If timing is everything then, according to the law of syllogism, I am bad at everything. I have a knack for getting myself involved in important things just before I’m about to leave town. And I’m almost always about to leave town.
The important thing that I most typically get myself involved in, it seems, is a relationship —a long distance relationship, to be exact. You could sort of say that’s my thing. Right before I left study abroad in Spain, I fell for someone. Right before I graduated college, I fell for someone. And in true Elyssa fashion, right before I left Chile, I fell for someone. But this someone was different from the other someones, and we were going to make it work.
My previous relationships—the two that I would actually qualify as relationships—lasted no more than five months each and, both times, I spent three of those holding on to someone who was slowly letting go of me. When I found someone—a special, perfect someone— who was enthusiastically and confidently holding me in return, I didn’t want to let go, and I held on for too long.
We were, I wholeheartedly believe, doomed from the very start. But when I left Chile for Spain in July, he already had a trip planned to Europe in October, making an obviously bad idea seem dangerously harmless. Still, I cursed the poor timing and secretly wished that life had the Amazon “Save for Later” feature that I could use for great men.
A year and four months later, the inevitable happened. Our relationship ended and we wondered if we let it go on for too long. What had been the best relationship of our lives thus far was quickly tainted with tension and tears. We were simply at different stages in life. He’s craving stability; I’m itching to see the world. We couldn’t give each other enough of what we wanted and yet we had spent so long investing in each other in hopes of I don’t know what—that magic would happen, I guess. The tricky thing about love is that we simply can’t know if it’s meant to last forever until it already has— or hasn’t. And letting go, before something has gone sour, has never been my strong suit. They say to go out with a bang, but it’s easier to let things fizzle.
Something happened in the past year and a half. And I’m not sure if it can be attributed to the stress of being in a long distance relationship or the state of constant anxiety I experienced by living in terrible places or from continuing a job that doesn’t fulfill, and often aggravates, me—it’s most likely a combination of all of these. All I know is that I’ve strayed so far from where I want to be—from my former self. It hit me when I realized that the hardest part of my breakup wouldn’t be getting over my ex, but getting back to myself. I had drifted so far from that self, not because of anything that was demanded or expected of me, but simply because it was the wrong relationship for the wrong time. I was in such a transient place, holding on so tightly to something so steady. And though I saw myself as invincible, that type of strain inevitably does damage.
It was easy to be with him. So easy that I didn’t realize I shouldn’t.
I used to stay up all night writing and editing photos, I used to consistently research new bands and listen to music and, lame as it may sound, I used to pride myself on my witty Facebook and Twitter updates. I let those things fall by the wayside in the past year and a half, and the fact that I have only myself and the way I dealt with adversity to blame for that makes it that much harder to get back to trusting myself and, dammit, loving myself.
It’s possible that I used the relationship to hide from all my other problems—focusing outward, on someone else, inevitably eliminates some self-reflection. Maybe I didn’t want to accept that I hated my job, that I was treading water, that I was reeling from trauma, that I was terrified of my house, that I was miserable in a place I imagined I’d be so happy, that I’ve yet to determine my next step. And more than hiding with my boyfriend, he was a great support to me in those times of struggle. And some of those problems are still problems, but I’m working on them by myself.
Now that I’ve done what I felt was impossible—letting go—I’m attempting what I know is vital: I’m restoring the parts of me that atrophied, collecting the pieces of me that scattered as I spent my time worrying about myself only in relation to others. It’s back to just me. Back to being good at things that are important to me—back to knowing what those things are. And in time, back to fearlessness.
I have no regrets. Sure, it would have hurt less and been easier to move on if we had ended it sooner, but we always would have wondered what could have happened, how it would have panned out. We saw it through to the bleeding end. Out with a fizzle, the way I preferred.
Have you ever fallen in love at a bad time? Have you ever lost yourself in a relationship, or let it become a bigger priority than it should have been at the time?