The other day, I ended a budding relationship with a man I really like and respect and am attracted to.
Given how I've titled this post, that rather begs the question: "How is this an example of personal growth?"
I'll tell you.
Despite my Relationship PTSD (combined with my general difficulty acknowledging my own feelings), I let myself start something and I let myself FEEL. That's a win, in my book.
I was faced with a situation with which I didn't have any first hand experience - a situation that might have affected me at some point (actually, it was already beginning to). While I knew what I was beginning to feel for the man, I didn't know how I felt about the situation. I needed to figure that out.
So I did what I typically do when faced with an unknown - I researched. I talked to friends and collected their stories. They also provided me with stories from THEIR friends and family members. And I read up on the subject (and, as it's in my nature, I read A LOT). During all this research, I kept my finger on my own emotional pulse, learned more about the specifics of the situation, accepted reality as REALITY (i.e. I didn't selectively look at certain things [happy feelings about the man] and willfully ignore the rest [unhappy feelings about the situation]), was realistic about how I would respond to that reality now and in the future, and, along the way, I figured out how I felt about it all.
(BTW, should I ever face this situation again, I now know what questions to ask and what answers I would need to hear.)
That sounds more personally-growthy, doesn't it?
The man didn't promise what he knew he couldn't. He thought that would make it easier for me, but it had the opposite effect. He is principled and that's not a character trait one runs into all the time. That made an already difficult decision even more difficult to stick to, but had it been EASY for me, this post wouldn't be titled as it is.
It comes down to this: I didn't let myself down.
At the end of the day, we are the ultimate guardians of our own well being. That's not a responsibility that should be ceded to someone or something else. Nor is it a responsibility that should be ignored, for any reason. Is that selfish? I think it's the very opposite. Because at the end of the day (and at the start and the middle, too), respecting our responsibility to ourselves is one of the many ways we carry out our responsibilities to all the people who are important to us - whether by setting examples for our children, reassuring our parental figures that they taught us to make good choices for ourselves, or not pissing off our friends by forcing them to log WAY too much time at karaoke with you while you sing every possible song in the "I'm bitter and angry" oeuvre, twice.
You're welcome, friends.
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