The Other Side Of A Broken Heart: On Being The One Who Walked Away
When it comes to break ups, no one ever talks about what it’s like to be the person who left. To be the person who walks away from the relationship and bears the responsibility of being viewed as the person who “ended” the relationship. The instigator of the ensuing chaos, the perpetrator of the whirlwind of tears, denial, anguish, and disappointment.
As the person who instigated the end of my marriage, I have battled severe depression, guilt, and anxiety over breaking the heart of a sweet and loving man, devastating a family, and overall confusing everyone in both my life and in the of my former partner. I feel as if I threw everything up in the air, watched it shatter around me, and took a battering ram to destroy whatever remained. I was so desperate for freedom, so determined to discover the woman I knew I had hiding inside of me, I couldn’t even fathom what my decision would mean for everyone around me.
I clawed my way free from a beautiful and loving cage and entered an unforgiving, terrifying world. But a world that suits me, that accepts all my broken pieces.
As I’ve gone through these past 18 months, I’ve vacillated between numbness, anger, fear, depression, rage, grief, and any number of negative emotions. I’ve harmed myself, I’ve lost myself in alcohol, and I’ve tried to drown my pain by spending time with questionable men with questionable intentions. I’ve hurt and neglected friends, gained weight, experienced the highest level of sleep deprivation I’ve yet to see, and spent all of my money on worthless consumption to hide from facing my own reality: I am, at the age of 29, divorced and alone.
But these past few weeks, the sun has resurfaced, the days have become longer, and as we sit in the full swing of summer, my wounds have finally closed. They’re still pink and shiny, fresh and slightly raw. And they’ll likely never truly fade – constant reminders of one of the darkest chapters in my life – and as a woman who was raised in a house shadowed by domestic violence and the various forms of abuse that go with it, I have a number of chapters in my story that are muddied and stained. But time does heal all wounds – some wounds leave deeper scars than others. Some scars unexpectedly flare up with a type of ghost pain, almost as if to remind you of what you’ve survived. But the rawness subsides.
For me, I know that one day, I will find peace with my decision. As I grow into myself and explore life for the first time as a single woman, I know that I will forgive myself for the pain I’ve caused. My self-doubt will dissipate, and I will be okay.
And I don’t know much about love. But I do know this: there is no love more true than the love you have for yourself. And it is that love that I am focusing on now. It is that love that drove me to my decision, because it was one I had never experienced before. And soon as I tasted it, as soon as I became aware of how it felt to put my needs before someone else’s, I couldn’t go back to a situation where I felt secondary in my own life.
But to anyone who has experienced the guilt of ending a relationship, know this: it is no one’s fault. It just is. And there is beauty and learning that comes from every relationship, no matter how short or how long. As you look for the lessons, just remember you’re not alone in this. And that you will, with time, be okay.