I fell in love two years ago. We kept in touch. We were on great terms. We talked. Now and then I still messaged him. I messaged him when my soul felt lonely, when I became frustrated with the dating scene in London, when I wondered if I would fall in love again. In those rather vulnerable moments, I wanted to feel connected to him — the man who understood me well, who genuinely cared about me as a person, so I could use the familiar comfort of our relationship, both past and present, to soothe myself, to restore my faith in the existence and possibility of love and deep, authentic connections.
I’m over him. But I wasn’t ready to let go of what we had. I felt scared and alone. I didn’t know what I would be left with if I cut him out of my life. One recent evening, out of habit, I dropped him a text late at night to seek comfort and attention as I wasn’t feeling okay. The next day, he replied and told me gently to stop messaging him at odd hours. I was taken aback. It was the first time he’d told me off like that. But then it hit me that he was right, he could sense it (he always did) — I didn’t respect him and our relationship. I wasn’t really interacting with him. I was interacting with the symbols of what he and our relationship meant to me. I asked myself why. I asked myself if I would still really need this. I asked myself if it was the time to walk on my own.
Not long ago, I was involved in a dating situation and ended up getting hurt badly. It was a pivotal period of my life as all the deep-rooted pain and shame resurfaced and finally pushed me to change after years of bad habits and unhealthy lifestyle choices. I didn’t realise how weak I had been. I was growing but I was also feeling terribly lost and desperate for validation and approval from outside of myself. I thought I was looking for love but I was looking to be filled, which was impossible. I was full of fear and self-doubts. I couldn’t be on my own. I couldn’t be single. I didn’t know how to be okay. I didn’t have anything to fall back on except for myself… But me… I was so, so weak.
Then began my journey to rebuild myself little by little. I picked up new hobbies. I expanded my social circle. I researched into attachment style and learned to regulate my emotions. I went to therapy. These worked. Each day got better than the last, my mood and energy level stabilised. Though sometimes I still woke up and got hit by a wave of anxiety over the fact that I was on my own, I was without an attachment figure to turn to (“There isn’t anyone to validate my self-worth so how do I know if I’m good enough? What am I going to do?”) I still tensed up over the possibility that the people I started seeing would not become my partner (to validate and accompany me) and all I would be left with was, again, myself, from zero.
So I learned to sit with these uneasy feelings and unhealthy thoughts. I learned to not act on them. I learned to ask myself so what. So what… if I’m the only one I’m left with? What’s so nerve-wracking about that? I remind myself that I’m not that weak anymore. I’m really okay. I’m okay on my own. I’m okay without a partner. I’m okay not knowing how things might turn out. I’m strong enough to not only carry myself with respect, care, and love but also to admit my impact on others and give them the love and attention they want from me. I can rely on myself now. I can validate my own feelings. I can trust my judgment. I’m my own person and I’m powerful from the inside. I finally understand why they say you have to love yourself before you can love others. But loving is not enough. You have to like yourself. You have to be okay with who you are. You have to be so okay that you can switch back to the “I’m on my own” mode anytime and start over again, from a place of strength.
Now I have my hobbies to lean back on. I have my writing. I have my family and friends. I have my job I’m taking more interest in. I have my therapist. I have my strong body. I have self-care. I have my patience. I look inward more often. I stopped thinking that everything is my fault. Everything isn’t my fault. It wasn’t just on me. I’m free. I’m the adult. I’m the one to take care of me now, not my parents. I’m the one to call the shots, to decide what I want, who I let in and out of my life. I realise that by expecting an attachment figure to fulfil my emotional needs, I denied my own responsibility for myself and others, I positioned myself passively, and that’s why I always felt powerless, weak, reactive, and victimised. So I’m turning this around. I give myself everything I need, taking up my space and the responsibility that comes with it.
Well, I don’t need to text my ex-lover anymore. I’m ready to walk on my own.