Grief causes humans, who'd prefer not to feel such pain, to seek ways to escape the pain. A few common ways include numbing with substances, seclusion, distractions, and becoming co-dependent with others, like trying to hold onto a life raft during stormy seas.
The problem with all these things is that they slow the grief process and sometimes worsen it.
There is no way around grief but right through the center, splitting through gut, tendon, and tender emotion. And still, life is happening—just as it is happening for others—in real-time, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I was waking every single morning feeling as though my insides had been replaced with a slew of rocks. Big rocks, small rocks, boulder rocks, all different sizes, causing extreme discomfort and inability to get out of bed. This is also commonly referred to as "depression."
After losing my brother and best friend to suicide, I couldn't imagine leaving my relationship.
That's just too much pain for one person to handle, and so even though there were many signs that I should leave the relationship, I stayed.
I stayed, imaging that my insecurities were from my own past, the voice asking me kindly to leave was just my anxiety speaking, and that sick stomach feeling that you get when something is off, perhaps, was just another wave of grief. I made excuses for the relationship because I cannot lose another person that I love. I must hold onto them. I can't bare the further loss.
But there came a point, a crossroads of sorts, where I realized that by staying in the relationship—I was betraying myself.
I was not choosing myself any longer nor trusting that God has got me through this process of loss and moving on. I literally began to imagine myself like Katniss Everdeen, and life was one big Hunger Games. I had to just keep running, save what I could, and be prepared for my friends to turn into enemies.
I don't know why things play out the way that they do, but my soul, my Self, my inner voice, my spirit, what-have-you, wasn't having this relationship. It was saying, "we love him, and it's okay to love someone and still let them go."
And so, I let them go.
Before I let them go, however, I fought with myself daily—coming up with excuse after excuse—down to things like "if I move out, I will have to set up new internet, and I really don't like doing that, my printer never pairs correctly, and it's a whole ordeal."
Or things like "if we break up, I will no longer have a social network because I moved here with him and all of his friends."
Or "if we break up, I don't know if I can handle the dark place that I will find myself in."
You get the idea.
I found my crossroads point, when I realized this person was not and never will be faithful to me. And my body knew. I broke out in shingles. I was waking up with rocks in my body. I was depressed. I was lonely. I was tired of feeling anxious about who he was talking to or where he actually was when he said he was with a friend. I was tired of knowing what I knew and not allowing myself to take action.
It came to me v. me.
People make their own choices, and I am not one to judge. If someone cannot be faithful in a relationship, that is their own process to work on, and perhaps they should just not be in a monogamous relationship. Like I said, not mine to judge. But I do have to take ownership of my OWN choices.
The life that I am creating for myself.
And staying with someone who remains unfaithful doesn't work for me. If I stayed, it would be a constant betrayal to ME.
There are many reasons relationships must come to a close, and I believe each one plays an important role in learning more about ourselves, how we love, and our blind spots. I learned so much in this relationship that I am so grateful for, and I know there's the whole army-rising response that happens with cheaters that makes them out to be these awful people.
They're on their own journey—making mistakes and learning from them just like the rest of us.
So, I did the brave thing. I left my relationship that I moved to Florida to be with because it was a constant betrayal of myself. I kept getting asked this question by my therapist: "Do you know your worth?"
And I was like, "lady, quit it with all this deep talk like you want me to leave the one person I'm with every single day and is my life raft."
I stopped going to therapy.
Because I knew, at that time, I wouldn't leave the relationship. Though she was right, I didn't know my worth, and it was only ME that could do something about it. People will continue to treat you how you allow them to.
The pain is still fresh, but the freedom is so sweet like honeysuckle in the summertime.
The freedom to choose me. To love me more than co-dependency.
The freedom to make space in my life, sit with the silence, and be okay with just me.
To allow grief, layers of grief, to wash through me and know that they're making a stronger, braver me.
To make the decision that makes me proud.
Moving on is never easy, but there's this really beautiful side to it. There's the strength of choosing yourself and the creation of space to just "be" and not in constant fight or flight mode. There's the beauty of making new friendships and relationships. There's the power in going through something you once thought you'd never garner the strength to do.
There's this whole stigma around single people like they must all be so miserable. And that isn't the case. Staying with someone you know isn't right for you is miserable. Singleness is such a healthy time of renewal, self-growth, restoration, empowerment, and time to yourself. You can make it whatever you want it to be, and for me, I am choosing it to be my time of radical self-care.
The thing that helped me make the final decision was all the strong women in my life.
I've watched, with tears in my eyes, as women in my life made brave choices.
My mother—encouraging me and giving me the space to make my own decisions. She remains positive, looking forward, and has hope—even in the worst, most all-consuming pain anyone could imagine after her son.
Brea, my boxing coach—she doesn't know this, but her name in my phone is "Brea Badass" because I watched her step into her moving-on process with such tenderness and openness. With laugher! She was laughing! She has handled her sudden life-altering situation so powerfully, and she sent me a bracelet to remind me of how brave I am—it never comes off.
Lydia—my cousin whom I speak with daily, answered the voice inside of her asking her to go and has created an entirely new life with a man we all adore. She had first to make the brave decision to leave.
Renee—a random woman I met in the pool who moved here from NYC and left her marriage. And now, she relocated to Florida by herself, and continues to make new friendships with such glowing joy.
And then there's all the women who have read the book Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and all my friends who I speak with regularly (I cannot name you all, but you know who you are, and I love you).
We can do hard things.
Shaking, terrified, not knowing what's next... we can still do hard things.