So often in life, giving up is synonymous with failure. We feel defeated when we have to walk away and admitting that we’ve lost can be so unbearable to come to terms with that we push it under the rug.
But I’ll admit that I’ve given up. I finally walked away from a relationship that I thought was the be-all, end-all in my life. It has been hard to come to terms with that. When we convince ourselves of something, make it our truth, we struggle to acknowledge we were wrong.
Relationships are by far the hardest thing we are faced with in this life. Family, friends, significant others. We’re all grappling with different world views, perceptions of reality. Like a piece of modern art: three people can view the same painting but walk away with completely separate interpretations. Finding common ground and understanding is a constant struggle.
When you really love someone though, you try to fight through the hard times. You let yourself be blinded to certain things. Tell yourself the other person can change. Believe that they will. Find yourself let down again, only to repeat the cycle. Hope and faith are beautifully and uniquely human, but they can cripple us, too.
I moved to Alicante to try to escape the cycle but distance isn’t a cure-all, nor does it fix the problems you’ve left behind. It has been a hard transition; the first week I felt overwhelmingly alone. Even with a wonderful apartment falling into my lap, a few new friends, and a welcoming work environment, I cried every night before bed.
We wanted to try to make it work. I believed it could despite the hours that separated us. But old secrets emerged and I couldn’t shake the questions and doubt. It was clear to me that trust that is broken is not easily repaired.
I felt I had to respect myself. Even with the threat of loneliness, I realize that all things in life are temporary. I’m in the second term of my current grad school journey and one of two classes I’m taking is on counseling theories. It’s giving me a lot of perspective on how much power we truly have in changing our moods and our minds.
One of my favorite existential theorists, Viktor Frankl, made an appearance in our textbook and reminded me of the day I found his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, at a secondhand sale in Howth, Ireland. What helped me then can continue to help me now: we may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can control the way it makes us feel.
My knee-jerk response to being wronged is to let it consume me. I want revenge because no one is going to pull one over on me without me knowing it. But I see now that in the end none of that matters. If someone cheats or lies to you, that’s a reflection of them. I’m quick to feel like I’ve been made the fool but really, the fault lies with the one who has chosen to act.
It’s easy to fall into a trap of letting relationships define us. We need to create our own happiness, forge our own paths forward, and find meaning. Other people can bring happiness into our lives but they can’t cultivate it.
So I continue to find my feet here on the east coast. Though it seems I just started it, I’m halfway through this term and moving steadily toward my goal of becoming a school counselor. The school I’ve been placed at is filled with supportive coworkers and absolutely lovely children. I have weekends to explore the coast and sit by the sea. Come May though, more changes are on the way as I prepare for the end of classwork and the start of internship hours. Wherever I end up next though, I know it is all about attitude.