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Don't Look Back In Anger


Nothing lasts forever.

One of my big resolutions for 2018 has been to release myself from the anger and hurt I'd been storing inside since my relationship ended in August.

I spent a lot of time feeling angry in the months following the breakup.

I was angry that my relationship had ended so abruptly. I was angry that my partner had ended the relationship with a long-distance text minutes before I boarded an eight-hour flight. I was angry she'd been mean to my parents the last time we'd seen each other. I was angry she'd moved on so quickly.

I was angry she took all the spoons from our apartment when she moved out.

I was angry that she left me to care for our dog by myself, and I was angry that she'd showed up at the hospital the day after I landed in the ER to tell me very bluntly that our relationship was truly over.

I was angry that I had invested so much in her when she was at her most vulnerable, and that she'd left me behind as soon as she was stronger, at a moment when I was feeling vulnerable myself.

I spent a lot of time in my head after she left. I vented my anger to her as I walked Lucy, conducted conversations and unassailable arguments that she would never, ever hear, but that I polished to perfection nonetheless.

It felt good to be angry. And it felt good to get drunk and wallow, too.

But it wasn't productive. In fact, it was damaging. Weeks passed, and then months, and my partner did not magically reappear to hear out those unassailable arguments or witness my anger. She was gone; she wasn't coming back. I was arguing with myself, over and over again.

I was poisoning myself with my own anger.

I decided to stop talking online about how much I missed my partner or how she'd hurt me. I would focus on the future instead. A small step, and largely symbolic, but a step nonetheless.

I decided to make a conscious effort at forgiveness. I know how easy it is to demonize the people who hurt us. I've been on both sides of that coin. But my partner isn't a demon. She did hurtful things and sometimes the wounds are really painful, but it does me no good to carry a grudge.

Besides, if I let go of my anger and the blind righteousness of victimhood, I can see ways that I could have been better, too.

Why wasn't I more attentive?

Why didn't I scrub the bathtub more frequently?

Why did I leave the cooking to her? It's true that I paid for most of the groceries and other household costs, but at the very least, we might have communicated more clearly the division of household chores and finances.

Why did I take out my frustrations on her with insensitive words?

Why didn't I work harder to make our relationship work?

I don't blame myself fully for our relationship failing. I don't blame her entirely, either.

I've been reading a lot about resilience lately. More than a few authors have written about how by and large we can't control what happens to us, but we as individuals are the only ones who can control how we respond to it.

I can't control the things my partner did that hurt me. I can't go back in time and change the things I did that hurt her. But I can recognize my mistakes and learn from them, and try to be a better man moving forward.

With this in my head, in the predawn hours of January 3rd, I packed up my truck, made a bed for Lucy in the back seat and drove away from Vancouver, in hopes that this #ProjectNomad adventure would not only be an external journey, but an internal voyage as well.