Hi all. It’s been a while.
I have been toying with the idea of writing a post like this for a couple of months now, but I haven’t really known where to start. This story is not entirely mine. Half of it belongs to someone else. But I’m feeling a little off-centre today, and writing helps me to centre myself. Besides, half of the story still belongs to me, and I think I should be allowed to tell it.
I started to realise something was wrong when I couldn’t remember the last time I wrote poetry. It had been months, and it was symptomatic of how I’d been feeling generally. I felt stifled, weighed down. The wrongness felt like a heavy cloud hanging over me. At first I thought it was just depression. I explained it away as something innately wrong with me, because I didn’t want to - couldn’t - look at the relationship in a critical light. We were happy. I was not. I was the problem.
Increasingly I began to look to external influences to feel better about it, to pull myself out of the rut. I posted instagrams of us together. I told all my friends about the nice things he’d done for me, the nice places he’d taken us to. I held on to this shining, pristine vision of a relationship from the outside, validated externally by ‘likes’, by people telling me how lucky I was. I felt so horribly guilty in my unhappiness, like I was trying to pick apart something I should be grateful for. But I still held on in the hopes that one day the clouds would clear.
Instead of confronting our lack of compatibility, I tried to push him to change, and tried to bend myself into a pretzel to fit around him. We both tried to jam a square peg into a round hole for months. Because on paper we were perfect. Because on instagram and in anecdotes our relationship was untouchable. But people are so much more complex and many-faceted than words on a page, a picture in a square box. Anecdotal evidence of love is not love when behind the veneer you no longer feel like yourself.
And that’s what it came to. Me, sobbing, sitting next to him and saying “I don’t feel like I have an identity anymore”. Because I had torn myself apart for being unhappy. Because when our communication started to break down I stopped expressing my true feelings altogether. Because in response to our relationship falling apart around me I had tried to pour myself into it, to liquefy myself so I’d fit a mould. I almost succeeded in losing myself entirely, but some small voice in me said “Enough, now.”.
Nobody tells you how much it’s going to hurt when you actually do it. For a little while before I made the decision it felt like I was splintering in half. But I listened to myself, to that voice that was telling me I would feel better for it. And before long the clouds lifted. Sun streamed in. I no longer felt heavy, but light. The self I hadn’t seen in months came back and said “I’ve been waiting for you”.
The best advice someone gave me when I told her I’d felt like I was losing myself was: “And how sad that would have been if you’d lost yourself. There’s a space for you to occupy, and it’s not with him.” I am occupying that space. I am doing things for myself. I am loving in ways that do not harm me or stifle me. I am writing again. I am finding new ways to grow, taking root in an identity which isn’t going anywhere.
We all think the first love, the first person we can see ourself being with forever, is going to last that long. Most of the time it doesn’t. I’ve learned that that’s okay. The chances you are going to be completely compatible with another person are low. But it is not ever worth losing yourself to defend something which is transient when it isn’t right.