Learning to like myself (post-break up)

It sounds like a back-to-school essay topic. What did you do last summer? But it’s not the essay I planned on writing.

I started my summer with a break-up.

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Here I am, desperately trying to have fun.

It’s OK, I’m not outraged. But I was. Deeply. Explosively. Outraged. I’ve been through the stages of grief, and by grace, I’ve landed on acceptance. But this wasn’t what I wanted.

We were just a few months shy of being together for three years, and then it was over. Our relationship had been strained for awhile, mostly because we were actively building our own lives in separate states, but ending what we had didn’t make sense to me. I was offended. I was humiliated. I felt destroyed.

I don’t know if God was behind what happened or if God is just good at pulling Light out of darkness. But I have enough distance now to see why ending our relationship made sense. Some days, I can even give thanks to God that it happened. We had no idea what we were doing. For both of us, it was our first real relationship. We wrestled our way into coming out together, and we learned about vulnerability and authenticity – we went through a lot. We questioned everything. And at the same time, we were falling deeper and deeper into God’s grace. We had our certainties destroyed yet discovered a gospel greater than what we’d known. The tragedy is that something we worked so hard to build, something vital to the stories of who we are and how we got there, crashed. Those three years of being together – praying, fighting, compromising, loving – all wasted. Or at least that’s how it felt.

Those years were precious. I have to remember that. Those were good years.

I wonder now if going through the crash, being crushed, is what it took for me to learn to like myself. I know. I’m a masochist. But there’s a lot of shit I’d been ignoring.

I ignore a lot of things.

I compartmentalize. I avoid conflict. I don’t listen to myself, and it’s stolen my sense of identity. Who am I? I didn’t know.

It was easier to compromise, to shut down anything unpleasant, to shunt aside negative thoughts about others. Forgive and forget. The thing is, this relationship made me feel good. Because someone adored me. This wasn’t the first time, it was just a lot less unhealthy than the others (but still, unhealthy). I didn’t like me for myself. I liked being liked. Like someone else could do the work that I couldn’t do.

It felt good.

And then it didn’t. (It only works for so long.)

At a certain point, the sobbing ended, and the break-up began to feel like waking up. I could see how I had been holding myself back, compromising in order to “keep a good thing going.” This is what freedom feels like. It feels like you’re dying, like the pain is going to kill you. Then you wake up.

I woke up. It’s nearly impossible to map out the exact process. It didn’t happen instantly. There was lots of sorrow. After several victories of “moving on,” I fell back into the mind-games of denial, spiraled right back into my insecurities. So I’d climb my way back up and out. So much climbing. Until one day it dawned on me that in spite of all my climbing, I’d fallen even deeper. Into acceptance and into the Light. It was the Light that showed me my hurt, the ways I was unhealthy, a glimpse into the goodness at my core. This was peace. That maybe I didn’t have to climb anymore.

There are still a lot of shitty things about me. I’m impatient, impulsive, and worthless when it comes to detail-oriented work. Sometimes, I ignore people. I could go on and on with a list of vices and flaws. But here’s the point. I didn’t wake up to the realization that I’m perfect. No. What I woke up to was the understanding that I am someone. To think that I am not good enough without him (or anyone) is absurd. Stupid. So dumb. How did I ever get stuck thinking that way?

Because I’m actually pretty lovely. I can see that now.

I am seeing God in me the way I’ve always been able to see God in others. I was made in the image of God.

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from rupi kaur’s poetry collection “milk and honey”

4 thoughts on “Learning to like myself (post-break up)

  1. Thank you for writing this post, it is inspiring. I am certain that every one can identify with the feeling that abandonment leaves in its wake and the immense grief of loss of love in ones life. The process is both painful and long, but eventually when you make it through, you go on a journey of self discovery that teaches you a great deal.

    I hope you have learned from this experience and that you go forward with new knowledge and self acceptance. I hope he regrets leaving you, because clearly you gave so much love. I hope you find someone who loves you in the same way you have learned to love yourself. Most importantly, I hope for your happiness.

    Sending strength and love,
    M.O.A

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Hye Sung, for exposing your healthy vulnerability – what a model for many of us. In the secular world, I found a book, recommended by my therapist, “Codependent No More” to be immensely helpful in recognizing myself and growing beyond my previous down-on-myself and fearful insecurities. It was not a complete – it did not delve into spirituality; so your path certainly seems to offer a more complete “map” suitable for you. But what I also want to say is that over the years, I loaned the “Codependent No More” book to several of my friends who were “stuck” in patterns of ultimately destructive relationships in their lives. Each “worked” on herself, not to acquire more skills, but to begin to really like herself as she was, to see her gifts, to gain self-esteem and self-confidence. While she did this, she intentionally spent time with friends, but not dating. After a period of this work, when she was more whole and integrated in herself, each, without even intentionally setting out to do so, attracted the attention of a healthy partner and is now engaged in healthy and enduring relationship that nourishes both partners. So what I’m saying to you, friend, is I hope you can relax, let go, learn to deeply like and trust yourself – and trust Spirit to open you and the way for you. Prayers and blessings, friend. So glad we met in Pisac!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This has really got me thinking right now.

    My boyfriend and I decided to call it quits about 2 and a half months ago, after being together for almost 6 years, and it has been the hardest 2 months and a half months of my life. But now that I’m reading what you wrote, I realize that deep down inside I am feeling what you were feeling. I know that I loved him, but I loved that fact more that he loved me. I did everything and anything to please him and make him happy because I loved the way he loved me when I made him happy. I made him happy in order to avoid conflict, even if that meant sacrificing my own happiness at times or giving up a part of me. I know relationships are a tough things to talk about, direct or even understand, and really I am still just trying to wake up each morning with hope that something will change in me that will make me happy.

    I’m still waiting for my day.

    Liked by 1 person

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