Sometimes we can lose sight of what a healthy relationship gives us. Besides safety and comfort and support and love, one of the most critical things we gain from any healthy relationship is the ability to be our truest self. In the presence of this other person, we are not our anxieties or our fears or the things that hold us back. We are free and confident and almost perfect in the way that any human being can be perfect.
Although these qualities exist in us at all times, it seems that they only come to the surface in the presence of this other person. Whether it’s a lover or a friend or a family member, they unlock something in us that allows the truest essence of who we are to shine. We are who we want to be when we’re with that person, we start realizing our full potential as a human being. It’s as if their presence liberates us and allows us to do things we cannot do on our own.
Which is why, when any good relationship ends or becomes dysfunctional, it hurts so much. Not only are we losing this person we care so much about, not only are we losing companionship, and support, and love, and laughter but we’re also losing a part of ourselves. A part we want to nourish and protect. A part that may have alluded us for most of our lives. A part that is, in many ways, who we really are.
A healthy relationship is not about possession. A healthy relationship is about reciprocal care and support that benefits both people. With this kind of dynamic in place, we can reach heights that we never would have been able to reach on our own. This is the beauty of a strong, healthy bond between two people.
But when that bond disintegrates, it hurts like hell.
It hurts because we’re losing this other person, but it also hurts because it seems like we’re losing that part of ourselves. The amazing person they helped bring to the surface. There’s often little or nothing we can do about losing someone else, but that might not be the most painful thing about the end of a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship.
The most painful thing might be the part of ourselves that it seems like we’re losing. But perhaps the first step in healing after a devastating breakup or unexpected exit from someone we cared deeply about, is remembering the person they helped us become and thinking about how we can channel that person, how we can bring that person to life on our own.
The reason why it hurts might be just as much about losing ourselves as it is about losing the other person. If we remember this, we might have a chance.