Saying no, to say yes

There’s no easy way to break up with someone. Regardless of who comes to the point of realizing the relationship isn’t working – even if you both agree – someone always gets hurt.

While going through my first, [significant relationship] break up at the age of 28, I cried so hard my eyes were nearly swollen shut. I whaled in agony on the shoulder of one of my closest friends.

“I can literally feel my heart being ripped apart.”

Kimmy was all too familiar at the time, as she recently weathered a divorce, which often left her curled up in her walk-in closet, while her toddler was at day care. If anyone knew heartbreak, it was Kimmy.

“I know, honey. I know. What do you think all those songs are about? All those sappy movies? Everybody goes through this – and it sucks.”

I appreciated her trying to talk me off the ledge, and taking me in when I couldn’t bear sleeping alone.

The months following my newly found single status were a mixture of tears, alcohol, and sleeping way too much. Too depressed to eat, I dropped a few dress sizes, and lost an insane amount of energy. I don’t recommend the Heartbreak Diet to anyone.

Fast forward fifteen years, and it isn’t any easier. Sure, we’re wiser in our older age, but when it comes to matters of the heart – aren’t we all just as fragile?

I don’t have much experience playing offense in a relationship. I’ve always been the one on the receiving end of the news that I wasn’t the one. As I work on myself in therapy, I’m learning that my love patterns make perfect sense. I chose unavailable men to avoid getting hurt. It’s an emotional oxymoron, I know, but if you’re dealing with trust issues or come from a long line of unhealthy relationships, you’re probably nodding in agreement.

Self-esteem is something that happens when we take care of ourselves. We stand up for what we believe, protect our hearts from abuse, and surround ourselves with people who live their lives with dignity and respect.

As I write the chapters in my story, the low self-esteem is so apparent, it sometimes jumps off the page. I’m often frozen in my typing tracks, hovering between tears and head shakes, realizing, with every story, just how obvious my choices were.

Sometimes it takes looking back, to realize just how much you want to move forward.

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My relationship rear view mirror has never been clearer these days. I am learning that for me to say “yes” to myself – for my own personal growth and self-esteem, I sometimes need to say “no”. We don’t have to allow ourselves to be in unhealthy situations. We have the choice to walk away.

It’s far from easy, and the tears still fall, but the reward for knowing we are worth saying “yes” to, far outweighs the reasoning of why we’re in unhealthy relationships in the first place.

“Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is believing you’re worthy of the trip.”

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Here’s the part where you tell me – have you ever said “no” to someone, to say “yes” to yourself?

Christine Macdonald