Moment of Clarity; When obsessions grow old, it might just be time to find a new one…

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By: Gretchen Darnley

I once ended a two-year relationship.  He and I didn’t date the entire two years, but that’s how long it took for the on-again/off-again affair to run its course and finally come to an end.  After a year and a half of being on, we broke it off for six months.  I left Los Angeles and headed back east to live with my family.
Sometimes you just have to go home.
I thought for sure if I left LA, I would be able to get on with my life in peace.  No such luck.  During those six months in North Carolina, my ex just couldn’t seem to leave me alone. He evil-texted me pretty relentlessly and we would often fight over the phone. He couldn’t seem to let it go, couldn’t seem to let me go.  He just had to keep stoking the fire.
Then suddenly, his grandfather died.  I guess he got introspective or maybe just lonely, and so he gave me a call. Rather, a nice call. He said that he loved me and wanted me to come back to LA.  He even said he was ready for marriage, the whole shebang.
I felt for him, and a part of me knew I still loved him, so across the country I went.
Long story short, I got back to LA, and we got back together.  We never really talked about the time when we were broken up.
We strangely never addressed how either of us had felt about the whole thing.  He did say he was sorry for the way he had treated me and that he didn’t want to hurt me again.
He said he loved me.
Once I was back and settled, I naturally began to wonder when this whole getting-married-and-having-babies thing we had talked about was going to start.
Of course, he had no answer.  And of course, we eventually started to fight.  A lot.  I constantly felt on-edge and insecure, unsure about his love.  But somehow I persevered.  I mean, the phone calls, the texting, the drive across the country— it had all seemed so romantic to me.  Like it was fate, my destiny, and I was moving back to reclaim it.  But I was crying almost every day, plotting how to get him to move back to North Carolina with me, hating my job, and never seeing my friends, let alone making any new ones. I just focused on the fact that we were back together, and my heart went pitter-patter.
Then one day the axe fell. We got into a huge argument complete with yelling, crying, and a lot of other fun stuff that I won’t go into.
I screamed at him, “God, sometimes I just feel like breaking up.!”
And he said, “Ok.”
So we broke up.  Again.  And I was devastated.  Again.
Panic attacks ensued, and I drove to a girlfriend’s house where I stayed for two days. I cried and cried and cried.  There I was, hanging out with two of my closest girlfriends.  I hadn’t even hung out with them more than twice in the three months I’d been back, and they were soooo there for me.
On the third day, I had to drag my ass out of the house to run some errands. I was driving to the store, crying, and listening to a Beatles song on the radio when suddenly my eyes cleared.
I started laughing hysterically.   I was FREE!!!!
I had been so obsessed with the idea of this stupid, emotionally abusive relationship working out, that I had forgotten all about my life. I was so set on this idea of marriage and babies and all of this other bullshit, that I was settling for some guy, who, at the end of the day, probably didn’t even like me, or if he did, he had a really strange way of showing it.
I had let this obsession take over my life. I had let it make me miserable.  I hadn’t even realized it had taken me over.This really got me thinking: how many of us have obsessions that have more or less begun to rule our lives?
I came to the conclusion that it all boiled down to people’s individualistic ideas of success.  There must be some societal thread, some underlying theme in our lives based on succeeding. Some people start off early, growing up with a school-obsession that turns into a career-obsession.  Some people are sheerly obsessed with making money.  I, on the other hand, had developed an obsession with simply having a relationship.
It’s startling how we can become so enveloped by an obsession that starts to dictate our every move that we forget the importance of simply living. We get so caught up with the idea that if we could just accomplish this one thing, then everything else will fall into place.
We forget our friends, our families.  We neglect to take vacations or to buy ourselves something pretty just because.  We become so obsessed with an ideal, that it becomes so easy to forget ourselves.
Reflecting on my relationship, I realized that I did, indeed, forget myself. I forgot to check in, to really examine my life and look at all of the things that I was doing and the things that were being left undone.  I was so miserable, and I never once stopped to think about the fact that this relationship I was in could possibly be the cause.
I am so grateful for my moment of clarity, and I hope that I can continue to live my life from now on with a better understanding of what it means to become obsessed with something.  I hope that in the future, I will not sacrifice my happiness or myself for any reason, be it for a relationship, for a job, or anything else.
I hope to remain newly obsessed with living in the moment and with the truly awesome journey that is my life. I also hope to take with me the knowledge that, while there is such a thing as real success, there is no such thing as real failure.  It’s just life going down a path I didn’t expect.

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