From then on, things started falling into place. My recovery was slow and clumsy, but for the first time in my life, I started to be kind to myself. I stopped blaming myself and telling myself I'd never find someone again. I forgave myself when I repeated old mistakes. I had flings—some awkward, some sexy. My friend base grew exponentially. I drank too much. I went out dancing at least once a weekend. I started doing yoga three times a week. I joined a volleyball team. I burned bridges with people who didn't belong in my life anymore and fortified the relationships that mattered. I went back to Europe to visit old friends. I cleaned out my closet and filled it strictly with things that I loved. People started smiling at me for no reason. I was a bit reckless for a few months, but in general, life was becoming amazing.
This story is the long way of getting to the original idea for this essay, which was to dissect whether my increased self-assurance led to my new relationship or if the new relationship is the reason I feel so self-assured. A chicken-egg scenario, if you will: Would I feel as good as I feel now if I were still single? Maybe not. My boyfriend and I have a stellar relationship, the kind you can only have after having learned from prior relationship mistakes. We're a team; we're in love. But still, I felt great before I met him. I feel independent and confident in myself in this relationship, whereas I felt stifled and unsure of myself with my ex. That attitude change reflects a change in me, and not my relationship status.
In the end, the breakup—something that made me feel so small—was the biggest confidence booster of my life. I'm not saying that in a snarky way as a blow to my ex. I returned to a state of infancy that re-taught me how to take care of myself and figure out what was right and wrong for me. And despite how it all went down, I'm actually really thankful that he had the guts to cut it off, because even though I knew deep down that we weren't right for each other, I didn't have the courage to let go.
These last two years in NYC (my boyfriend and I have been together for a year) have been the happiest and most exhilarating of my life—and I'd done some pretty rad things all over the globe before I moved here. So, turning 28? Pssh. If 28's this good, I can't wait for 30.
What about you—how have you rebuilt your self-esteem after a big breakup?
Written by Laura Kusnyer for The Frisky
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