I did not know my own strength
until I left my former partner's apartment
for the last time.
Down the stairs in the hallway,
to the door that led to the street.
At the bottom, I reached the depths of me,
the depths of what I could do for myself.
I pulled, and the door opened.
I walked through and out.
And there was no turning back.
It took hours before I found enough of me that had been scattered all throughout our intertwined lives and around various rooms of his flat.
Before I could reach into myself, find all of me there, and take the courageous path toward the final exit.
From the time eggs were cooked in the morning, to him telling me how I pretty I looked after and asking me to join him on the couch; to taking a deep breath, to holding space, to breaking, to witnessing, to breaking further; to finally pulling open the door to leave, at least seven hours had gone by.
We sat with each other and all of the emotions that came and went and came again. We had been in the relationship together, and we were in the breaking together, as well.
I am choosing to share this because it was powerful; it was a series of moments during which my own deep truth was exposed and accessible to me, and what I had to do was sit with it and let it come.
It is incredibly difficult to watch something we love so much, and have built up and committed to with love and dedication and compassion and vulnerability, leave our lives. It can be a job, a friendship, a home, a romantic partnership, the death of a loved one. It is even harder to allow it, really truly and without resistance, allow it to leave our lives, and then sit in the huge space it creates after it goes.
While I sat on the couch, as I had so many times before, across from the man who had been my partner in everything, whom I saw my future self with, and instead witnessed our ending, everything about myself was breaking open.
And my ego, in its attempt to hold it all together and keep the unknown at bay, desperately tried to cling to any piece of reality that hadn't yet crumbled. Tried to talk its way out of accepting the truth of what was coming out and revealing itself in an undeniable way.
But my soul voice, the one that said, "Hold it steady, girl," won out. She held me in my pain.
The power of who I am at my very core, at my deepest level, carried me through the first hours of the breaking like I had never been carried or held by anyone before. I certainly had never held myself in that way before.
We had become a pile of tissues and truth. One fed the other and led to more of it.
I remember saying to him, as I packed my belongings that had been in their own reserved places around his apartment, that I was physically removing myself from his life.
It was an observation, not an accusation. And he nodded.
We both cried.
There was anger, my anger. But my anger was not for him. I was angry that I was experiencing loss and I hadn't wanted to lose him. I was angry that things couldn't just 'work' and be ok for us. I was angry that I had to let him go and let myself go, too. And find my path and my way forward with a gigantic space in my life. I had told myself, had let myself believe, that this would not happen for me again. And yet.
As I sat there with him, watching and witnessing us break ourselves and our future open and turn it all to ash, I also knew and felt deeply that there was something truly nourishing about this. That there was something fertile, something to grow from, a way to rise from the ashes of a deep love lost. I knew it with all of me, and my ego would catch up. And it did.
And I also knew that it would be painful and dark and would bring me to the very depths of myself. It would show me everything I was made of and everything I could make myself into. But first I had to walk out the door.
So after hours of supportive dismantling, because we really did hold each other up in our pain as we broke, I had to make one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life. I was choosing to voluntarily walk out and away from the man who had been the greatest romantic love of my life, so far. Even as I write this, I am tearing up, remembering how painful and conflicted and raw that decision felt.
But it was also moments of great clarity. I focused solely on my physical movement, on my forward steps. I was present for what I was doing.
Doing for myself.
I made it out into the hallway and we looked at each other for a long moment. Then I turned, opened the door, and headed down, without looking back, and out, and to the last threshold I would cross before I left him and his space completely behind me.
I stood for a moment, looking at the heavy door at the bottom of the stairs. I pulled. It opened.
I stepped out into the night, and like a mechanical creation, I kept moving, kept walking.
On the ride home, I cried, I breathed. I thanked the universe for our time together, I sobbed.
I blessed him and I blessed truth, and I blessed my broken heart. There was no sound other than my audible crying and the soothing voice of my higher self as I drove along. The city passed by me on the left side, and I hardly noticed. The woods guided me home as I got nearer to my place, and I barely glanced at them. I knew the next time I would see them, it would be with different eyes. For now, all I could see was the road and my personal blend of salt water.
When I arrived at my place, alone and exhausted, the empty, dark interior gave me a new space to break all over again. I was in my own four walls now, and I could really experience my full self. And I did. And it was loud and devastating and messy and so very sad.
But it was all me.
All because of something so profound, that it created such a momentous release when it left.
And I realized that there is a huge difference in how endings can look and feel.
They can break you down; leave you with nothing, strip you of your identity, take everything you thought you'd ever have and fill you with emptiness and questions. They can leave you shattered and splintered and so desolately empty.
Or, they can break you open; there is loss and grief and profound sadness, a large space in your life that is truly to be felt in big ways; but your sense of identity is still fully intact, you still know why you are here and what you are doing in this world, you can feel beyond the deep grief and loss and into something that is light-filled--that is gratitude and joy for all that had been there, and all that was experienced, and how it had changed you and made you more expansive and awoken to who you are and where you are going on your life path. For all the beauty and the time and the gentle guidance that was there all along. For the opportunity to get to know yourself even more intimately because you can access new depths of pain, and therefore, joy. That is broken open.
And I knew from very early in the experience of my pain and loss, that broken open, so would I also rise. From my own ashes, from the depths of me, grounded in my truth and the rich stuff that I am made of, later to blossom into something that I could not even begin to fathom.
That is broken open.
The gateway to a new dimension of the self.
A new woman waiting to be greeted and welcomed in.
A fierce way to experience self-love and appreciation for life.
All of life, the gratitude and the pain. The joy and the loss.
All of that is what it means to be broken open.
And for everything it is, it is absolutely + undeniably beautiful.
Shanti to me, and to anyone else sitting in this broken open space.
I see you and you are not alone.