When my long-distance (ex) boyfriend of one month and a half broke up with me then gave me the silent treatment, I was traumatised. I was only eighteen. I struggled to accept the fact that someone who claimed to care about me and love me could suddenly leave me and treat me like I didn’t exist.
After that, I developed severe dating anxiety. I was scared of being ignored and blocked in texts. When a partner pulled away, I clung to them even harder as my fear of abandonment and rejection crippled me. When they disappeared from my life, I spent days and months trying to figure out why.
“Why did they not want me?” “Why did they treat me so bad?” “Why was I never good enough?” “Why did my life never turn out the way I wanted?” All the questions spun around in my head in a never-ending circle, following me from one relationship to the next. It was excruciating.
Some people have a harder time moving on than others partly because they can’t stop analysing the past — I used to be one of them.
Back then, I didn’t write for an audience; I wrote because I needed to understand “why” things were the way they were. It helped. The articles resonated with many people while I immersed myself in my intense emotions and my thirst for meanings and reasons.
My wake-up call
For a long time, that was how I lived my life. And it had felt fine until a break-up two years ago.
The relationship was unremarkable but, for some reason—and, perhaps, because of timing, it triggered all my deep-rooted issues. I made one mistake after another and lost myself completely in the process. I felt like I had nothing left with me. I asked many “why” questions, but no answers made sense. No writing could help. I thought I had gone too far.
Meanwhile, I was aware that I was not getting any younger; my life goals became increasingly farfetched.
I was scared that I would get stuck in this miserable state, having lived through my twenties with nothing to show for it. The conditions of my life then were horrible. I had no attachment, no stable foundation, and no trust in myself.
It hit me that if I kept living in the past, obsessing over all the why’s that I had no real answers for, my life might pass me by for real.
My big mental shift
I stopped asking myself “Why?” and started asking myself “Now what?”
Acknowledging my reality — and mortality — led to one of the most transformative mindset shifts I’ve ever made. Within a year or so, I went from being anxiously single to being happily committed and loving my life.
This outcome would never be possible for me had I kept asking myself all the wrong questions and wasting my time trying to understand people who were already out of my life (and added absolutely no value to it.)
Evidently, during 2019, I gloriously climbed out of my personal hell, yet I didn’t publish any emotional essays about it.
I was done with wallowing and self-pitying. Instead, I looked forward and took action. I stopped asking myself “Why?” and started asking myself “Now what?” I thought carefully about what I wanted and made practical plans for it. I set hard rules for myself to cut ties with the past and move forward. It was challenging, but it felt right.
For the first time in my life, I felt okay. I was confident that I could meet my own needs. I successfully created better living conditions for myself while the rest gradually fell into its place.
Don’t get me wrong — I still tried to make sense of my experiences; I simply didn’t let it lead the way anymore.
I worked through my issues in private while making sure all my choices and decisions would get me to a state of stability and happiness — that was my one and only priority then. I was no longer willing to negotiate it. Whatever I did or whoever I was with had to add to my sense of stability and happiness. Period.
And that was how I met my wonderful life partner.
That said, it was never the end goal of my healing and leveling-up process — it was a by-product. Well, life can happen beautifully and quickly when you have the right mindsets.
What I’ve learned is this:
Asking “Why?”, in and of itself, is not a bad thing—in fact, it’s a prerequisite for growth.
However, if it holds you back or doesn’t actually lead to any value-adding insights, as in the realm of romantic relationships, you’re wasting your life.
Every second you spend living in the past and fixating on the people who have no good intention with you is one less second you have to build the life you love and find your compatible life partner (if you want a good relationship that is.)
The thing is, it’s hard to even understand yourself — what makes you think you can understand the thoughts and actions of another human being whom, in many cases, you spend limited time with and have nothing fundamental in common with?
It’s pointless. It’s a mental trap.
You don’t need closure from your ex-partners — seriously, tell yourself whatever you want to hear.
Watch out — your need for closure is a mental trap.
What you need is to appreciate the time and opportunities you have right now to live a healthy and happy life.
You deserve it and you can do it. Act on it now.
It’s time to stop living your life on everyone else’s terms. Live your life on your own terms and assess everything that comes your way accordingly.
Sometimes, you’ll have to make compromises, but it will feel natural to you and you will never have to do it at the expense of your well-being and dignity. Remember that.