When I was working, I used to pass by those sitting without a care at some cafe having a leisurely breakfast and I’d be like, “Who are these people? Why are they so free?”
I’m now one of them 🙂 On Friday, I lugged my laptop to one of my favourite cafes in the hood and plonked myself down on one of those very on-trend communal tables. There was a group of women to my right, mothers it seemed like it, catching up with each other or having a brief respite before heading back to their kids / jobs, etc.
One of them was trying to hold back her tears. She was talking about her partner.
“I know he’s really sweet. And he’s so thoughtful and nice and my parents adore him and so do I but it’s just SO HARD. He just doesn’t get it.”
I caught a quick glimpse of her. Her face tortured (and her mind probably too). She probably hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in ages. I know that face. It was mine not so long ago. Those words were more or less mine too.
Her friends were concerned but like mine at that time, they didn’t want to cross THE LINE. So they were supportive, telling her they would support her no matter what she decided. It was all I could do to reach over, hold her hand and tell her:
I know he’s nice but it doesn’t matter
I know he’s a great father but it doesn’t matter
I know he’s sweet and thoughtful but it doesn’t matter
I know you love him but it doesn’t matter
Because if all these mattered, you wouldn’t be at a cafe right now trying to hold back your tears. Because being sweet and kind aren’t what makes a relationship, good. Neither does whether you love him or not.
It might sound harsh but I remember a night at the pub not so long ago. When I met a good friend and she asked me, “How I was doing?” And I started weeping and blabbering about my boyfriend at that time, telling her he was so sweet and kind and he adored me and I adored him. I was willing her to crack the puzzle, the puzzle I couldn’t crack – why I was feeling like this if someone loved me. I remember her looking at me and saying, “okay so you would rather go on loving him than be happy?”
It was like a penny dropped. I WASN’T happy. I hadn’t been happy in a long while but I had been so caught up with trying to work on my relationship that I’d forgotten about my happiness. That night was a game changer. Something re-arranged itself around my psyche. It sounds so simple but before that it never occurred to me I was so unhappy or that my happiness was an entity independent of my relationship.
Nothing magically sorted itself out after that day. I didn’t immediately break up. Life and relationships are way more complicated than that. But from that day, I put myself first. Not my boyfriend, not my relationship. And I stopped focusing on all his great qualities. I wanted to be happy again so I focused on what was making me unhappy and whether we could solve that. I stopped letting his great qualities become part of the equation.
It made things simpler. It made the process easier. And it gave me permission to let go of a nice, kind, sweet person and move on.