“Relationships are opportunities for spiritual growth.”
We hear this a lot. Many of us know it to be true. And yet, we think it means we’re supposed to stay inside of them… because growing and learning isn’t easy, so a challenging relationship must mean we’re doing just that. Right?
And, no, not necessarily.
Sometimes, the learning and the growing in relationships is finding the strength to walk away in the moments where someone thinks they have the right to take pieces of us. Pieces that don’t fit into their version of an “ideal partner,” or an “ideal relationship.” To learn what it takes to reclaim and fully own our own power.
I remember the moment I began to reclaim my power, over a decade after I started giving myself away in relationships that were toxic and incredibly unhealthy.
Relationships with men who thought it was okay to mold me. To ask or bully me into bending and folding into what they though I should be. Relationships where I didn’t know myself well enough to stand tall and declare with firmness, “I’m here too. What I want matters too.” Where I gave myself away instead.
I started reclaiming my power the day I showed up on a front stoop, with a bag of things in my hand and a stomach in knots so tight I didn’t think it would ever fully untangle. We hadn’t talked in days, and I don’t think he had any intentions of seeing me that weekend. I had spent the night before in tears, typing out a letter that laid out everything that was left to say so that I could finally let him go.
He wasn’t happy to see me, that much I remember.
“Hey… what are you doing here?”
“Can we talk?” I managed to reply.
“Well, we’re about to get on the phone…”
I remember that simple moment the most, because it was the moment I chose me for the first time in nearly 12 long years. It was the first time that I made myself the priority, rather than shrinking to someone else’s needs or desires.
“It will only take a second,” I responded firmly.
It was a small moment.
The sun didn’t shine any brighter, and there was no triumphant ceremony to mark that day. There was simply a tired, sad young woman standing on a front stoop, holding steady inside of who she was and what she needed to happen in that moment. A young woman, who for the first time, fought for the right to take up space. To have a voice. To be heard, regardless of convenience.
I’m still fighting this fight.
I’m still reclaiming pieces of myself that I gave away. Still fighting for the right to take up space, have a voice, and to be exactly who I am, no apologies.
And I share this story with you in case you might be wondering if your challenging relationship is just “the way it is, because relationships take work.”
Relationships do take work.
They are an opportunity for spiritual growth.
I simply want to take the time to remind you that sometimes growth looks like choosing to reclaim your power. Choosing to take back pieces of yourself. Choosing to walk away from someone who can’t love and appreciate you for all your beautiful, messy glory. Exactly as you are. In each and every moment.
Sometimes the work is learning how to grow and communicate.
Sometimes the work is learning how to negotiate and share space.
Sometimes the work is learning what parts of you need work.
Sometimes the work is learning how to ask for what you want and need.
And, sometimes, the work is learning how to leave.
The leaving isn’t easy.
The leaving hurts more than you think it can.
The leaving is messy and inconvenient.
But sometimes, the leaving is everything necessary and good.
Sometimes the leaving is the moment when things really begin to change.
Sometimes the leaving, inside those tiny, seemingly insignificant moments, is where you declare to yourself and the Universe, “never again will I give away pieces of myself in the name of love. Never again will I bend or fold or dim my light.”
Only you will know if it’s time to leave, or time to grow together.
Trust yourself. Trust your heart. Trust your tears.
But always choose you, in whatever form that means.