Words || Marleyna Palin
Hi Grapeshot Doc,
I have recently come out of a long-term relationship that totally failed, and I feel almost embarrassed when people find out me and my boyfriend have broken up.
Three years of my life was invested in this relationship, and now I have nothing to show for it. A lot of my friends have partners and are really happy in their relationships; I guess I just feel like they’re succeeding where I failed.
How do I get out of this mind frame, so I can start feeling confident in myself and move forward?
First of all girl, my heart goes out to you, it really does.
The thing that really stood out to me in your letter was your use of the word ‘failure’. The way you used it to speak about yourself, and your previous relationship. This, my dear, is something we need to fix ASAP. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand how you’re feeling. I too recently came out of a long-term relationship. That relationship was abusive and toxic and so it was hard not to see failure when I looked in the mirror. I looked back on the 5 years I spent in that relationship, and honestly went “what the actual fuck did I just waste a quarter of my life on?”
While you might feel like your relationship was a ‘failure’, it wasn’t. You gained something out of it, and your time was most certainly not ‘wasted’. It might be hard to see right now under that cloud of resentment, blame, and tears, but you walked away with something more valuable than a partner you clearly didn’t belong with.
For starters, you learnt your deal breakers. The things you need from a partner, and the things that you can’t stand. These can range from important things, like wanting someone who is good with money, to really small things, like wanting someone who loves the same TV shows as you. That’s cool! Now you know you gotta kick the Khaleesi haters to the curb.
Did you hate it when he kept the entirety of his wardrobe on the floor?
You need someone who is tidy.
Was his mum batshit crazy?
You need someone with a beautiful and welcoming family.
You two weren’t doing the deed enough each week?
You need someone whose sex drive matches yours.
This ‘failed’ relationship is not a fail, because you now have a much clearer idea of what you need from a partner. You’ve gotta kiss some frogs before you find your person, but knowing your deal breakers helps avoid a few bumps along the way. The second someone you’re seeing presents with these potentially negative traits, you can identify it, and immediately brush them off with a “no no no, not today Satan, I’m out”.
Secondly, this relationship was not a failure, because a better, stronger you will come out of this.
When you leave a relationship, you are emotionally battered. Whether you’re still friends with your ex, or you want to run them over with a semi-trailer, something bad probably went down for your relationship to have ended, and that can often leave you with some pretty hard feelings about the person you’ve become.
But you my dear, are still here, you’re still standing. After all that time you spent growing and learning about yourself, this ending only gives you a chance to rebuild, stronger and better than before. This ‘fresh start’ will look different for each of us. For some, it’s a drastic haircut because ‘he liked it best when you had long hair’. For others it’s a new career you didn’t pursue because he always said, ‘interior design is stupid’. For me, it was boxing lessons. That shit’s empowering.
Exercise, writing, new clothes, new hobbies, a trip to Kmart, a holiday to Bali. You need to pick up the pieces, put yourself back together and show yourself that your relationship wasn’t a failure, because it turned you into this kickass woman.
The god-awful feeling of heartbreak is something that unites us all. It will get better for you, because you are going to take control of it. This ‘failure’ is going to lay the foundations for the rest of your amazing life, and just like me, in a few months time you’re going to look around and go holy shit, I can’t believe how utterly happy I am.