I’m about to get personal again. Maybe it’s my recent battle with acid reflux and gastritis that has me feeling reflective; or maybe it’s the enlightened/emotional feeling I have after finishing season 5 of Orange is the New Black (seriously you’ve got to stick it through, it makes some powerful points about prison reform and social justice). But I’m sure everyone has had to answer this question at some point, “Should I stay or should I go?”
Whatever the situation, we’ve all been faced with this decision. Maybe it’s that crappy job that refuses to promote you or pay you for all the work you do, maybe you’re about to start college and can’t decide if you should stay local or bite the bullet and move away from your family and friends. Maybe you’ve just fought with your significant other about the same shit for the thousandth time and you’re genuinely concerned that you may end up on a real-life Orange is the New Black. Whatever the situation, a decision needs to be made and it’s probably to move on, but how? Your metaphorical suitcase may already be packed. But where are you going? What’s your plan? Maybe you’re still deciding. Well then, this, is for you.
I may have ended my relationship in February, but it was Christmas when I knew I needed to move on. Through a series of events, way to personal and complicated to get into here, I realised that I had fallen in love with a fairy tale that did not have a happy ending. We were doomed to repeat a cycle that was never going to result in lasting change. I was physically with him at the time so I’d be stuck had I done it there (maybe I would’ve been able to keep my stuff if I did it then) so I waited. Mostly to see if I was overreacting as people like to say I do. So I waited. I waited for things to get better, but deep down I knew that, that was my moment. So when that moment came again, I didn’t hesitate, I didn’t waver. I took a deep breath and calmly said, “I don’t want to do this with you anymore. I’m done.” I waited again. Not for his response, but for the pain to set in; the pain you’re supposed to feel when you break up or lose a loved one. Once I got over the initial shock of what-the-hell-did-I-just-do, I moved on. I went back to focusing on important things like completing the last leg of my internship, saving my butt for my performance review at work and actually having a social life for the first time in about 3 years. And maybe it’s because I was able to recognise in that moment, in the many moments that had manifested as a sign I should’ve left, that this wasn’t for me. I need to love myself better and that meant moving on.
Fast forward to this past weekend. In a previous post I mentioned that I am currently dating, as in open to seeing new people. There was someone interested in me and at one point it seemed promising, but I couldn’t overlook one key thing: He was just like my ex. All the things I complained about I saw in him, clear as day. And that’s when I knew it was time to move on from that as well. It’s not always easy to walk away from love, but solitude is far better than being mistreated in the name of “love”. It’s this king of self-respect you will need when making this decision for yourself. If I’ve learned anything about when to move on within the past two years, it’s these three key things:
1. If you’re putting in more than you’re getting out, then Get Out.
Confession Time: I can be very clingy. But that doesn’t mean that as soon as I realise that my needs aren’t being met, I won’t pull away from you and turn the coldest shoulder possible. See love is a two-way street, and it’s no fun being in love by yourself. Some people are takers. There are many reasons for this. They could either just be really selfish, or think so little of themselves, they can’t think of any other way they could possible please another human being; so they take with very little expectation to give anything in return. It’s important to recognise this early on. This is the type of person who is more likely to blame you for wanting so much out of life. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. LET IT GO! Start your next job search, invest in self-care. Create a plan to WALK AWAY.
2. People change for who and what they want to change for. You do not have that power.
I can’t stress this enough. So that guy or girl you met isn’t exactly a ten. Maybe they’ve got some bad habits or messed up political/religious views. You have got to know when you’ve met your match. Certain things aren’t so easy to change and if someone changes just to please you, it’s probably not going to be a permanent change because they have to pretend to be whatever makes you happy instead of who they really are. The change, or at least the desire to, has to come from within. You can’t make someone care about what you care about, even if it’s really important to you.
3. People will have opinions, but none of that matters.
So what if your ex is stalking your every move on social media and they’re going to find out you’re still alone? Who cares if that miserable chick who’s been hating on you since forever is probably going to try to use your heartbreak to put you down? Don’t ever live your life for other people. One of the reasons I was afraid to end my relationship is because I was afraid other people would see me as a failure. How could the marriage and family therapist not even keep a boyfriend? But is Keeping up Appearances (great British comedy btw) really that important? Or is it more important to maintain your dignity and your sanity? No one knows what you’re going through but you. So if you are in a bad situation, you can’t stay just because you’re afraid of the fallout. People will have something to say regardless of if you stay or go. You have to be able to live with the decision, no one else. Remember that.
Why am I still talking about my ex you ask? Because there’s a lot that I’m still processing. I may have been able to make the decision to move on but that doesn’t mean I don’t still feel. So I'll stop talking about him, when I'm ready, whenever that is. I'd rather get it out than keep it all in. And that’s probably the most important piece of wisdom I can leave you with. That pain you’re going to feel? That doesn’t mean you want them back. That’s your mind adjusting to change. And if you’re like me, you don’t like change. But I can honestly say, no matter what you’re about to walk away from, for whatever reason, it really does get better with time. You will come out of this stronger than ever (and hopefully wiser, but still hopeful).