Monday, 13 February 2017

My Thoughts on Toxic Relationships and Why Being Single is Wonderful

As you're probably aware, it's Valentine's Day tomorrow. It will be the first one I've spent alone since I was fourteen years old. During the past eleven years, I've gone from one long term relationship to another - eleven years of euphoric highs, extreme lows and a lot of the time, putting someone else's needs before my own.

My most recent break up was my biggest and steepest learning curve. A few months ago I walked away from an incredibly unhealthy relationship that left me mentally and emotionally exhausted. I was heartbroken; although not in the way you may think.

I was heartbroken because I couldn't stand the person I'd become. I was cynical, bitter and miserable. I no longer blogged or took photographs or did any of the things I once loved. My self esteem was cripplingly low. I had zero motivation to do anything or go anywhere. I'd spent months - maybe even years - pandering to someone else's needs, failing to realise that my mental health was in utter shambles.

The fortnight that followed was a bit of a blur. I got up. I fed myself. I went to work. I cried to my mom on the phone every night, sometimes for hours on end. I continued to post on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook as if everything was fine and dandy - only those closest to me knew how devastated I was.

Eventually, the smoke started to clear and I found myself wondering why I'd spent so long with someone who made me so unhappy. Of course, it all boiled down to the old cliche: I was scared of being alone.

I hear about so many people who stay in toxic relationships or excuse disgraceful behavior because they're scared of being alone - I'm sure it's something many of us have been guilty of at some point. We want someone waiting for us at home after a particularly taxing day at work, someone to share breakfast in bed with and someone to rant to when we're stressed.

I have to ask though: are these reasons worth staying with someone who makes you so unbearably miserable?

There is a certain stigma that surrounds single life, particularly if you're a woman. People assume you're not fulfilled or that you're desperately seeking 'the one.' I'm sure I speak for many when I say that this is simply not the case. Once I'd gotten over the initial shock of my breakup, I realised how much I needed to focus on myself and relished my new found independence. I started taking ballet classes for the first time in five years. I made new friends. I booked a trip to Paris with my mom. I began living life for myself again.

“ are defined by how you live your life, not whom you live it with, and certainly not by what you gave up to be with that person.” 
- Greg Behrendt, It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken

Of course, I'm not saying that being single is 'better' than being in a relationship. Healthy relationships are absolutely wonderful and I totally applaud those couples who support and nourish each other 100%. However, being single is a million times better than staying in a relationship that's toxic. It's better than putting all your time and energy into someone who cheats or abuses you or just makes you feel like shit. It's better than the constant worry and anxiety that comes with wondering where your partner is, what they're doing or how they're feeling.

Although it's not been easy - in fact, at times I remember thinking I wasn't sure how I was going to survive (as dramatic as that sounds) - I can say with 100% confidence that I'm so much happier being on my own right now. I feel liberated in ways I never thought possible. I've proved that I'm capable of taking care of myself, and that I'm the sole source of my own happiness - not anybody else.

"In the end, only you can make you happy."
- Greg Behrendt, It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken

Tomorrow morning - do I wish I was being showered with flowers and treated to breakfast in bed? Sure, but I'm satisfied I won't be waking up next to someone who doesn't make my heart sing. If the past eleven years have taught me anything, it's what I do and don't want in a relationship. And in the future, I won't be making excuses for someone's actions or be settling for anyone who makes me feel like I did last year.

So, here's to being alone (but never lonely) - it really is rather wonderful. x

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to hear you went through all that. I'm glad you're in a better place now!