“How do you remember?” I asked her, sitting in the all too familiar sofa chair of my therapist’s office.
“Remember what?” she said, looking at me in a sympathetic manner.
“How do you remember who you were before they crashed into you? How do you remember what you wanted, and what your hopes were? In a way, everything changed when I fell in love. I think about the things I crave, the places I desire to go, and I always imagine her right there with me — they are shackled to my wants, they are embedded into my daydreams. She was a huge part of my life, she was my life. I can’t imagine it without her. How do you remember who you were before they became a part of you, before they made themselves at home within your ribcage?”
My therapist looked at me and said in a commiserating tone:
“Well, it takes time. It’s a process, an unlearning. You have to endure it and trust that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. You have to stop thinking about them and remember who you were before they came into your life. Remind yourself that you were okay without them, that you lived all these years without them and you were doing just fine. Just like you will be fine again”.
See, when you love someone deeply, when you truly, and unapologetically love someone, they grow into the roots of you. You have to pull them out like weeds.
You have to shower them out of your hair. Over time you need to scrub away their memory, peel them off of yourself like old skin.
You have to delete the pictures and throw out the gifts. Wash them from your sheets and rinse yourself off of them. Leave no trace of them behind.
It’s not about pretending that you two never happened. It’s reminding yourself how life was without them.
Remember how your morning used to start without a good morning text from them. And how the nights used to look like without them by your side.
You have to accept the fact that you let them leave with so many pieces of you. You have to forgive yourself for loving yourself thin, for forgetting about the things you wanted to do because you were so busy trying to please them.
You loved hard and it didn’t work out. That’s okay. When a good thing goes bad it’s not the end of the world, it’s just the end of the world that you had with one person. Your life together may be over. But your life isn’t.
You have to build yourself up again.
Pay more attention to the things that light up a fire inside your soul. What gets you going. What truly makes you happy. It’s just you now. No one to please, no one to answer to.
You’re free to do as you desire.
So, pay attention to the music that makes your heart skip a beat, the new food you want to try. The places you want to travel to. Pay more attention to the things that make you laugh, make you smile. Really figure out what compels you, try and figure out what you want to discover in this world and challenge yourself to make an impact.
Pick up a new hobby, something you maybe always wanted to do but never had the time to get around. Learn a new language, move to a new city. Book a weekend getaway all for yourself and disconnect.
Take yourself out on dates. Enjoy the little things and learn to love yourself. All of you. The flaws, the weaknesses, the part of you that makes you, you. Unconditionally and unequivocally.
You have your entire life ahead of you. Please don’t think for a second that the person who you were with, defined who you were. You were beautiful before they came along. And you’re beautiful even after they walked away.
You have a unique opportunity to grow, what do you not like about yourself? Where did you make a mistake? Analyze your behavior and patterns and take hard actions to make healthy adjustments.
Be a better you.
Remember who you were and remind yourself of what you’re capable of accomplishing.
You have to pay attention. You spent so much of your time simply focusing on what someone else wanted from you. You spent so much of your energy being exactly who they needed, and now it is time to figure out exactly what you need, exactly what you want. It’s time to pay attention the call of your own heart, it’s time to nurture yourself. To say yes to yourself, to give yourself permission to be happy, to give yourself permission to dream out loud.
It’s time — time to realize the potential you always silenced in their presence. Time to survive without them. Time to fall back in love with yourself.
It’s not an easy process. There’s no timetable for this. It’s not a birthday or event you can countdown to. You won’t know when it is. Just know that it'll come.
This process takes time — my God does it take time.