You still have your engagement ring. It’s tucked away safe, in the box it was purchased in, hidden in case anyone dares break into your apartment on a treasure hunt for valuables.
It’s kind of funny thinking that the piece of jewelry which gauged commitment in the relationship that was over long ago would still be considered a valuable. That part of your life is over, of course. But the journey you’ve taken since the break-up is beyond valuable.
You were a different person then.
All people seem to be aware of this truth – that broken relationships lead to a place of growth, down a weaving path of finding your new self. Even though you know this, looking back on decisions you made back then leave you with a stunned taste in your mouth – a bitterness that runs deeps from your tongue to your soul. Words you said, things you believed, emotions you felt almost always seem a world away from the place you find yourself in now.
When you look back at the time you spent with the ring sparkling proudly on your left hand, you see now that it wasn’t screaming “I’m in love” as much as it was whispering, secretly ashamed, “I am wanted. For whatever reason. And that is enough for me.” In hindsight, you see that was wrong; that it wasn’t enough.
You remember the conversations you had with him that led to your saying it was all okay. You always said it was okay. Even when it wasn’t okay. You apologized for actions that were his, not yours. You let yourself believe that as long as you took the blame, as long as you complied with whatever was going on, that he wouldn’t leave, that you would be safe, that you wouldn’t be alone, and that it would be enough for you.
You were wrong then.
You were wrong when you believed that if you didn’t try everything you could to make it work, there would never be anyone for you.
You were wrong when you thought that he was made for you and that this was all a test, something to get through to prove you should be together.
You were wrong when you thought that he was better than you – more worthy than you, more attractive than you, more desirable than you by friends and people you ministered with, more of everything that you could ever be to the point that you felt that because he was settling on you, you could never let go.
You were wrong to not see your own worth, disguising the fact that staying with him was draining the very best parts of you into a pool of nothingness, leaving your encouragement, your kindness, your optimism, your creativity, your desire, and your drive left only to evaporate.
You were wrong when you believed that he valued you enough to be faithful, to be honest, and to be true.
Letting the memories flood to your mind, recalling the lies, and the falseness. The days that you defended him, his actions, and his lack of respect for you, even for months after he said it was over. It’s different now, you tell yourself. It’s different because he doesn’t have that control. It’s different because you aren’t allowing him that control. You make decisions for yourself and stand tall in those decisions, even when they are mistakes, and even when they are not popular.
You live your life for you, and not as an extension of him. It’s a new feeling to do so, because for so long, you weren’t known as you, you were known as his. His partner, his girlfriend, his fiancé, his soon-to-be-wife. So long, in fact, that even after you removed the ring and sent the dress away, you allowed yourself to be known as his ex. Now you know the truth; you are so much more than his ex.
You know your life is yours to be lived. Left hand empty, ring in the box.
You know you’ve found joy in your decision to not be friends, your step in refusing him access. Guarding your heart, for it’s the wellspring of life. This was perhaps the healthiest decision you made all year. Healthier than vegetables, weight loss, running, or getting 8 hours of sleep.
You know you’ll never stop caring for him. It’s your nature. Never again, however, will you put caring for yourself on the back burner. Never again will you disregard your worth. Never again will you stand for that mistreatment to the point that you believe it to be treatment.
You are selfish in the most beautiful way.