Losing yourself isn’t something you typically notice happening. One day you’re you, and the next you just feel…incomplete, or maybe unfulfilled is the right word.
I was in my most recent relationship for two years. Within that time we went from being long distance and hundreds of miles apart only communicating via text, to living together in a one bedroom flat. Needless to say we did things pretty quick. Like most relationships it had its ups and downs, and for the most part it was pretty decent. Mundane would be the best word to describe it. Losing myself in the relationship wasn’t the fault of my partner, but more to do with our codependency problems.
Codependency is when you and your partner rely on each other in a toxic way. That can be due to addiction, mental health, abandonment issues…pretty much anything! In our case we just got too interwoven in each others lives, at points we were almost inseparable. Or rather I was inseparable from him. For the first 11 or so months of our relationship I would sob every time we’d part after seeing each other. I do truly mean, gross snotty sobbing. In retrospect that seems more than a tad extreme of me.
Needless to say I was very very attached. I’d always considered myself ‘needy’ but never really understood the issue with it. Why couldn’t I demand ridiculous amounts of attention from one person? Craving the ‘completion’ they gave me in so many aspects of my life, and be annoyed when they couldn’t fulfill that?!
Well, because that’s fucking insane and toxic 17-year-old me…
But I didn’t know that at the time. It wasn’t until we moved in together that I really started to lose myself. Other than university all I did was hang out at home. I essentially hadn’t made any new friends in the year I’d been in London, and wasn’t connecting with people at university either. My ex had work friends, but they’d never hang out really. Instead the two of us hang out…every single day.
Eventually it seemed normal that we did everything together: eat, sleep, shop, socialise, etc etc etc. We just never really had a break. My constant need for attention blurred into his need to fix everyone’s problems. We could spend all day, everyday, focusing on each other instead of actually living our lives.
I went from being someone fiercely independent, and absolutely fine with going out in ‘skimpy’ clothes in the middle of the night for food shopping. To someone who had let their social anxiety get so bad that they couldn’t bear to go out alone. For me my anxiety gets worse the less I face it. So after roughly 10 months of having my boyfriend absolutely spoil me, doing the food shopping, buying gas and electricity, and doing other basic tasks that I’m more than capable of…I just felt lost.
Instead of getting to know the people at my university I’d sit at home and watch tv, making excuses as to why we couldn’t be friends. ‘We don’t have similar interests’, ‘we’re not much alike’ – I just kept feeding myself these ideas so that I could avoid confronting my anxiety issues.
Really this whole change started when I said yes for a week. Going out to an insane psychosexual rave (would recommend) just somehow made the realise that there’s so much more. There’s more than being sat at home watching sub-par tv, there’s more than having anxiety about shopping, there’s more than being codependent. I hadn’t realised it but I’d become totally complacent in my life. By forcing myself to break my routine for a week I truly realised how bland my life felt. So I decided to change it.
At first I worked around our relationship, not viewing it as an issue. I started making new friends, hanging out with amazing people, going out more, and also became polyamorous. I never explicitly wanted to be in a monogamous relationship, we just kind of fell into it. For a long while I was ‘fine’ with it as my ex wanted to remain monogamous. But this year I reached a point where I knew I wanted more.
I wanted to feel so incredibly and terribly in love, I wanted to feel sick with passion, I wanted to experience so much more of life than sitting at home in our dreary part of London. So I got Bumble and Tinder and well yes, that escalated. But that’s besides the point. The point is that I realised how utterly codependent I was. It took me two years, a psychosexual rave, a new set of friends, Call Me By Your Name, and Tinder for me to realise it. But I did realise it.
Breaking It Off
See the thing about realising just how toxically codependent your relationship is, is that you notice all the ways in which you’re preventing each other from improving. Even when you want the person to do better they can’t, because you’re both enabling each others poor behaviours. Slowly leaching the other’s passion to do better.
The only real option for us was to break up and I knew that. I spent several weeks in painful awkwardness and avoidance before I did it, but eventually I did break up with him. And honestly, it was such a relief for both of us!
I’m writing this only a few weeks after we’ve broken up, whilst we’re still living together due to our financial situation. But it’s like night and day for both of us, the difference in our happiness levels is unreal. Before we were at a base okayness, and of course I can’t speak for him, but currently I feel overjoyed. I know I’m ready to find myself again, and overcome my codependency.
I’m not going to sugar coat it, one of the worst things about overcoming codependency is feeling alone. Sure I have great friends who I know support and love me, but I’m alone. I don’t mean that in a romantic or sexual sense, but in the fact that I’m now acutely aware of just how alone I am in the world. I view myself (or my “new” self that I’m finding) as singular. One out of almost 8 billion, and I’ve got to figure it all out on my own. That can be kind of terrifying.
I never used to understand when people would tell me they felt truly alone in the world, but now I get it. I’m alone for the first time as an adult and it feels super weird.
Now, it’s not all as depressing as that may seem though. When I feel alone it’s more of a sense of being overwhelmed than sadness. I’m overwhelmed by how many choices there are in life, I really can do anything and I have to do it alone. But that also makes me extremely happy. I know that I have to get what I want through my own determination and self-worth.
I’m not really sure I have a good way to summarise this post. Over the past month my life has changed so immensely I wouldn’t have believed it if you told me about it 30 days ago. I’m the most inspired I’ve been in years, and just happy to work on myself and my passions. Meeting and connecting with great people along the way.
So yes, I lost myself in my relationship. But now I‘m overcoming my codependency and becoming a wonderful new person who can do literally anything. I already knew that, but now it seems so much more tangible!