My 25th year of life was remarkable in a number of ways. It was a year in which I made an unusual amount of outstanding mistakes. While some of them had devastating consequences, I will forever consider these mistakes to be meaningful gifts. If I had the power to go back an undo any of them, I can say with one hundred percent clarity that I would not. I realize I am not the first person to have this experience, nor will I be the last. However, I believe that everyone has a unique moment in time when they realize that they are being self-destructive in the actions they take in their own life. This is the story of my moment, and how I have forever changed since then.
Shortly after turning 25, I began dating a 29 year old man (we’ll call him C). C was very charming, and the definition of handsome (that being a tall, fit, blonde hair, blue eyed, dimpled individual). We were co-workers together and saw each other often. There would always be a flirtation of some sort between us during the work shift. When he smiled at me, my knees would literally go weak-obviously for the pure fact that when he smiled, his dimples grew ever more prominent.
It became quite obvious to the both of us that there was an attraction between us. The only problem was that I was already seeing someone (we’ll call him R). A few months passed by and I began to look more forward to seeing C at work than I did my dates with R. When the attraction between C and I began to become more powerful than the one I had with R, I did an unbearable thing. I broke up with R, very abruptly and for no apparent reason. R was quiet, respectful, sweet and incredibly loving. He was a perfectionist, which I could appreciate about him (seeing as I myself am one), but this part of R also drove me crazy-as I have an adventurous side that I felt as though I could not express while spending time with R.
It took all of 48 hours after breaking up with R, for C to ask me on a date. Of course, seeing as my intention of breaking up with R was largely to get C’s attention- I eagerly agreed.
The complicated thing about C was that he was a separated father of two young boys. His previous marriage had lasted for only two years. His wife decided to leave him. C told me that her leaving came without warning. His world was turned upside down in a very short period of time. Since his marriage ended, C had dated a fair amount of women-each for relatively small periods of time. He had a reputation of going from one girlfriend to the next, and to the next-without taking much of a breather in between.
I knew all of this before I decided to begin a relationship with C. My logical mind knew that this was not an optimal situation to introduce myself to. I knew that the relationship with C would be much more complicated than any of the other relationships I had in the past. Given the reputation C had, I knew that chances were I would eventually just become another short lived relationship for him to quickly forget.
With all of this logic in mind, I forged ahead recklessly into a difficult relationship-one where I very quickly forgot who I was as a person, and began giving endlessly of myself. The worse part of it all, was that I also very quickly began letting go of my own beliefs, morals and reasoning.
As a 25 year old female, whose longest relationship had been for four years (with a man who had been a year younger, and who had no children) you can imagine the overwhelming feeling that came with dating an older man who had already been married and had two children with another woman. It felt as though I needed to become a motherly figure for his boys, without knowing the first thing about how to do so. C also wanted me to meet the boys very early on in our unstable relationship. Within three weeks of seeing one another, C asked that I meet them. I resisted, saying that it was much too early in the relationship, however C expressed that he wanted me to get to know them, and to become familiar with his role as a father as well.
I met the boys shortly after our discussion. Every fiber of my being was screaming out for me to not yet meet them, to not yet become a part of their young lives knowing that I may not be in it for long. I did not want them to become attached to me, and then have me removed. I did not want them to feel that sense of loss or confusion. But, to please C, I placed a heavy load of expectations on myself. I would often feel a high level of anxiety while interacting with the boys. Spending time with them, and becoming a motherly figure to them for me felt like trying to ride a horse without first knowing how to put the saddle on properly. I had no sweet clue what I was doing.
C also required a grand amount of time and attention. He often left me wondering what he was thinking, or what he was doing. I couldn’t help but feel as though he was not one hundred percent invested in the relationship, almost as though he knew it was doomed for failure before it had even begun. He also left me feeling as though he had a tendency to be unfaithful if the opportunity presented itself. Perhaps he had been faithful to me however his reputation certainly swayed me to believe otherwise.
A few months went by with me giving everything to the relationship, to the point where I felt as though my gas tank was on empty and I was burning oil to simply keep moving forward. The anxiety I felt about our relationship, and about spending time with the boys tired me out. There were days I would quite literally sleep all day. This cycle of self-neglect continued on far too long. I had a wake-up call that I will never forget when I went to visit my Mom one day. I remember her looking at me, with a concerned expression upon her face. She said to me “Your spirit is dead. It’s like you’re not yourself anymore.”
At that point, a realization came to me. My Mom was right, my spirit had died. Before feeling this way, I do not think I recognized that your spirit truly can die. It can. Until it does you cannot fully comprehend the idea. Looking back at this moment in time, I realize at that point- I no longer exuded personality, excitement or light. It was like I was a blank canvas. I had lost everything that makes me the person that I am.
I want to be very clear in saying that I realize none of this was directly C’s fault. He was a relatively good boyfriend to me. He was certainly never unkind or treated me poorly. He simply needed the dedication and time that I could not give him without slowly losing myself. I also knowingly stepped into a role to which I was nowhere near being prepared for.
The realization that my spirit was no longer vibrant overwhelmed me. I knew that I needed to remove myself from the relationship with C, and from the expectations that I placed upon myself to behave in a motherly fashion towards the boys. I needed to be with myself, to care for myself, and to nurture myself.
A couple of days later, when the opportunity presented itself, I broke up with C. I did this very much in the same manner to which I ended things with R- very suddenly and without much of an explanation. To this day, I believe that I broke up with each of these individuals so quickly because there was such a large part of my being telling me to run, telling me that this was not all that there was going to be for me in life.
I have been single for nearly seven months now, and I cannot describe in words how I have grown as a person. Shortly after breaking up with C, I had a spiritual awakening of sorts. This awakening followed a long period of depression. During this depression, there were days where I did not leave my apartment, or my couch for that matter. I stayed hidden, under blankets for days crying, feeling lonely and sorry for myself. I also felt a tremendous amount of guilt for breaking up with C so quickly. Not because I was regretting my decision, but because I felt sorry for his boys. I imagined they would be asking where I was and that they must have been confused by my sudden absence. I felt as though I had hit rock bottom, as though the only place I had to go from there was up.
And up I went. I began spending time with myself, rediscovering who it was I used to be. In order to do this, I found myself asking what it was I found joy in doing when I was a child. Where did my feeling of excitement for life come from then, and how I could find that excitement again. The answers did not come to me immediately, but when they did they were utterly simple. When I was younger, I enjoyed being creative and artistic. So I began to paint often.
I continued down this spiritual path with the help of an amazing and unforgettable friend. He helped me realize that all I needed to do was to feel good each day by doing what made me most excited at any given point in time. He also taught me about the laws of the universe, those being that you attract the things you want in your life by asking for them and by maintaining an open heart. He also taught me about mediation and enlightenment, and how meditation could help me connect with my higher self (my higher self being the truest form of who I really am).
And so I meditated. I found the more I did this, the more my anxiety began to fade into the background and become so distant that it is no longer a significant part of my life. I began to remember more and more each day what brings me joy. Today, I am on a completely new journey. I am planning to work towards a personal goal of becoming a writer. I knew it was a chance that I needed to let myself take. After working for a year as a Dietitian, I have relocated from my two bedroom apartment to a room in a house, so that I can afford to go back to University in the fall to complete a Bachelor of Journalism. I have also started writing poems and take time each week to invest in my painting.
It took loosing who I was completely for me to rediscover who I really am, and to have the confidence to go forth in life solo- making important decisions by listening to my heart, and by taking into account my own definition of happiness. I am learning to let go of the expectations others may have for me, and to do what I know will bring joy to my life. I am beginning to uncover a strong sense of self-worth and knowingness of who I am as a person for the first time in my entire life.
Not only do I have a stronger sense of self, I also feel confident knowing I can be single and still have incredibly meaningful relationships with the people around me. I have grown closer to family and friends, and have let down my guard enough to begin making friends with new people. I also find a sense of empowerment in knowing that from day to day, I am in control of my life. I can make my own decisions and have the complete freedom of having to answer to anyone but myself. This may sound selfish to some, and maybe it is. I feel as though society has gradually taught us that caring for ourselves, and placing our needs above those of others is something to be frowned upon. However, I am coming to understand that for me to give to others and to be helpful to others-I need to first give to myself.
So, for those reading, regardless of what society may subliminally tell you-you are not a failure because you happen to be single in your late 20’s. View this time as a blessing. This is YOUR time to build a strong foundation for yourself to become everything you want to be. This is YOUR time to follow your own excitement in life, to make big decisions, to take risks, to challenge yourself, to care for yourself. Use this time wisely. Your job each day is to feel good. Your job each day is to find joy, to remember yourself, or even to rebuild yourself stronger than you have ever been before. Enjoy the ride!