There is this woman I follow whose best friend is going through her second divorce at the age of 35. All of her current feelings are around failure. How she failed herself, her family, her husbands. She is ending another relationship that should have lasted forever.
Littles, when something ends, we are taught that we have failed. I have always felt that way. I've let myself down, I've let those around me down, I'm giving up, and I don't give up.
But there is another way to look at it. And not just the typical "it takes two" but more about how the relationship could be celebrated for what it was. Cherished and loved, because it was what you needed and wanted. It came to you at the exact right moment and it started and lasted as long as it did for a reason. But it also ended for a reason and maybe it means something a little more than just failure.
Her friend reminded her that just because it is over does not mean the entire time together was not worth it, nor does it mean it did not matter. That just because it was meant to last "happily ever after" does not mean there were not moments of pure joy and love. She brought it all back to the chapters we write in our lives.
What if you two just got to the end of your chapter together and it's time to write a new chapter?
What if some people have more chapters to write than others?
What if you have more chapters to write but instead you decide to shut the book?
Her friend went on to talk about how we should look at all relationships like this, not just marriage. The end of a career, the end of a friendship, the end of a relationship, marriage, children growing up. Because endings are hard, they are sad, they create this feeling of regret. But instead, they could also mean something very different.
When I was thinking about leaving my 20-year career, the one that meant so much to me and defined me. The one that I was so good at, the one I worked hard for and made so many sacrifices for, it took me years to finally end it. And the reasons are endless, starting over is hard. Starting a new business is scary. I didn't believe that I could or should do this. I didn't believe in just myself or my ability. But I also felt like I was breaking up with my agency and that took me another five years to get there. Three of those five were so hard because I was already there in my heart. And each time I doubled down and tried to work harder at it, the angrier I was. The more I wanted to go, the heavier it all felt, every single thing that popped up felt like another burden, no longer a challenge, but a burden. I wanted to go and I was just too scared to admit that it was over. I was worried I was admitting that I had failed.
You will feel this way a hundred times in your life. The wonder of "what if I had stayed" will stay with you always and forever because when you love something or when you love someone, you never really let them go entirely. And instead of spending a lifetime wondering how you could have made it better, remember that this feeling means you loved with all you had, and that's more than okay. That's exactly how one should love, with all that they have.
But here is something you also need to remember. You know exactly what would happen if you had stayed, you were there, you know how it felt, you know why it was time. So celebrate the love, the closeness, the feeling. And when you are ready to walk away, it's not because you or they failed, your chapter came to an end.
If I continued to think that I was not ready to write my next chapter, I know exactly where I would be. If I continued to think that I wasn't ready to move on, I would still have that feeling of dread. I wouldn't have ever started this, I wouldn't have ever had taken a chance on myself. I wouldn't have found my balance, my way, I wouldn't be exactly where I need to be.
Endings are hard. They are painful. They are filled with regrets and what-ifs. They are lonely. They require you to be brave. They require you to be compassionate. They require you to not place blame. They require you to be gentle, with yourself as well as others. They require time. Time to mourn. Time to heal. Time to read through every single word written in your time together. Time to analyze. Time to learn. Time to put pen to paper and start a new chapter, whenever you are ready. Because some people have more chapters to write than others.