They say you always remember your first. It was two months after we had started dating and external stressors had become too much for me to handle. That was the first time I broke up with my boyfriend. It was too much but mostly I was too scared. Petrified of letting my heart get in so deep without an escape route. Fear can be all controlling and alters your perception of reality so that you no longer see yourself in the mirror, but just a reflection of can’ts and won’ts. By the time we began dating, I had been divorced for nearly four years. My soul was weary from doing life alone. I wanted a partner. I thought I had done all the internal work needed for a successful partnership. And to a large extent, I had, but the demon of happiness remained unearthed. We grow up believing that happiness is an expectation of life, like breathing and taxes. But when life takes a proverbial shit on our heads, we are outraged. The truth is happiness is not assumed in life. It is a task, a daily task that requires conscious, mindful work, and effort. Like any task, there is a fear of failure. The fear that I may not be enough, I may not deserve what lies before me. This clears the stage for our beloved friend, self-sabotage.
Now, I may have had legitimate fears to end our relationship multiple times but this is where I like to play a little game called fears vs concerns. Concerns are rooted in reality whereas fears usually manifest from anxiety. And like those super skinny mirrors in boutique change rooms, anxiety can’t always be trusted. A viable concern to end this relationship would have been the distance. We live about four hours away from one another and neither of us can move at this point. But oddly, that wasn’t what had me worried. In moments of sanguinity, I said that God would find a solution for us. I didn’t believe that God would bring us together without giving us the solution. It turns out solutions don’t arrive on silver platters presented before you but are more like digging expeditions. But my fears ran me a muk. A fear I wasn’t enough for him, fear that I and my erratic hand movements when I talk were too much, fear that he would get to know the real me and run. This idea was puzzling even to myself because I don’t have the energy for a daily skincare routine let alone to consciously fool and manipulate the man I’m dating into thinking I’m someone else. This was the internal dialogue in my head. Because never once did he ask me to be someone else, never once did he complain that I was too much or not enough of anything. It was as though the more he said I love you, the more scared I became. Asking myself who do you, love? Who is this person you speak of when I don’t even know myself? So I assumed he was wrong and naturally I was right. Hence, breakups 2-5. You know when you walk into a warehouse and it says we have been accident-free for ‘x’ amount of days? I morbidly joked that I should make him one that said, ‘it’s been 5 min since Daniella last broke up with me’.
My fiancee and I met on a Jewish dating app called Jswipe but I credit my dating coach with our success. It was her I called every time I felt the fear and panic rising in my throat. It was she who assured me I was worthy of love, worthy of being loved, and worthy of giving love. As much Pema Chodron and Brene Brown as I can read, and as enlightened as I may like to think of myself, I needed help. I needed saving from the darkest parts of myself that were feeding my anxieties, lies, and mistruths.
I truly believe that we just aren’t meant to do life alone. It may not be the accompaniment of a romantic partner or children but it is people who nourish your soul and engage your mind.
The sixth time I initiated a break up, he simply looked at me and said “No, it’s not happening, this break up isn’t happening.”
So it’s now been a whole bunch of days since I last attempted a break-up. When I am overcome by the feels and my heart feels a little more emo than usual, I try my very best to articulate it. I don’t always win at this and there are times I pull away to feel like I am protecting myself. And there are also times I should probably just have a snack and the world will seem ok once more.