If you know me, you know that I'm very, very open to all kinds of self help and exploration, and have dabbled in just about everything. I think it feeds my curious soul, intellectual need to dig in, and also my somewhat perfectionistic tendencies [which I am working on!]. So. Lately this is manifesting itself in seeing a life coach, whom I actually really love! More on that another time.
In a recent discussion, she suggested that I change the tune about my break-up by focusing on my gratitudes for the relationship and what I can say I've learned and gained from the experience. She says, and I agree, that all relationships are put into our lives for a reason, so while this one didn't end up being the end all, be all, there is certainly much to gain from the experience.
Here are the things that I gained:
1. The confidence to try new things and put myself out there
If there is one thing my ex is great at, it is just going with it - meeting new people, going to all kinds of events with or without company, he's pretty much down to try anything. I've always been much more reserved and nervous about making myself feel vulnerable in new situations, but he inspired me to get out there and try, to not be afraid to make a connection with a stranger or do something that is out of my comfort zone. And the more I try, the more I see it's not such a scary world after all.
2. New musical interests
Music was a huge part of our relationship, and we both have a lot in common in terms of musical preferences. However, I can easily say that dating introduced me to some of my favorite artists and podcasts. Especially Daft Punk!
3. A boost towards greater self-love- and the start of a journey
When we were together, I felt better about myself than I had in a long time- I think because I started to see myself the way that he saw me. I'm now striving to see myself that way without needing outside validation, but I really believe that he boosted me into feeling like more of a beautiful, interesting, and impressive person than I had felt before. And while it was incredibly difficult, our break-up catapulted a lot of self learning, and a lot of really important exploration for me. I don't know if I would have ever found such important resilience, spiritual growth, and tools to cultivate self love. I'm still learning and growing, but in ways I couldn't have imagined on my own.
4. The knowledge I have the capacity to really, truly love - and go the distance for it.
I had ended all of my previous serious relationships, because after a while, I realized the love wasn't lasting or there for me anymore- but often only after quite a long time of trying to force it and/or beating myself up. I was really hard on myself for walking away from great guys, and thought there was something wrong with me - that maybe I'd never fully be able to feel the kind of love that doesn't waiver. I was pretty young and naive at that time, with a lot of self struggle to overcome, but I definitely learned in this situation what real love feels like, and how I want to feel [and THEN SOME!] with the person I end up with. Love takes work, you have to really be willing to give it your all, and now I know that I can.
5. Love for Los Angeles and some wonderful memories
Not much color commentary to add here- my visits to LA were some of my favorite, I'll always look back on them fondly. I built a bond with a city I didn't think I'd ever really care for.
6. A tough, but important lesson that [to get all Above and Beyond-y on you], love is not enough sometimes.
I have always been under the single-minded belief that love conquers all, is the most important thing, etc. etc. And while I still very much believe in the power of love (what up, Celine?), I now know that that emotional connection isn't a fix all. It doesn't mean that fundamental issues like not wanting the same things in life will magically fade away. It doesn't change a person, fundamentally. It isn't as easy as love at first sight-- though it certainly can be, when it's the right person.
7. Incredible depth of friendship [& how important that is to me]
One of the areas where my ex and I really differ is in depth of friendship -- he has many, many friends and tries to spend his time equally, I tend to stick more to my core group of friends and value building deeper emotional connections and shared memories. In reflecting on this, I've learned just how important and how satisfying these relationships are in my life. Also, I can't say enough how floored I was and continue to be by the incredible love and support friends and family have shown me through this challenge. I am so, so lucky, and the depths of my friendships continue to grow, even more so because of this experience. I love you all!!
8. That it's important to set personal boundaries, and stand up for ME.
As women, I think we've all heard the old adage that men like to do the chasing, that we should be laid back and act aloof and let them come around to realizing how much they need us in their lives. FUCK. THAT. Honestly, I can and probably will write a diatribe about this ridiculous school of thought, holding women back from being themselves and feeling that they can express their needs. But I'll save that for later. What I can say is that - the entire time that I was with my ex, he refused to call me his girlfriend. And I wasn't okay with that, but I made myself be okay with it. I figured that as long as he was good to me and played the part, the words didn't matter and would come in time. I now know that it's incredibly important to set boundaries and to express my needs. It may not have kept him around for longer, but I would have wasted a lot less time on a person who wasn't willing to meet me halfway. Today, I value and respect ME, and trust myself to set boundaries and listen to my heart.