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I woke up in the middle of the night, sweating and panting, as if I had been sprinting. My eyes welled up, my heart raced faster than a Harley Davidson. It was that night that I realised how the problems in my relationship were affecting me. They were enough to jolt me out of any kind of slumber.
The honeymoon phase of our relationship had come to an abrupt close and things had been rather bumpy for the past few months. I used to cry quite often, hurt by the fact that my boyfriend had changed and it felt like he no longer cared for me like he once did. The conversations would turn into arguments about how we had constantly failed to meet each other’s expectations.
Every relationship goes through a transition period wherein we learn about our partners - their flaws, included. It’s when two people are put to the real test. And that’s when we actually realised how much we hadn’t accepted each other. I had wanted things to work out so badly that I had changed myself and, in the process, begun to have unreal expectations of my boyfriend, as well. I decided to keep at this relationship; even if it meant endless nights of crying myself to sleep because I didn’t feel like myself anymore. The fact that I had glamorously imagined my future with him, only made things worse because, somewhere, I had begun to mold myself into whom I thought my boyfriend would want to marry; never mind if that was not the reality.
So, when I woke up feeling flustered that night, I realised that I had to take a call on whether I was going to change myself and be unhappy - just because I wanted to be in a relationship - or be content with the real me and prepare myself for whatever would happen. It also meant putting my relationship to the ultimate test of seeing whether or not we would make it.
I began by chalking out a list of pros and cons of my relationship. And to be honest, both sides were equal. What do you do when you know someone is flawed, and that you can’t change them but that you still want to try to co-exist? You realise you actually want this person in your life. I did mentally curse my boyfriend for a long time, thinking about the countless number of days he had made me cry and let me down - and then, thinking about the days he had also made me feel alive and happy.
And then, as I heaved a deep sigh, as if my emotions had finally exhausted me, I looked up at this bright yellow and purple poster, that had been hanging on my wall since forever. The poster said, ‘WILD & FREE’. I remembered that I’d bought it because it really resonated with me back in the day when I used to be myself. I had always had an exhilarating life earlier - with ambitions, work projects, deadlines, and a gazillion friends, given how social I was. And now, I was no longer all that. That person seemed like a stranger to me now. Ever since I had met my boyfriend, for some reason, I had slowly stopped doing all the things I had once loved doing. I had turned into someone who waited around for validation from my boyfriend - when he would call, text or make a plan to meet. And when he didn’t, I waited around, feeling unloved and depressed. I had given up my sense of self and it was not a good feeling, the fact that I had linked my self-worth to another person. In that moment, I realised that, as much as someone may love you, they cannot live your life for you. So there I sat wondering, how I ever managed to stop loving myself. How could I expect someone to love me when I didn’t love myself?
Seeing those words on that poster was a lot like my guardian angels calling out to me, urging me to listen and follow the words that hung on my wall. It was the wake up call I needed. And so, I decided to take that advice. In the days that followed, I made a conscious effort to invest in myself again, doing all the things that I loved and enjoyed. I met people I had been avoiding for so long, only because I was making time for someone else. I began to observe how things started changing. I started developing a sense of self-esteem that had nothing to do with anyone else. This translated into me falling in love with myself, all over again. And when I started loving myself, I stopped the self-sabotaging behaviour I had been feeding on, just to sustain some level of a relationship. I began to invest in my own well being, doing all that it takes to keep myself happy. When my boyfriend started seeing the differences in me, he fell in love with me all over again.
And so, I learnt the difference between holding on for someone else and letting go for oneself. Most of the times it is not about it being black and white, or right and wrong. But, that doesn’t mean the answer has to be complicated. The simplest rule to live your life by is to never lose yourself while loving someone else. It is rightly said that love in any relationship, first and foremost, stems from one’s self. Think about it. Before changing yourself in a relationship and becoming someone you no longer resonate with, re-examine your relationship with yourself. You’d be surprised at the stark difference between the person you truly are and the person you become. Work on yourself; but, don’t consider changing for someone else. They probably fell in love with the real you; not the changed version of ‘you’. When you heal yourself and love yourself, everything in life falls into place; even love.
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