My partner and I recently broke up after almost seven years together. We decided that we wanted to remain friends and would keep our circle of mutual friends. I didn’t want either of us to put friends in a position where they felt like they might have to choose or take sides, nor did I want either of us to be surprised by secondhand information that might be hurtful. Unfortunately, this has blown up in my face. He has drawn our support network closer to him and this has compounded my sense of loneliness and isolation as I work through mountains of grief and self-doubt. I get that breakups are hard. I also understand it’s hard to be a friend and to remain neutral when a breakup happens. But what went wrong here? Should I still want to remain friends with him?
Left All Alone
Dear Left All Alone,
I understand the feelings of loss and loneliness that come with the end of a relationship. I have experienced the beauty of companionship that is found in another and I have experienced the solitude and magic that is found in singleness.
Sometimes, we seek to hold on to that which life seeks to set us free from and that is where pain comes in. Learning the art of letting go frees you to the possibilities of what is to come. It is like holding onto a rope that is being pulled from your hand. It will burn your hand middle. You tried to hold on to that relationship by offering a friendship. LET IT GO! See singleness as more than just the state of being unmarried or outside of a romantic commitment. Singleness has to be a state of wholeness – being complete in yourself and as yourself without the crotch of having to feel needed by and important to another.
Yes, feeling needed and desired strokes the ego well. We all want to be loved, right? But have we been seeking love from the wrong person/s? I mean, why is it so important to us that others love us completely and unconditionally? Do we first love ourselves in those ways – completely and unconditionally? It seemed that you were more concerned about the impact of the break up on your “mutual” friends rather than you. Clearly, those friends were not as mutual as you thought. They chose him.
I know you have feelings of wanting to be held and kissed and be told, “I love you”; to have someone to whom you can pour out your fears and concerns and distress and come home to and be silly with. I have also discovered something remarkable about singleness. In my singleness, I discovered me. I discovered that the love I craved most was my own. Take time to pour the love that you have invested in another person into yourself. Fill yourself up with love. This is an opportunity to date yourself; to get to know who you are at the core; to deal with all those places of brokenness and fracture and put them back together – to become whole. Do not despise your singleness; neither should you chase after relationship or friendship. Become single first. Focus on you for now. True friends and a good lover will come along who will love you like you love yourself and like you deserve to be loved.
Damien Williams is a Minister & Bible Teacher at Ekklesia Bible Fellowship in Kingston, Jamaica. He is also an Educator, Life Coach and Human Rights & Justice Advocate. His day job is as a Field Operations Manager at Habitat for Humanity Jamaica. If you have an issue that you need advice on, send an e-mail to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org