Everyone has those moments. You know, the ones you can pinpoint as: “this is where stuff changed”. In the “Turning Points”-series, I’m reflecting on some of the big ones in my life. And while I’ve always made it a point not to talk too much about things like my relationships and family and personal life, apart from the obvious? There’s definitely a couple of big twists and turns in my life that I never saw coming. And, quite honestly, that 100% made me into who (and what) I am today. And as for those turning points – the break-up is definitely one of those.
Fairy tale dreams
I’ve always been one of those girls that dreamed of romance. From my earliest reading days, romance was one of my prefered genres. Honestly? I was probably too hung up on them. And not all of that was just me – there was definitely an atmosphere of “you need someone to like you to be likeable”.
To give you some background: I was not a popular kid. I was bullied for quite a bit of primary school and secondary school (more on that in another Turning Points? Maybe?), so when I say books were always my escape – I mean that literally.
Where other kids had boyfriends and girlfriends in kindergarten, I had none. When a girl from my class had her first kiss when we were 11 (“did you hear? Apparently you could see the spit. It’s so cool!) I spent my time dreaming of the scenarios I read about.
Come the first years of high school, I was a) mistaken for a boy; b) still picked on quite often; c) asked by one of my friends if I was gay (“because it’s totally fine if you are, you know“). I mean, it would’ve been fine – only I wasn’t. I just assumed nobody would like me like that. It took me until my last year of high school to actually tell anyone I liked them – it didn’t end well, and that was that for me actually daring to go beyond just the classic fairy tale dreams.After years upon years of being either actively disliked, or just not actively liked, someone chose me. And that turned out to be a dangerous thing. Click To Tweet
I got my first boyfriend and first kiss all within the same day, the summer after I graduated from high school. Again – my baseline assumption was “nobody would like me like that”, and largely, I’d always been proven right. Self-fulfilling prophecy probably has something to do with that as well, but still: I had grown accustomed to that notion.
In all honesty? That’s probably – for me, at least – the worst possible place to be at when you start dating someone. Why? Well…
Here are some things you probably shouldn’t feel when in a relationship:
- That you have to be a certain person
- That you have to be a specific aspect of yourself and that specific aspect only
- That your relationship is wrong
- That your relationship is something to be embarrassed about
- That you have to defend the other person constantly
- Complete apathy towards the other person
- That the way you want to act in a relationship is deemed “wrong” by the other person
- That you or your relationship is immoral
- That you are inherently insufficient
- That this is the best you deserve
At one point or another, I felt all of those things during my first relationship. And in many ways, I was very typical.
As I said, this was my first relationship. In other words: after years upon years of being either actively disliked, or just not actively liked, someone chose me. And for me, that turned out to be a dangerous thing. After all, it wasn’t a difficult thing to go from “the first time being chosen” to “the only person who will chose me”. Which meant that, when I kinda maybe who knows wanted to break up after a couple of weeks? And again after a couple of months? Then somewhere during the second year? And then again just before we hit the three-year-mark? I didn’t go through with it.
I preferred to stay in that relationship – even if it didn’t make me (particularly) happy – because it seemed better than the alternative. Which was, of course, to be even more clearly “unwantable” to the world than I already was.
But why break up?
… is the question the other person asked me.
And the answer was that – eventually, after three years – I realised that I’d rather be alone than unhappy with someone.
I was 21, and for the first time I dared to look beyond just the romantic dreams I’d had since I was 7. I acknowledged that I’d completely changed and twisted all my goals and dreams to fit into what I thought the other person needed from me – and quite frankly, I didn’t like the person I’d become in doing so.
Mind you: I’m in no way saying that any of this was the other person’s fault. However, I can admit that the combination of me and them? It just wasn’t one that was working – that ever had worked, if I’m completely honest. I honestly don’t think I was any better for them than they were for me – and that was probably what really settled it for me.I realised that I'd rather be alone than unhappy with someone. Click To Tweet
I hope it’s clear, by now, that the break-up itself wasn’t the turning point. Rather, it was the fact that I actually went through with it. That I realised I’d rather let go of a 14-year-old dream than be unhappy to get it. And of course: that I chose to choose myself. I didn’t really do that a lot, at least not in big ways, like that.
And as a fun post scriptum: the other person? They were really mad at me for a long while – there was a fair bit of drama, and texts every time I figured they’d finally leave it be. And then, about a year and a half after we’d broken up? They wrote me an e-mail to say thank you. And while I was mainly happy they’d finally let go of it? I was also just happy that, like me, they’d come to find themselves again.