Reflective Journal

The Girlfriend Dilemma

Telling this story isn’t easy for me, maybe because it feels like it all happened a lifetime ago. Alas, I will continue with this tale because the person I am today is so closely tied to who I was back then.

Before I was a gentle, through and through, not like I am today – with a soft heart masked behind at times a detached exterior. I cared deeply and it was painfully obvious. I was soft, naive and whilst I cringe saying it I was definitely a big romantic. Studying English Literature at University my favourite book was Pride and Prejudice and the world I lived in existed strictly through the realms of imagination, emotion and freedom.

I was relentless in my pursuits of loving someone, and it cost me. I lost me.

I was always keen to plan the date, book the holiday, and make sure that every birthday and Christmas was the best it would ever be. I even planned him an Easter egg hunt around the university flat, and every time I went to the shop I wondered what treat I could surprise him with to make his day.

I remember when I used to wait all day long, eager for just a text, a call, or for them to walk through the door, my schedule wide open just for them. My life was entirely wrapped up in someone else’s, and I didn’t mind one bit—I actually wanted it. Maybe it sounds a bit sad to have lived like that, but at the time, it felt perfectly right to me.I felt like it was my role as ‘the girlfriend’ to be that way and I was nothing if not obedient and committed to fulfilling my duty.

For a good stretch, it seemed like this was working for us. He’d come home worn out from long hours at work, and I’d be there to pick up the slack. To hold his hand, to be there whenever he could fit me in his schedule and it didn’t really matter if I was sleeping on the blow up bed on his floor; as long as we was together when we could be.

I well and truly lived my life for a person as if they were an oath, and my loyalty knew no bounds. Whilst some traits were admirable a big part of me had to die because my life very quickly became someone else’s. I was so wrapped up in the idea of love that I was convinced that his ideas matched mine. I couldn’t be further from the truth.

That night, when he picked me up from work, my world turned upside down. He told me about someone else, someone he had been seeing for a few months from work —a secret life amidst our four years together. I was completely blindsided, grieving who I thought he was, questioning who I thought I was and in my loneliness I tried to fix what I hadn’t broken. I tried for the best part of a year.

As I resentfully attempted to pick up the pieces, reality hit me hard. I couldn’t help but feel angry at myself for not seeing the signs, the truth that seemed clear to everyone else and for loving him so much that I forgot to love myself. Even though it’s been years, it feels like it happened just yesterday. And sometimes, I miss the girl I used to be—she was kinder, gentler, and her heart was still whole.

For me this highlights that values like loyalty, fairness, and honesty are those of which I honour greatly. In my daily life I try so hard to stick to these values, not just for me but for the people I hold dear. Sometimes, choosing yourself means having to say goodbye to someone, starting a new job, or letting a message from a relative who’s asking for too much go unanswered. The people who truly care for you wouldn’t put you in those tough spots or as I call it, ‘The Girlfriend Dilemma’. Sometimes, the only way to keep moving forward is to gently let go.

Whilst I will always appreciate the beauty of loving deeply I now know the importance of having my own dreams, needs and goals. The girl I was before may have had an untouched heart, but the woman I’ve become knows the beauty of a heart that’s healed. She’s still loving, still hopeful, but now she knows her worth and the importance of loving herself just as deeply as she loves others.

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