I lost myself somewhere along the way. I stopped doing the things I loved. I stopped visiting the places I loved. I stopped eating what I loved, listening to music I loved, wearing clothes that I loved. The self that I fought so fiercely to find, to nurture and to love; I left her somewhere. In fact, I think I actually pushed her into a tiny closet and locked the door. The girl that drove across America and back just for fun, the girl that spent hours turning circles on a ballroom floor, the girl that flew to Europe just to meet a boy, the girl who soaked naked in mineral springs, camped under the stars and got kicked out of restaurants for laughing too loudly. She was dangerous, wild and rowdy.
And, God, I loved her.
At some point, though, I had decided that these aspects of myself weren't okay. That these aspects were unlovable, inconvenient, selfish, reckless and wrong. These pieces of me weren't good, they weren't tame enough to be loved. And I so wanted to be loved. So, I put these pieces of me in storage boxes marked "Danger, Do Not Open" and locked them somewhere deep inside of myself.
This may have been a conscious choice, but I don't think so. I think this is what happens when a heart gets broken too many times. When a person gets criticized too many times. Or when a body is lonely for too long. To save our own lives, we cut pieces of ourselves off in an attempt to drag ourselves to whatever we are desperately seeking. Kind of like that guy who cut off his own arm to free himself from the rock; I think we all have the tendency to cut off aspects of ourselves in order to survive.
But after a while, surviving just didn't cut it. I missed the freedom of being my whole self. I missed being able to stretch my arms and legs in both directions. I missed me and I wanted to go home.
Relationships are personal, private and complicated. There is no easy way to explain what went wrong, when it happened or where/why/how things could have been different. The fault is never one-sided and neither is the tragedy of loss. The truth is: I left my relationship last week. It is over. The simplest explanation I can give is: I was homesick.
This is sad news, yes. But not as sad as the past few years, spent silently crying in secret. Not as sad as believing that I was stuck in a life that I didn't love. Not as sad as the insurmountable guilt I felt about dragging my child through yet another failed relationship. Not as sad as thinking I had no choice, no freedom and no right to want a better life. Not as sad as staying in a place that I didn't feel wanted.
So, yes, this is sad. But there is also hope and life and freedom in this sadness. There is a renewed sense of purpose, a horizon to look to and endless roads of adventure ahead.
And there's a very sweet sense of homecoming.
Because that's what this is: coming home. Home to a new house, a new neighborhood, a new view and a new town. Home to myself in every way. Home to the things that I love, the places I love, the music I love, the food I love, the people I love.
Home for myself. Home for my daughter. Home for my life. Home for my soul.