By Arese Sylvester.
One year ago, I made a conscious decision to choose myself. Two months later, I broke up with the best partner I’ve ever had. It wasn’t a bad breakup, but it was a complicated one. It was borne out of resentment and a feeling of frustration that built up slowly until it imploded on us one cold night. Our communication was great, but I kept having to repeat myself. I kept having to address an issue multiple times. Sometimes, it felt like I was alone, speaking into a void.
It wasn’t supposed to feel like that, we were in a committed relationship, and we loved each other. We were supposed to be a team. I signed onto that relationship to love and be loved, not to feel like a nag that kept trying to change them. Soon, we fell into a cycle, and each time I had to bring up the same issue again, I fell a little out of love with them. My anxiety skyrocketed because I was so scared of the way a once blissful relationship now made me feel. That’s when I decided to move on.
My ex is not a bad person, but that relationship left me with scars. I was an expressive person in the beginning, and I was big on communication. Now, I can barely muster the gall to tell my best friends that I feel neglected. It’s not because I’m shy or non-confrontational; it’s because I’m scared that I’ll hate them. I no longer trust that they’ll listen the first time I address it, and I’m scared that I’ll keep bringing it up until I resent them. It’s terrible that I cannot offer them the benefit of the doubt, but my anxiety cannot risk it.
However, this concept is specially reserved for my best friends. My trauma runs in the opposite direction for people I don’t love as deeply. I don’t expect people to be perfect, I expect them to do things that irritate or hurt me, but I also expect to only address it once. If it repeats itself, then I know that they’re not meant to be in my life, and I will kick them out of it. I’ve been told that it’s hasty, but I believe in protecting myself and protecting our memories.
I had the best memories with my ex, but I can barely stand to think of them without thinking of all the fake promises of change and the gaslighting. I can’t help but let the feeling of resentment creep back in because we truly could have had it all. I don’t want to feel this way about all my relationships. I deserve to think back on the moments that made me happy with a smile that won’t break off.
Cutting people off before they overstep offers me control. It also allows me to stand by my decision to choose myself. I maintain the position that if I have to keep bringing up something that bothers me in the relationships I nurture, then I have to confront the fact that the people I care about do not care enough about me to actively decide to treat me better. And although confronting that hurts, I am intentional about surrounding myself with people that reciprocate my love.
About the writer: Arese Sylvester is a brilliant writer, editor, and storyteller from West Africa, Nigeria. Writing has been a constant in her life as she navigated awkward teenage phases and social nuisances. She explores and tells the stories of marginalized demographics while documenting lifestyle, culture, and politics through her vast experiences. Instagram and Twitter: @omgitsarese. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Picture retrieved from Pinterest.