If I’m being honest, I have many fears in life, and most of them are irrational. Okay, all of them are. Spiders, the dark, heights, rejection, failure… these are just some of the things that really get to me or scare me. I am sure I am not the only one that has at least one of these fears right?? But one fear that I feel a lot of people have, usually without even realizing it, is that feeling of starting over. This can be with a job, maybe it is a pain to start over with a recipe or a task, heck even relationships. Oh yes, I said it. I am going to dive into what it is like to be three jumps from making it all the way around the Life game board. RIght then, you draw that last card hoping for something that will send you right to Home, that’s the whole point of the game right? To make it to the end, usually before others, and it becomes a competition? Yep, I’ve been there, and the card I drew was start over… but more like start over and do it blindfolded.
At age 23, I was doing it. I was picking a venue, trying on wedding dresses, talking to catering companies, asking my bridal party to be a part of the celebration, all of it. I was doing all of this with a man that I had been with for almost four years. I figured that this is how it goes right? You date someone for a while, get engaged, plan a wedding, and live happily ever after. There’s no detours, no forks in the road, certainly no speed bumps, and definitely no doubts.
I learned rather quickly that this was not true and that an engagement only amplified all of these disruptions. This was the summary of the lesson that I would eventually learn that marriage and kids will only turn these amplified disruptions into straight volcanic eruptions. Now please know that I understand this is the case with any relationship, I do understand that.
To be a little more vulnerable, while still respecting others’ privacy, I will tell you that this relationship was not meant to work out. In many ways it was unhealthy, for the two of us, and there were many ingredients that created a recipe of disaster. Looking back on this situation now, I could kick myself for not knowing sooner. However, hindsight is 20/20. I spent 7 ½ months planning what should have been the most exciting day of my life (up to that point). When all of the excitement of a new engagement settled, wedding planning stresses increased. This caused the toxic nature of our relationship to strangle me tighter. I had to sit down and have a real conversation with myself. I needed to realize that the amplification of our issues would only get bigger, scarier, and more dangerous. The worst part was, we were not fighting these battles together, but against each other. It was not a matter of “Oh my life isn’t going to be perfect anymore so I’m leaving” kind of mindset. Again, I know relationships are hard. But they shouldn’t be dangerous.
My first day on Christmas break in my first year of teaching, I came to terms with the decision to end a toxic situation and begin healing myself. I had to shove the fears of starting over, being alone, and the complete unknown for who knows how long to the side. I had to raise up the fears of my safety, my happiness, and my future to the surface. Telling the person I had grown to love over the last few years that I could no longer subject myself to our situation and that I needed to leave, permanently, was and is still is one of the hardest conversations I ever had to have. I walked out of the house and it felt like my setting completely changed. It felt like I was walking away from a plane crash and not turning around to see how I could help. It felt like I suddenly just dove into an ocean with no life vest or no oxygen tank, and it was pitch black for as far as I could see. If felt like someone just shut the lights off in a haunted house and suddenly it wasn’t actors and fake props anymore. All I could do was tell myself “Okay, one more step, just keep walking. Breathe. Seriously, Kirsten, breathe.” This echoed in my mind as I walked the 30 feet to the neighbors’ house for the night. Seriously, I had to have that conversation with myself.
There were many days to come that I never predicted would be so hard. I imagine that it was a similar feeling to what an addict experiences going through withdrawals. I had doubts. I wanted to turn around and run right back to where I was. I wanted to run away all together. There were days I didn’t want to get out of bed, and as much as I hate to admit it, there were days that I would stay out until the wee hours of the morning just to avoid going home to an empty bed.
There is one mantra I would tell myself over and over until I understood it. I needed not only to think it or to just convince myself of this statement. No, I needed to truly understand the truth behind it. “I would rather be alone than lonely. I was lonely, but now I’m alone.” There is such a difference between the two. One is a feeling and one is a state of being.
To feel lonely when you are not physically alone is a horrible feeling and should be an immediate red flag. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being alone. Feelings of loneliness should only be fixed by things that are in your control, not by what others can do for you. To be alone and not be lonely is so powerful, but it can be intimidating to some. Never be afraid of all that you can do for yourself. Fill your own voids, seek out your own happiness, and only allow others to add to your life. You should fill your cup all on your own, others shall only overflow it.
I will leave you with this. There are many scary things that we face in life, some on a daily basis. Never should we allow those fears to detour our days, and especially not our entire lives. While I was in the moment, and for many months and years following the end of my engagement, my world was turned upside down. But I refuse to let it detour my entire life into a route I’m not in control of. I have met some incredible people, learned so many valuable lessons, traveled, lived, and experienced so many things because of this change of direction. My brand has only been strengthened. I have learned to hold myself to a higher standard and expect the same of others that want to be in my life. I have taken control of me and my life. I am no longer a slave to my fears.
Thanks so much for your post, Kirsten! If you’re interested in being featured in a guest blog entry, visit my Contact page above and shoot me a message!
Until next time,