I have been reading and writing a lot about break ups over the past months, as I have been going through a roller coaster of emotions.
This morning I read an article by Shannon Ashley (you should check her out), and her 13 helpful hints for getting through a rough break up. Well, yesterday, I finalized mine, by closing the literal door of my shared house with him, for the last time. The figurative door closed, once I sent him a lengthy email of all the reasons why I left.
But, HOW DO YOU KNOW?
How do you know when the relationship has ended, for good?
Here are a few red flags and signs that you have decided to finally END it with someone:
- You never feel like going home- I spent extra time in my car listening to music and driving around. I never felt like going “home” was beneficial for me. Often, I would make plans, excuses, or extra work projects to keep me out of the house we shared.
- You avoid texts and phone calls from your partner/spouse- Every damn day I would be at the office or out doing work in the field, and there would be the inevitable missed calls or texts. Honestly, when I didn’t answer right away, I would get accused of ignoring him. So, in return, I did just that. I ignored him, until I felt like replying.
- You make excuses to be at home alone- I did this often. I would actually miss work, JUST to have some time alone. I had no desire to be around him, and when I was, I maintained a distance, or made myself focus on something other than him. When he left to go out of town, I would make plans to spend quiet nights alone, doing what I wanted, eating what I chose to, and enjoying the peace. I stopped looking forward to him coming home.
- You lose all physical/emotional/mental attraction- There were moments when he wanted to be intimate with me, and I just couldn’t find any more attraction to him. He would come toward me, or make comments about having sex, and I either forced myself to power through, or I would make excuses to NOT. Either way, I had lost my physical desire to be with him, and KNEW then that we were done. Our talking became minimal and I lost the attraction of the “hope” that we could understand each other.
- You begin to seek out other activities- Honestly, I began writing on Medium, and in other avenues, simply to have space from him. It was my own world where I could be myself, and feel freedom. I also spent hours working out, going for runs, and making plans with friends to go out and do “anything” that would pique my interest. He never read any of my work, so that was a bonus as well.
- You find yourself complaining or jealous of other people’s relationships- I never was one of those women who found solace in bitching about her partner. I often listened with full compassion, while others told me stories about the horrible ways that their partners/ husbands treated them, and often I found myself feeling jealous. They would tell me how he came home from work and didn’t make supper, or didn’t kiss them, and ponder whether or not they were happy. To me, their relationships seemed like a walk in the park, compared to mine, and I wished that I had those minor complaints. I only began to voice my negativity about my ex, after I had left the house. I saw no point in complaining about him while I was with him. Alternatively, I would see couples holding hands, laughing together, and sharing PDA’s and wonder what that would be like. I envied the obvious feelings that happy couples shared for one another.
- You become distracted by fantasies of a life without them- I am sure this is “normal-ish” for long term couples. Maybe after an argument, you wonder what life would be like without them. During the final month of my relationship, it was a huge distraction. I would lose track of time, mentally packing the house up, and wondering where I would go, how I would live, and if it would be worth it. Spoiler alert- It was TOTALLY WORTH it.
- You reach out to supportive friends who know your situation and can help you- I was so blessed to have a huge support system. Even before I stepped out the door, I had a safe place to go, a few friends to talk to, and some amazing help to get me moved out. They all knew my partner well enough to know that I needed to get out quick and they were beside me the entire time.
- You don’t feel the need to get combined professional help- Years ago, I asked my partner to go see a couples councilor with me. After he declined, I pulled out a threat, and said that if he didn’t, I was done. We had undergone a lot of deep rooted issues, and I knew without help, I would walk away. He came once, and threw me under the bus with the therapist, just to ensure that we would never go back again. He embarrassed me enough that I couldn’t return to that office ever again. Well played. I did see a therapist on my own, and after I had left, my ex asked me if I would consider seeing a couple’s specialist. Too little, too late, buddy. That ship had sailed years ago, and the thought of sharing my feelings in front of him was more than I could bear. I politely declined.
- Your mental health shifts- Anxiety, depression and late onset PTSD took over for me. I had been on medication for well over a year, just so I could stay robotic enough to “cope”. My therapist said words that will stay with me forever- “No one is worth medicating for. If you can’t be with them un-medicated, you have bigger problems than you realize”. I have been off of my medications for well over a month now, and my mental health has ups and downs, but I am no longer robotic. I actually have “feelings” now, which is wonderful.
- You feel love from others- I have quite a few friends who have crawled out of the woodwork and told me that they couldn’t stand to see the way my ex treated me. The resounding, “I just wanted you to be happy, but couldn’t stand by and see how he treated you”, has been reiterated a few times. At first, I was taken aback by their returned texts, phone calls and private messages. It actually made me angry at them, and at myself. It also made me tear up. Hearing people say how strong I am, and how happy they were for me, to finally walk away, brought me to my knees. Having family members tell me that they felt they had lost me, because of my relationship, stung.My best friend tells me daily that he loves me, and it melts my heart. I KNOW that they are all being honest (sometimes brutally so) and it has opened my eyes to the past 9 years. It makes me wonder how I got through it all, alone.
- Your life is better without them- My ex texted me every day, saying the same thing, over and over. “I hope you get better”. His assumption was that there was something WRONG with me, mentally, and that was why I left. He couldn’t have been more incorrect. Something was wrong with me while we were together. I simply wasn’t happy, or fulfilled. My new life, in a tiny shared condo, with all of my own “stuff” surrounding me, is my happy place. My best friend and I share wonderful moments together, laughing, dancing, listening to music, sharing meals, and sharing a life. I AM BEYOND BETTER. The house my ex and I shared, never felt like home. It was a large bungalow, surrounded by windows with a view of a pond oasis. It was much larger, and prettier than any house I had ever lived in. But it was never a HOME. My condo and my best friend is HOME to me, and I am grateful every day. I race home after work, and am excited to do menial chores in my own space. I love my new life and my new home.
- You knock down your walls- Once the decision is made to leave a relationship, it is amazing when you can finally let your guard down, and just BE. My walls have been built up tight with brick, concrete, mortar, steel, and solid locks for years. There were no meaningful conversations in my relationship to help take my inner sanctum down. There was nothing I could say that would make anything better. I was accused of being crazy, and not letting things go. I was told that because of “my issues” there was no hope of marriage, or for a bright future. The more those words were spoken, the more strength my walls had. Talks became few and far between. My walls are now down, and I laugh often, cry a lot, and allow people in to my heart and soul again. Music moves me again, instead of being white noise. And, I am so much better for it. Bottling up and succumbing to someone is never the healthy choice. It was a matter of coping and survival for me for many years, and it feels amazing to finally let go of the weight in my heart. I have begun to build relationships again that are deep, and solid. I have finally found myself again, by seeing the image in the mirror, and through the eyes of people who care about me.
- You see them differently- To be honest, I have ridden the emotional roller coaster to death, since I walked out of his life. I have felt guilt, disappointment, rage, anger, bitterness, empathy, sympathy, and everything in between. With that said, I have NEVER questioned my decision. I have never once regretted that I left. I have also never felt like I miss him. Perhaps that was because it was finally time. Or, maybe I had fallen out of love with him long ago and was incapable of feeling any urges or longing to be with him again. He spent months trying to coerce me, and win me back. He even made a feeble attempt at proposing to me, but I just saw him differently. I saw him as a stranger and someone that I was always guarded around. When this sank in, I just knew that it was time to end it with him. Maybe it was him, maybe it was me, but there was definitely no “us” left.
You may be in a relationship that you struggle within. You may also have some days that are diamonds, while the others are dog poop. When relationships break down, you will know if it is time to walk away, or perhaps it is worth staying and fighting for. The choice is always yours.
Determining your self value and worth is a huge help when you feel like it may be time to go. If the other person in your life makes you feel any less than who and what you are, it may be time to re-evaluate your situation. Cutting ties is never easy, and the process can be tedious and all consuming, but if you will be a better you for it, it may be time to consider the break away.
I made the mistake of making excuses for why I stayed as long as I did, and lost myself in the process. I became someone I disliked, while I was with him. I shunned friends, I allowed myself to work on making him happy, as I sacrificed my own feelings. I felt that making him feel fulfilled, would in turn, fulfill me. I am beyond grateful to have pulled myself out of that darkness, and can now enjoy a world of unknowns, adventures, relationships, and unconditional love.
Breaking up, and sorting through the relationship “stuff” is rough. There is no point in sugar coating it. You will have hard times, and you will have times when you are enlightened to a new kind of freedom. You may lose out on materials or financial gain, but you will also regain your happiness, self-value, and self-worth.
If the time is right, you simply KNOW.