Self-Love After The Break-Up
What do you do when your partner of almost four years ends your relationship? As soon as I heard the words ‘we need to talk’, halfway through a mouthful of Terry’s Chocolate Orange that had slowly turned sour in my mouth as the realisation hit (I’ll never be able to stomach a Chocolate Orange again), I knew what was coming. He was ending what had been, for me, the defining relationship of my adulthood. I didn’t expect it and the shock hit me like a tonne of bricks. What was I supposed to do now? Where would all the love go?
I’ve always been my own cheerleader – I’m an independent soul, someone who recharges by being alone and has always looked inwardly for validation, encouragement and celebration of my own little victories in life. I’ve never relied on my significant other’s love to feel validated. But as soon as the rug was pulled from under me and I no longer had that unconditional love and support to rely on, I felt naked and isolated, like I was on a cliff edge with nothing to hold on to, on the cusp of the freefall. It was terrifying and unfamiliar.
How did I even begin to navigate all of this? How did I stop feeling scared of my new future and start feeling liberated? When would the overwhelming feelings of loneliness and fear give way to a newfound sense of freedom? Truthfully, I was so frightened of life without someone to come home to, someone to regale with stories of my day, someone who was always available to me and always on my side. I was scared that no one would ever feel that way about me again. I was scared of putting the bins out on my own and dealing with big spiders. A major part of me knew that I would be more than okay, that I was enough, but the other part felt desperately sad for what I had lost and fearful of what was to come.
In the days and weeks that followed, I poured all of my energy into myself. I watched my favourite programmes (hello Sex and the City), I went to friends’ houses for dinner and drank rosé in pub gardens until gone 11pm, I bought brand new bedding and beautiful towels and I did only what made me feel joyous. I realised that not having another person to consider was liberating in a very new way. Suddenly, I didn’t have to share the remote, or engage in a half an hour discussion on what to have for dinner, or think about the next trip to see his parents. Every ounce of my precious energy was, and is, being spent on ME and no one else.
From now on, I’m choosing to focus on everything that is truly wonderful about my life, as of this moment. I am financially independent, I’ve got a great job and incredible friends and family. Taylor Swift’s new album just came out. I have a roof over my head, shoes on my feet and a bottle of wine in the fridge. I am okay.
In the beginning, it was the loss of the security that comes with a relationship that I found the hardest to cope with. Slowly but surely, I’m starting to realise that the security comes from me. I am my own anchor in a very real way – I call the shots, I pay the bills, I choose how I spend my time and who to spend it with. From this break up comes a new era of independence and self-indulgence. I have never felt more hopeful.
Lauren is a freelance writer based in Royal Tunbridge Wells. Find her talking about all things self-love on Instagram at @laurenkatebrook.