“And they lived happily ever after…” That’s the dream, right? To live in bliss with your person until death do you part. Or maybe until death of who you once were. Or until one day, you look in the mirror and don’t recognize yourself anymore.
And you wonder, “how did this happen?” You wonder how it ever got this far.
You wonder, “What happened to us? What happened to me? I was a strong and confident woman. And now I’m nothing but a shell.”
It happens slowly. Piece by piece you change. You give in. You compromise. You lose.
You focus less on your dreams as an individual and start working towards the goals you two have created for your relationship. Well, maybe I didn’t get that promotion, but we moved in together.
You spend all your free time with him, because you want to, you love him. But does he do the same for you? Is that even what you want?
You let his happiness, or lack thereof, become your own. It hurts to see him so unhappy, so you become unhappy. You forget that we are all responsible for our own happiness.
You let your relationship become your everything. If you two are good, then life is good. If you two are bad, the whole world is bad.
You let his influence overpower your own desires. You do what’s best for “us” as opposed to what’s best for you.
You sacrifice a little bit of your values for the greater good of your relationship. “Just this once,” right?
You start to believe everything he says. Your personality starts to morph. You’ve become unrecognizable. Because you slowly start to lose, not just your arguments, your strength and determination, but most importantly, yourself.
You’ll look at your life and your relationship and ask yourself how could I lose so much of me? The things that I loved about myself are buried. The fire that he was once attracted to has died, and the emotions bubbling up inside of you are terrifying.
First, you start to blame him. How could he take so much? What gives him the right to take the pieces of who you are? Why couldn’t he just be happy?
The cold truth is, you handed him every piece; thinking that maybe this piece would be the one he needed to make himself whole. Losing this piece will make him fall in love with you again. You did this. You allowed him to take those pieces, but you justified it all. It was a willing sacrifice all in the pursuit of happily ever after.
When all is said and done, hopefully there are pieces you keep. Pieces, that whatever your ending may look like, you can tape back together to start rebuilding yourself.
Start reminding yourself of who you want to be. Remind yourself of the great things about yourself that you gave up, of what you truly want, and of the life you want to live.
And you might even have to remind yourself that sometimes, happily ever after doesn’t look like the movies. Sometimes, happily ever after is just you. Whole, wonderful, beautiful you.
*A very special thank you to my sister, Heather, who co-wrote this with me. I happily share this piece with her.