My birthday is less than a week away.
Last year at this time, I was in a long-term relationship I didn’t know I was leaving a few months later. I had the sweetest birthday experience with him in our years together, in that he actually showered me with gifts, something he’s never done. For a couple of years, we had talked about being engaged by the time I turned 30. Every birthday gift he presented me I was hoping that it would be a small ring-sized box. I was very seriously committed to him and would have whole-heartedly accepted. The small gifts never crescendoed into an engagement ring.
We limped along until finally, mid-October, during a conversation while I was preparing him dinner, I knew I had to walk away. I’m not quite sure how I continued preparing that meal but I salted that dinner with my tears. When I finished cooking, I left the apartment and called Treavor and sobbed on the phone for precisely 14 minutes, dreading what I knew I had to do.
The following week, I was absent from our home because of work. There was an evening during the work conference where significant others were welcomed to come. I was hopeful he would really be present that night. He casually showed up and very promptly left to catch a movie with one of his friends. His lack of effort felt like a nail in my heart. A few days later, I ended it. Though I was prepared for a long conversation, it took less than a minute. We lived together for another couple of weeks, still courteous and friendly. Still watching our shared shows. We had light conversation about what life would look like for the both of us.
The day I moved out in November caused an avalanche of emotions. I was so scared to step out into the unknown. I could not stop myself from sobbing much to the dismay of my movers. I used up my precious PTO usually saved for travel to spend days at home because I could not stop crying. I walked my dog crying. I answered the door for takeout crying. Eventually, I started to congratulate myself for small feats. Like putting on pants. Or showering. Or going to work. My friends lured me into the light with food and fun. I was amazed how quickly I started laughing again.
At this moment, I feel like I’m soaring through my life. Since being single, I’ve visited 7 new states. I’ve traveled on on my own for the first time twice. I started dating this year and it has introduced me to very kind men with qualities I have never considered wanting or needing in a partner. Even dating angst feels like a delicious new sensation. I look back to who I was in July of 2013 and I feel like a completely different person today. I wish I could travel back in time and tell myself that not receiving that engagement ring was the luckiest break of my 30th year.
This year, I’m going stag to my birthday party and I won’t be anxiously waiting for something that isn’t coming. And that feels like leveling up.