“Better safe than sorry” – it might be good advice for packing or obeying traffic laws, but Lzzy Hale would argue it should not be applied to romantic relationships. And I agree. Safe isn’t bad. Safe is comfortable. There is nothing wrong with comfortable … unless that comfort is kept out of fear and you’re struggling to keep your own fire stoked.
There was a week in February where I didn’t sleep. I mean, obviously, I slept because I probably would have gone completely nuts if I went an entire week without sleep. But I would only get a few hours into the night at best and then I’d lay awake. Usually when I can’t sleep, I wake up feeling like I ran a marathon or my mind is going a thousand miles an hour. This time, my body wasn’t fidgety or uncomfortable and my mind wasn’t racing. I just could not sleep. I would lay in bed, tired but not drowsy, until light started to creep through the curtains.
I can’t even think of one good reason
Why I’m always thinkin’ about leavin’
It’s not like everything’s so horrible
We’ve been together for a few years now
And you know all my ins and outs
But everything is way too comfortableFrom the moment I wake
I plan my escape
I had realized that I needed to break away from the “safety” of my current relationship. Things weren’t horrible but they weren’t right. I wasn’t getting what I needed and I was staying out of fear. Paying rent alone, living alone, giving up on a decent guy and ending up with no one at all. The prospect of returning to the single life was scary… until it wasn’t.
I’m not scared
‘Cause I know there’s something out there waiting for me
And I swear
That I’ll find it someday, just wait and see
I don’t care
That you call me crazy
I can’t stay ’cause I need room to breathe
There’s nothing left to say
Better sorry than safe
I struggled with when and how to tell Dave. I was worried that my exhaustion had clouded my mind. But at the end of that sleepless week, I was more certain, not less. It felt unfair to keep it from him any longer. It came tumbling out in fragments late Friday night. I did my best to be honest and kind. I didn’t bear him any ill will but I couldn’t leave any doubt. It had to be over.
There is a funny thing that comes from letting out the thing I’ve been holding back. From accepting that this change is necessary and inevitable. While I’d been upset and wracked with sadness many times that week, I was calm when I told him that I needed to end it. It happened during my divorce as well. I was upset, terrified, a complete mess when we were trying to decide what to do. When the decision was certain, a weight lifted and my emotional turmoil disappeared. I’m not saying I stopped feelings things on either occasion. But my emotions no longer had control over me. I could feel them, recognize them, and move beyond them. The fear shrank and disappeared into the background, became something I noticed in the hard moments but largely left behind.
In both cases, it was off-putting to my partner. An emotional person, someone who’s fought fiercely for the relationship in the past, now calmly and rationally going through the steps of parting ways. It probably looked as though I had flipped a switch and turned off my feelings for them.
To casual acquaintances, I might have seemed glib or a bit cold with how quickly my mood changed. To friends and family, it was mostly my relief that stood out. One of my Jiu Jitsu girlfriends, Lara, told me that I had the look of someone beginning something, not ending something. And I supposed that is true.
One of the things that became clear to me this time around was that I needed to live as a single person. Preferably alone but simply as a single person who wasn’t living with a spouse or parents. I had totaled up how long I’d lived that way as an adult – 2 weeks. Specifically, the 2 weeks before I met Dave. That’s it. 2 weeks. Such an insanely small number for a woman in her late 30s. Especially for an independent woman like me.
It’s time to take a chance and give you up
In the morning I’ll wake
And make my escape
It’s been a few months since my split. Things are not safe, but they aren’t scary either. I am discovering what life is like alone. Figuring out where I falter and where I am strong.
I am not safe, but I’m not sorry either.