one of those hard days as a business owner when my imposter syndrome was really kicking in. I felt unworthy of working for myself and struggled with my overall sense of worth as a business owner.
While Mark struggled to connect emotionally, I never felt and still do not feel he is a terrible person. He simply didn’t get me, and perhaps I didn’t get him either.
While I was having doubts about the longevity of life with Mark, I wasn’t ready to leave yet; I wanted it to work. So much about him and us was so great. How could I not try?
I decided I would open up about my feelings in an attempt and hope that he would empathize and hash things out with me. I came home and sat in his office, our black lab running about, and asked, “Hey, can I talk to you?” I remember feeling nervous. Nervous to open up to my boyfriend about what was going on inside, nervous for his response, nervous that I was being silly or stupid for feeling how I was.
I did my best to explain, “I’m feeling unworthy. I’m struggling. I’m wondering who I think I am to be running my own business.”
He paused. Looked at me with confusion. “Why? I don’t get it? You have a good family. You have good friends. You’re making more money now than you were teaching. What are you talking about? I need to get back to work.”
A few days later, we went up to the mountains for a couples ski trip. The details of the weekend are far and few in between, but it was a typical weekend for us, full of behaviors and fights we had over the years.
During the weekend, I felt and experienced things that I was far too familiar with. Being left to drive up to the mountains alone. Left so he could go get drunk with his friends while I went home and slept in bed alone. Blow-up fights that should’ve been simple miscommunications.
Skiing, being around as many people as possible, and partying were the priority for Mark throughout our relationship. All I wanted was someone where coming home after a bar together was enough—they didn’t need to keep going. I needed someone who could spend car rides and chairlift rides with me talking about our fears, hopes, dreams, and failures. I needed someone who lifted me up and didn’t put me down.
I woke up in bed at four in the morning the next day, Sunday. I sat there feeling numb, asking God for a sign if I should stay or go.
A few hours later on the ski lift, I got my sign on yet another silent chairlift ride. I felt alone and knew I didn’t want to have a relationship where I would have to sit in silence. I’ve found being lonely in a relationship is far more painful than truly being alone.
Mark stayed in the mountains skiing until Tuesday while I stayed at our place in Denver. Over those few days in solitude, my intuition rose up, strong and loud.
Georgia, what if you are not only worthy of being a business owner, but what if you are also worthy of being in a relationship where you are seen, understood, and a priority? You took the leap to leave your comfortable job, and you’re succeeding. What would happen if you took the risk to leave this relationship? What kind of life and love could you have?
He came home happy, chipper, and excited to see me. He knew to greet me with enthusiasm after times he had upset me.
As he walked in the door of our house, I looked at him and bluntly and said, “I can’t stay with you.” I explained how I had been on the “Mark rollercoaster” far too long, and now I was finally getting off. I sobbed how he also deserved someone who was running down the aisle to marry him—not someone who had doubts about him.
This was the beginning of the destruction of life as I knew it. But it was also the beginning of a new, more authentic life where I finally stepped into my worth and power.
The weeks and months to follow are truly a blur. Parts of me did not even know why I was leaving. I wondered if I was insane for ending our relationship based on a feeling.
However, months later, all was revealed and the truth rose to the surface. My suspicions about his lies and cheating were confirmed by him and others. The feeling that something was off was right the whole time. I shifted into gratitude for leaving based on a feeling rather than doubting myself.
Here’s what I know:
Things get better with time.
Moving out isn’t all that big of a deal when it’s all said and done.
Ask for help.
See a therapist.
Lean on family and friends to get you through.
You’ll look back and be glad you left.
Take a break from drinking to allow yourself to feel every part of the process.
Lie on the ground when you don’t know what else to do.
Know that getting out of bed and brushing your teeth is a success.
You’ll love again—but give yourself time to be truly alone.
Take baths—lots of them.
Keep a journal.
Read lots of books.
Rewatch all of “Sex and the City.”
Know that you’re going to be okay and you are stronger than you think.
Most importantly, know your worth and trust yourself. Your gut is never wrong.
“In her heart
she set fire to all things
that held her back
and from the ashes
into who she always was” ~ Atticus