This past weekend I rode my bike for the first time in what seemed like ages. When I first got on, it felt like the most unnatural thing in the world. The seat was like a slab of wood on my ass and I felt like the Hunchback of Notre Dame all curled over the handle bars. It took a solid 30 minutes for the movements to begin to feel organic to me again and by the end of the ride I was back to my usual pace.
I initially bought my bike on a whim lat summer and had no intention of enjoying it so much. But like Forrest Gump one day I just kept peddling and peddling and before you knew it, I was spending full Saturdays riding that sucker. I'd wake up early to get a 15 mile ride in before court and bought a little light for the handle bars so I could ride at night. No one was ever invited on my ride. It was and is entirely for me.
A few months ago I entered a relationship with someone I had loved for a long time. And I was elated. Every second we spent together was cherished and I never felt so natural and comfortable with someone. It was like I had fallen in love with my best friend. But with time, the dust on the bike started to grow. We both stopped doing the things we enjoyed doing for ourselves and by ourselves. Of course we had mutual interests such as hiking, traveling, sports, and the like, but I noticed a hole growing within me. A vast space that needed to be filled.
So, I made the mistake most people would make in that situation. I used my relationship to fill those gaps I was feeling. Instead of taking care of myself, I took care of her. I worked on "us" instead of me. And instead of admitting that I was struggling as an individual, I started focusing on ways that we were struggling as a couple.
The truth is, it's easier to work on a problem that isn't entirely all about you. It's easier to direct your attention to someone else instead of yourself. Because who wants to sit home and actually think about what they want and why they want it? Or worse, figure out what the fuck is wrong with them? It's much more fun to wonder what we should do for date night or what to buy her for her birthday.
As you can probably predict, the relationship didn't fill any of those holes. In fact, it made new holes and what was once a healthy and functional dynamic soon became a cycle of repeated patterns. Communication turned to arguments. Trust turned to envy. Kindness turned to resentment. It was easier to torpedo a relationship than to face my own fears and insecurities.
Imagine if when the Titanic struck an iceberg, instead of sending women and children onto lifeboats, they'd loaded canons and fired shots at the Carpathia as it approached to rescue them. You can't fix a problem by creating new problems or finding new ways to avoid them. You can only fix the problem by facing it head on and handling it yourself.
And that, I've learned, is the area I am most unhealthy in right now.
I am negligent with my own needs.
I am reckless with my own heart.
I am careless with my own wants.
So now, after a loving and respectful conversation with the person I still love with my entire heart and value so highly, I am single once more. And frankly, that is the best thing I can hope for right now. Because as painful as getting back on that bike was the other day, the only way you can really start to move forward and practice self care is to sit down on the damn thing and start peddling.
Perhaps the thing I value the most about this person was their ability to call me out on my own shit and still demonstrate the love and respect for me that I deserve. Our mutual strength to walk away from what was becoming an unhealthy situation and our kindness towards each other in the process is something I will always appreciate and love about her and about myself.
So, here's to an undefined amount of self love, self respect and self value. Because I deserve it. And so do you.