In the new year, I caught up with an old friend a little while after her long-term relationship closed. We talked about moving on from “we” to “me” and what this meant in all of the ways: friendships, hobbies, societal expectations, and what the environment of home becomes after a breakup.
It is not my story to tell. So to contextualise our conversation and without sharing too much in general: Eliz moved over 10,000 km from her hometown in Brazil to start a life in Amsterdam with her then-partner. It is a familiar story – of building life together; discovering new things and new places, together in partnership.
That’s something a lot of us want, right? (At least, I can definitely, personally see its appeal.)
When Eliz described the separation, I felt strongly. There was the process and grief of the breakup itself, and then there was an arrival of a whole new world for her to enter, by herself, without letting the fear of loneliness isolate her.
Some folk want to move on as quickly as possible after a relationship has ended, and I totally understand that. But in this context, of building an entire life together and seeing it slowly dissolve, I think moving on quickly means simply burying inner trauma to be unleashed another day.
Eliz didn’t do that.
And so I spoke with her after some months of self-reflection and healing and I was in awe. Neither of us wanted the break-up to monopolise our time together, so conversation moved towards her present situation: herself. Just her. No partner on the side. Herself.
It turns out that when you have a relationship with someone you were building a life together with, it can get a bit foggy sometimes when it comes to maintaining friendships —- this makes sense and is totally another discussion – and nurturing your own personal hobbies.
What I really enjoyed hearing was Eliz saying that she was being more proactive and saying “yes” to more things. She is free to take the reigns on her own life, thinking only of herself. I think we’re socialised to believe this is bad but I see it more as an important step in understanding what truly, really fulfills us and what kind of things and ideas will realise our full potential.
Before you charge me wrongly, I’m not advocating pertual singledom. I think, after the dissolution of a long-term, codependent relationship, it’s important to start dating yourself. Get to know yourself better. Really better. Start a new hobby and work on your inner self and why you felt, or feel, a certain way about your former partner. Work through your primal feelings of abandonment and conflict. Understand what makes you happy and what makes you not happy when it is no longer connected to the state of your relationship.
She’s doing that.
We also talked about, in our respective situations, about the importance of practising gratitude. Everyone goes through a metric ton of metaphorical shit. (It’s all subjective, right?) And I was glad that we could both share our practises with each other. Grateful that she could love somebody so deeply. Grateful that they both understood it was time to part ways. Grateful that it ended as amicably as it could be. Grateful for the friendships that keeps them both in check. Grateful that she has the time and energy, now, to figure out who the fuck Eliz is in 2019.
I think it’s going to be a great year for her.