Immediately after high school, I fell hard for one of my best friends. On the surface we seemed like the perfect couple. Soon we went away to college together, shared a car, a dog, a bank account, and a bedroom.
Our life together continued after graduation, and we moved to the closest big city. Everything seemed okay—happy even—at the time. We had good jobs, supportive families, and thought we were living the twenty-something’s dream. I imagined living that way my whole life.
Then one day someone mentioned our lifestyle might not be the healthiest and suggested we consider getting married. My parents divorced when I was young, so my view of marriage wasn’t all that positive. But it still seemed like the logical next step. To me that is.
After many tear-filled discussions, my boyfriend decided it wasn’t the next step for him. And that’s when I realized our relationship had been off the whole time. While I believed our relationship to be mutual and reciprocal, at its core it wasn’t. I was more committed. I was more “in” than he was. I just didn’t realize it until we started talking about getting married.
All four years of living and loving and doing life together had been lopsided, and in many ways a mirage.
I was devastated. I had to find a new place to live, separate our finances, and buy my portion of our car. Worse, I felt like the four long years I spent in that relationship were a lie. A hoax. I felt like I had been punked. And by my best friend, no less.
To say it took me a while to recover is a massive understatement. I had no real idea of who I was as an individual because I had never been single as an adult. My identity was wrapped up in this other person who was no longer in my life. I had to figure out who I was, what I believed, and how to exist in the world by myself.
In the thirteen years since I got out of that unhealthy relationship, I’ve come to realize my time wasn’t wasted. As cliche as it sounds, I had to find myself. The lifestyle I was living wasn’t healthy. But it is part of my story, and it led me to the life I live today. To a marriage where both my husband and I are equally committed to our relationship. To a family that is big and beautiful. To a perspective on life that allows for mistakes with grace, patience, and love.
I think love rules the world. It just took a while for it to rule mine. It might take a while for you too. But take heart because your best story is still being written. Love is always the final word.
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