We had known each other for eight long years - it was only after three of those that we had decided to take our friendship in another direction. It was all so perfect - we never had fights, we were always together, our families were connecting, everything was good - that I never really imagined that something would go wrong.
From the very beginning, I had made up my mind about wanting to marry him. I was always the one-man-woman kinda girl, and there was a perfect scenario in my head about the day he was going to propose to me. I was so blindly in love that I didn’t see the fundamental problems we had, and was pretty much oblivious to the little things that were not seeming right. What I didn’t realize for a long time was that deep down these things were eating me up slowly.
I finally started noticing that I was being taken for granted. The relationship felt like a drag at times, almost like we had to do things together because of the label we had put on it, not really because we wanted to. The things I expected of my partner - I was not getting them. But I decided to keep giving it my hundred per cent. We kept talking every day, as if everything was normal and perfectly fine. But it wasn’t.
Knowing that we were failing as partners was making me question myself - even though it was the relationship that was failing, not he or me. Given all the niggling doubts in my mind, I became more and more certain that I needed to tell him that we are not going in the same direction, that the relationship was heading downwards. When I did finally talk to him, I didn’t think that the conversation was going to be like this...
It was pouring heavily that day. We’d had a fight. I decided to call him and tell him that I needed for him to understand my feelings, that he needed to reciprocate my efforts. What I really wanted was for him to say that things would work out, that he understood, he would help us get through this. But he didn’t. He said instead that we should just end things, that this wasn't working out for him. After 5 years of being together, that was all he had to say.
The pain was excruciating. As the rain poured around me, I poured my heart out into tears. I told my parents I wasn’t feeling well and locked myself up in my room, with only my dog to give me comfort. Once I stopped crying, a dreadful week followed - with me sending long text messages to him about how we needed to fix things. All I got in return was a text message saying: “I am sorry!”
That’s when I decided that my happiness was in my hands. I had given up on my own happiness in the quest for happiness for “us” - it was time for me to be selfish. I decided to put on a smile and move on.
At first, that smile was just a pretence, since my heart was still breaking. But over time, smiling became a habit. And I regained my faith that there was definitely something better for my soul out there.
I had quit my job recently to go study some more. And I like to believe that it was my optimistic attitude about how this was for the best that made me attract some great opportunities. Steering clear of anything that could have held me back, I finally went abroad to do a challenging design course, something that I had been running away from because of my “confidence” levels.
That, my friends, was a game changer. I met him one last time and said goodbye, and I still remember what he said: “Don’t change yourself for anybody else, this is what you have been wanting to do forever, not everyone gets this opportunity, so give it all, you deserve much more.” His words ringing in my ears, I boarded my flight with this weird feeling of nervousness and excitement mixed together.
Those few months abroad was perhaps the best time I’ve spent with myself. Not only was I getting to know a new country, but also getting to know myself, understanding what I wanted out of life. I did things that made me happy. I used to roam the streets on my own, taking pictures of things that made me wonder and think. I would be out the whole day, just exploring what every place I visited had to offer, sitting in bars and cafes, enjoying my glass of Prosecco, hanging out with people from 20 different countries.
Every single day, I woke up with a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I decided to step outside in the world in my best avatar. Dressed up nicely, putting on my favourite lipstick and listening to my favourite songs, I decided to take control of my life. And I actually managed to do it! Nobody knew anything about the whirlwind of chaos inside of me... And that whirlwind slowly disappeared and was replaced by the need for me to prove myself to myself.
I had been looking forward to this escapade pretty much all of my life, and to do this without any baggage was the best part. Till today, I am deeply grateful to my ex-boyfriend for making it so easy for me. Not only did I find myself but I also found someone else on that journey who truly appreciates me for who I am, and today it is this man who makes me smile each and every day.
We are what we are because of someone else’s impressions on us. We evolve with every person we encounter. What if we look at each failed relationship as a lucky chance that we have been presented with, as an ingredient to build ourselves? I did - and for that I am happy.