I still put three creamers and three Splendas in my coffee every morning, making it taste less like coffee and more like a hot chocolate. I still let my toothpaste clump around the nozzle in the way that he used to think was so repulsive. I still talk to everyone at the store as though they were my life-long friends. I still let empty coffee and iced tea containers collect on the passenger side floor of my poor neglected vehicle-turned dumpster. I still surprise my friends with little treats for rainy days and write seriously dorky, yet cheerful, Post-It note messages for my co-workers. I still sleep on my stomach and tell horribly long stories. I still look in the mirror and like the way my hair falls over my shoulders and my eyes get squinty when I smile. I still feel a warmth in my soul when I think about love.
Now that I'm alone, I still do everything that I once did. The beautiful kaleidoscope of my life has kept turning. It seems that I am still me, which is surprising, because I thought that wouldn't be the case.
As a girl who has not been "single" for longer than three months since she was pubescent, I thought I wouldn't be able to function alone. I am sure plenty of other women can relate to this apparent loss of purpose. I thought I would fade away. I thought every little detail of my life would be thrown into the wind where he went. I thought the glow of my normally overly-happy demeanor would be dimmed by the loss of who I thought was my true love and of my relationship activities. I thought that what I refer to as my "sulking time," consisting of Netflix marathons and microwavable popcorn, would become a permanent existence for me. I thought I couldn't be me without him. I thought I couldn't be me without someone else. What I didn't understand was that though he may be gone, I'm still here, and I shouldn't need anyone else to be proud of that person who is still here. I shouldn't have to be someone's girlfriend to be "someone" to myself.
Often, we grow comfortable establishing ourselves in the satisfaction of a relationship with someone else and then when that role diminishes, we are at a loss when it comes to our identity. We think that loving someone and then losing that person has to also mean losing yourself, and that isn't true. While they do take a part of you, they do not take who you are. That is because they don't create who you are, either. All that anyone can ever really do is merely build upon who you are; you don't have to be a girlfriend or a wife or any title, for that matter, to feel fully satisfied with yourself. People will walk in and out of your life. The most important element to understanding human relationships is that there will always be one person that won't walk out of your life, and that's you.
So yes, I am no longer a god-forsaken girlfriend. And yes, sometimes I look to that space beside me on the couch when I'm in the middle of a sulking Netflix marathon and wish he were lying there as he once did. I think about how he would probably be releasing his silly short snores because he never took too kindly to my crappy taste in television. And then, for a moment, I let myself miss him and miss being his, because it's OK to feel that way sometimes. It's human nature. But you see, in that same instant, I realize he chose not to be there, and therefore I am content with his absence. I realize I don't need him to be there. I don't need anyone to be there. I don't need to take care of someone and I don't need to "feel needed" in order to know I am worthy of self-confidence. I'm me without anyone else, and so are each of you.
That sleeping boyfriend and his endearing smile shouldn't be what gives me the gratification that I am worthy of love. Emotional relationships are gifts, and sometimes those gifts are ephemeral for a reason. Men will walk in and out of my life, but I'll still be here. I will be here with my own talents and hard-earned accomplishments to sustain my inner happiness, not the title of so-and-so's lovely female companion. I'll still be drinking creamy coffees and having15-minute conversations with random strangers at the grocery store. I'll still have plenty of squinty smiles and proud moments. I'll still be me, regardless of who is by my side.
I want to spread this message to any other girl that believes she needs the "friend" additive placed on her title for true fulfillment. Sometimes, heartbreak closes a door that then opens another one that leads to... knowing yourself. I know it doesn't feel this way immediately, but your life will go on just as it had without your ex. It will become even better. You are still talented, unique and beautiful in every way that you were with someone else. Just be the "girl" you want to be entirely, and let the "friend" part of it fall into place when it's the right time. Because now that I'm not a girlfriend, nothing has changed about who I am, other than the lessons that I have learned and ways I have been made into a stronger person.
Now that I'm not a girlfriend, I'm still me, and that's all I could ever ask for. That's all any of us could ever ask for.