We’ve all had that relationship that didn’t quite feel right. Maybe he came on too strong or she was too clingy. Perhaps he couldn’t treat you to dinner or she couldn’t make enough time for you. Maybe that thing was completely unidentifiable: it was just off. Or it’s possible that the relationship was a painful game of Dodge Ball and you just needed to avoid another blow. Whatever your logical reason or guttural instinct, a breakup is one of the most harrowing, shocking adversaries your psyche will ever meet. Where before there was a perceived fullness and richness to life, now there is emptiness. Even if you traded toxicity and baggage for a new start, your freedom feels forsaken and tortuous. I’ve been there. I bet you have too. Maybe you’re there now. It could be that the relationship you need to un-choose is a professional one, or a harmful friendship, or even dear old Dad. Your actions don’t have to be permanent. Hell, you can choose You by simply choosing not to engage with someone. Just for today, make a decision towards your highest good. Today, I will breakup with whatever is interfering with my happiness, and I invite you to join me.
Resolving to make one’s own needs a priority has been negatively popularized as being selfish. I vehemently disagree. Much of the pain I’ve experienced has been a result of putting others’ needs before my own. Some of my worst moments of abandonment passed by my own hand. I stayed quiet, I blended into my environment, and I let the unpredictable nature of the wind be the master of my fate. Breakups- however unskilled, messy, or tragic- have helped me evolve from a spectator of life to a participating player. Slowly but surely, I found my voice and intercepted the fear of living unapologetically. I never knew what people meant when they said to “follow your instincts,” but now I know. I was just too cut off from my own spirit to recognize when something wasn’t right. Today, listening and acting upon my instincts is a measure of good health. I am responsible for my own happiness.
But it hasn’t always been that way. It never occurred to me to look within to find happiness. I relied on alcohol, men, food, and money to refill my happiness tank. And unlike today, where happiness is a deep breath, an act of service, or a gratitude list away- the happiness of my past was a fleeting sensation that perpetually needed to be restocked. That meant the endless pursuit of inebriated consciousness, a new romantic interest, or fitting into my skinny jeans. It also meant saying “yes” when I should have said “no,” choosing your hobby instead of undertaking my own, paying the tab instead of allowing myself to be treated, being agreeable instead of risking a fight, letting you choose the restaurant instead of selecting the wrong one, turning a blind eye instead of doing the right thing, calling it “love” instead of what it really was, and staying instead of leaving.
Taking care of my own needs- whether it’s by breaking up with someone or saying I want pepperoni pizza instead of cheese- is not just about getting what I want. Surprisingly, getting what I want doesn’t always lead to happiness. Rather, it’s about being vulnerable. Vulnerability however, can lead to happiness. With each “yes,” or “no,” or “that doesn’t work for me,” I allow myself to be seen and accepted for who I really am. Sometimes it’s painful: it can lead to the termination of a relationship or the unanticipated work and frustration of following your dreams. For some of us, this is the first time we are really learning how to be responsible for ourselves. But it’s not without reward! Like in recovery, where we learn that our past can become our greatest asset, taking responsibility for our own lives not only empowers us, but also transforms our relationships.
Instead of looking at my past as a series of failed relationships or mistakes, I see it as the necessary fine-tuning of my character. From my heartache and misfortune, through tears, regrets, and triumphs- I have accelerated towards my goals, my desires, my best self.