Not so long ago, my heart broke. Right there, in the middle of the IKEA cafeteria, on a busy Saturday afternoon. I felt it. And I’m pretty sure I heard it too, among the other noises of plates clinking.
As I was enjoying my favourite meatballs with my ex, I was thinking about a recent insight I had gotten and thought I’d share it with him. In a conversation a few days earlier, I had realised that one of the reasons why I had left our relationship was because I didn’t know how to allow my inner self in that relationship bubble we’d built over the years.
On my journey getting to know her and letting her express herself, I’d learnt to give her space to be when I was on my own, or in certain specific environments where I was surrounded by others holding space for her to be, but then when I had to interact with my own partner, I couldn’t bring her with me, which made the relationship feel unfulfilling at times, or even smothering.
I’d only realised a few days earlier that the reason why I felt unhappy and torn between being in and being out, was because I didn’t allow her into our bubble. I would play with her, be with her in our secret space, but then when the time came to be in my relationship, I’d leave her out. Or ask her to hide under the bed. And she couldn’t do that anymore, so I did what I thought was best: I decided to be with her 24/7. I stepped out of the relationship and decided to start a new life with her. It had been an interesting adventure so far, but then, there I was, sitting at IKEA, eating Kotbullars, about to have an even more “interesting” conversation.
I wasn’t really used to talking about my deeper feelings with my partner so I thought I’d approach the topic with a prelude question, as I do. I asked him, pretty much out of the blue: “How much do you think we let our inner selves express themselves in our relationship?”. Honestly, that was more of a rhetorical question. I didn’t really expect a real answer. I thought I’d get an “I don’t know. Why?” that would just pave the way for me to explain my whole “inner-self-out-of-relationship-bubble” theory. But I did get an answer. One that I did not expect.
He lifted his head from his schnitzel and fries and, almost without hesitation, said “Probably not enough. Otherwise things might have been different.”. Oh. Ok… I wasn’t expecting that. And now I wanted to know more. Had he sensed that I hadn’t been fully in? “What do you mean?” I asked. “Well, at least I didn’t.” was his answer. What?! That’s not how this conversation was supposed to go. I was the one who hadn’t let her inner self express herself! I was the reason why our relationship hadn’t worked! What was he saying? I was confused. So, in an attempt to make things clearer, I asked for numbers: “On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being ‘not at all’ and 10 being ‘all the time’, how much did you let your inner self express itself?”.
And that’s when it happened. “Three.” he said. My heart choked. Yes, that’s exactly what it felt like. A hundred questions came rushing in. Why? in pole position, closely followed by What if?, which soon took the lead. Confusion, sadness, and the stinging pain of what could have been settled in as the weekend ended, and I was flying back home with my suitcases.
He was just about to move country and I had flown in to get my stuff back. As I ate my gelato at the piazza that afternoon, my heart ached. I felt like I was attending the funeral of a teenager. Burying hopes and expectations of someone that could have been so many things, but was gone too soon.
Breakups suck. And I for one have a terrible time letting go of past relationships. But as my dear friend and coach Tamara says, sometimes you need to let the old die, to let the new rise. And this is where I am right now. Mourning the old, holding my inner self by the hand, and letting her know that even though I’m sad, I am still there for her. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I’m doing my part, and trusting the process.
Have you been having a hard time letting go? Settling in with your new Self? Sticking the pieces back together? I’ve learned that sharing your story with people who get it can actually be very beneficial for the healing process. Let’s talk. I’d love to offer you a free reading to help you navigate your way through, and most importantly, a lot of Love.
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