As I was looking through some old photos this week, I realized that February 2011 marks an anniversary for me, or close enough to one I feel like observing it now. It was about 2 years ago this month that I ended a relationship which had lasted for 5 years. At the beginning we had a wonderful spark and created a warm, creative partnership which was genuinely polyamorous. Over time things grew more stagnant, less stable, and a lot more restrictive.
What had begun as occasional outbursts of instability blossomed into full on madness during 2008 as I and the man I shared my partner with watched her drop into insanity with the help of a drug she was determined to abuse. I stayed much, much longer than I should have but the weight of years and an on-going artistic collaboration encouraged me to stick it out.
We made it just to our five year mark in January of 2009 before breaking up about a month later. It was still a few months before I was actually able to move out, starting a journey that landed me first in Houston but eventually brought me here to Austin today. It was at least a year after the break up before I could begin to truly call myself healed.
Two years is enough time to look back and reflect. I am now able to look back at the good things we shared and view them with (slightly bittersweet) pleasure rather than pain. I can say with confidence that our sex life taught me a great deal about my love of BDSM, and that my dominant side truly blossomed during our time together. My writing also matured while we were together, thanks to the artistically charged environment we created along with her other male significant other.
But I can also say, two years on, that leaving was the best decision I ever made. Since leaving her I’ve become free to be myself again — the slutty, kinky, creative, unrestricted me. I’ve learned to truly love myself again when before things had gotten so bad I was literally engaging in self-harm. Since breaking up, I explored my submissive side and fully embraced being a switch, then rediscovered my love of Dominance through relationships like the one I share with my Pet (now entering its second year). I write far more than I ever did when things got bad, and am a deeper part of my community than ever before thanks to taking on a lead position at Burning Flipside.
The bottom line is that I feel free yet loved, and really, truly happy. More happy than I ever thought I’d be able to feel again. Life has its ups and downs — my finances are still a struggle, living on my own. But not a shred of regret exists inside me.
So often, one hears about someone who feels utterly trapped in a loveless, dead relationship. A good relationship should elevate you; it should make it easier for you to be your true self, not prevent you from being it. You should never have to sacrifice who you are.
So if you are in that situation I say to you, in the hopes that it will sink in eventually: There is a way out. No matter how financially, emotionally, or spiritually intertwined (or codependent) you have become. Even if you think it’s impossible. Even if you have children — because they’ll be so much better off with you modeling a happy life rather than one of despair. There is a way out, even if it takes months.
Rediscover who you are: your true self is not dead. Find that way out, and take it.