The End, The Middle and The Beginning

My breakup was a big one. Not in its actual unfolding – that was too quick to really turn into anything much – but both its impact and the space it occupied within the context of the rest of my life were violently conspicuous from the day it happened. That’s basically just an eloquent way of saying I did not see it coming and it fucked everything up, leaving a colossal tidal wave of destruction, floor crying and reassessment in its wake. Happy days. However, although those first two things were undoubtedly what occupied me most at the time, it’s the latter that I think has had the most lasting impact on my life and the way things are now.

I don’t know what I’d be like today if we hadn’t broken up, but I’m pretty confident I wouldn’t have changed nearly as much, and at this point I’m glad I’m not still who I was a year ago. I’m not saying I’m glad it happened – I like myself far too much to be okay with even Past Me feeling that shitty – but I’m very, very pleased I’ve become who I have, and more than happy with the way that that person is navigating the turbulent seas of adult life.

Earlier this fine evening I read a quote by Jean-Luc Godard (because I’m #learned #cultured #deep and also got this book for my birthday) that goes thus:

“A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.”

The way I see my life now, The End was the beginning. It was the catalyst that set me off on this jolly whirlwind of a spiritual adventure and chucked me into what I can only describe as a tumble dryer of little lessons and personal growth. That’s how I see the last year. Just me sitting in a spinning tube with a bunch of encouraging statement tees and the occasional hot guy’s hoodie. Like an unconventional chrysalis of self-discovery and sass.

My time in the tumble dryer chrysalis was the middle, and – having managed to kick open the door and clamber out nice and dry and smelling like a soapy assortment of forest flowers – this feels more like a beginning than any other point I can remember.

There are bits of the end and the middle and other beginnings and middles before that end that I’m still holding on to, but that’s not a bad thing. We remember things for a reason, and to me the most important part of an ending is learning to move forward. Even if you go back to a situation or a person that you thought you’d left behind, you never really go back; you just create a new place for it in the life you made by moving on.

When I look back at the place I was this time last year, I definitely didn’t see it as an end. To me it was the middle, and it wasn’t until I gave things time to fall into place that I realised I was wrong. Back then I never would have thought I’d be where I am now, and honestly if I’d known I think it would have made me feel worse. To me the only thing more painful than the idea of feeling the way I did forever was the idea of eventually being okay, but in practice it’s not that black and white. When something shitty happens you don’t just wake up one day feeling fine, you grow and you learn and you build a new reality so that the gaping hole which used to be right in the middle of the room is now somewhere off to the side, maybe hidden behind an end table or a nicely framed selfie. You can’t change things that have already happened but you can control how you deal with them. What I took away from good ol’ Jean-Luc, and what I hope you take away from this, is that every ending leaves you with a choice - whether you’re going to let that end be an end, or a middle or a beginning.