Words from Friends: ‘Turbulent Relationships, and Why You’re Better off Without Them’

Samantha is a Birmingham based artist. Today, she shares with us some hard-hitting truths about turbulent relationships from her own experience, and explains why you are better off without the person, and the relationship. If you would like to check out and support her amazing artwork, take a look at her website: www.thecreepypaintbox.com.

A note to you: please don’t see this article as a faceless person typing to you with empty relationship advice from behind a screen – my name is Samantha, and I am intending to be a friend. For some of you, I may be your reality check or your tough pill to swallow. Please do not be afraid, you deserve the very best energy.

This year, I have grown very quickly and very positively in a very small amount of time. We won’t delve into the ins-and-outs of every single thing that has lead me to this moment, but I will tell you that one of the most positive changes I have ever made was giving up on a long-term relationship for good. 

I met my ex-boyfriend at a college I had started in 2014. We were to be on the same course for the next two years, but we didn’t officially get together until January of 2016. Slowly but surely, our lives entangled – we knew each other’s friends, we went on holiday once with some of mine, I was close with his family, he didn’t see mine as often, but they knew him just fine. 

Firstly, relationships that start in education don’t always work out well; I personally think this is mainly due to maturing. You are both growing up. You are both sponges, absorbing all the knowledge and experience you can to discover who you really are. You will not be the same people at the start of the course as you will at the end. As months go by, you will continue to grow and learn, at different rates. You may grow together, or you may stunt one another’s growth – the biggest tell of this is self-reflection (this may take some practice). Ask yourself in the time that you have been together, if you are stronger, healthier, wiser, kinder, and all-around better than you were in the beginning. Ask yourself the same about them too. Do they seem stronger, healthier, wiser, kinder, and better?

So, unhappiness and insecurity in the relationship begins within the first year – let’s say it’s all a part of ups and downs. There are always good and bad moments. But a particular incident makes me distrustful and causes a rift between us. This incident is barely resolved, but I’ve never really had one group of girlfriends that all know one another – just a load of girlfriends that don’t know each other so we all socialise separately. The relationship does not take long to become isolating – without it, I would feel so lonely, so I ignore the unhappiness. I voice my hurt often, because it has not been dealt with.

Let’s talk about you – you have your doubts, you might only have a small feeling at the moment, but it’s big enough that you know it’s there. Are you brushing them aside because you’re scared to be alone? I did that once too. I felt like I had no other friends. Did you ditch your friends for the boy? Remember to olive branch, remember to reach out. Extending the relationship may temporarily give you some good feelings, but it also extends the bad feelings too. Don’t forget that. 

In the next two years of my relationship, there are more incidents and big fall outs – no one really knows because I haven’t told anyone. My mental health takes a nose-dive, and I am overly emotional. I am tired, but why haven’t I left? Because I am terrified. Leaving a relationship can be scary for so many reasons, but for me, I was scared to feel the emptiness and the hurt, I was scared to lose my routine and to see my mental health hit it’s all time low. I didn’t think I was strong enough to leave. But the longer I stayed, the worse things became.

You might be scared to leave because of your own fears, but let me tell you, things will get worse if you stay, and I can guarantee it. You are strong, and it will be hard, and you may suffer, but aren’t you already suffering being with someone who cannot give you what you need? You will heal. You will.

The final year of the relationship is turbulent. It is difficult, tiring and exhaustive, for both of us. It’s like having one of those children’s shape toys and forcibly trying to make a triangle fit into a square. It does not work. Regardless, we have an expensive holiday booked. Even though most of the time we barely talk about anything anymore, we hold out for the holiday. That brings me to financial pressure – maybe you have an expensive holiday booked, a mortgage to pay off, debt, or maybe you owe them something. Get financial advice, speak to multiple people. Spend time with your family, ask for help. Just don’t believe that staying will fix it. Don’t believe that expensive holiday will straighten it all out after a hard year. It won’t.

Despite everything that has gone on, and without contradicting the previous statement, the holiday itself is great. But then we get back, and we go back to barely speaking. Not because we cannot communicate, but because there is nothing to talk about anymore.

Eventually, we have a face-to-face “talk” instigated by his feelings or lack thereof. I end things when the conversation does not come to a definitive conclusion. It’s almost Christmas – he’s got all my gifts sorted but my pay day is later, so I haven’t begun. He wants to meet and do a gift exchange shortly after, so I purchase a few gifts for the moment, but the meeting is uncomfortable and awkward as we barely speak. He eventually explains he wants to work things out. That’s when I mentally affirm that I feel lonely in the relationship, but things are getting difficult at home, so I agree to work on it for the sake of trying. For the possibility things may be different. You should not feel alone in a relationship. Do not confuse the emptiness with comfortability. You should not believe things will be different if you repeat the same actions over and over – you will get the same results. 

2020 begins, I lose my grandparents, and this is when I struggle the most with “working things out”. This is when things draw to a close. We argue a lot, we meet up and have sex, and I just don’t care anymore – about any of it. But I mistake this turbulence as a result of grief, so I continue as we have. Do not make this mistake that I did; you may be doubting yourself, but you shouldn’t. Never doubt your feelings. You know what you need. 

After a couple months, the grief subsides; but I still feel lonely in a relationship that is incompatible. We are not right for each other. I have now accepted this. After another long while of barely talking, I pick up the phone and communicate this. I draw things to a close. 

At first, he struggles with this – he thinks I don’t mean this. He thinks we should meet up. He thinks he’s being cheated on. He thinks it will work it out if we try harder, and that it hasn’t worked because we haven’t been trying. 

People can become manipulative when they are emotional and they aren’t getting something they want (and maybe they just want the idea of you, but in reality they can’t take care of you at all). 

You may have experienced this, you may soon experience it, or if you don’t experience it at all, count yourself lucky. This part, of the whole experience, can be the most difficult. You run the risk of letting your guard down; then their hooks will catch you, and you can fall back. They are lying to you. They are hurt, and they want their way. This is the first time you might ever be hearing this: stop thinking about their feelings. Stop thinking about them. Only think of your feelings. Be selfish now.

After this conversation, the one where he says every thing he can to keep things ticking over, I vividly remember going downstairs and sitting with my mom – whom I never speak to about my love life or personal issues. I get upset and I tell her I know I’m ready to move on, but I don’t want to hurt him. She says that we’re going to hurt either way. We’re not happy. I’m not happy. She knows this, she tells me to think of myself and the woman I’ve become, and what I need. 

I cry, but I accept that this is what I want to do, and what needs to be done. I do it. I blow off all the advances, I don’t address the accusations fully because they’re false, and just a tool to make me angry and emotional. I refuse to be worn down further. 

So finally, it ends. And the biggest surprise for me was when it was done, and the conversation had ended – I felt relief. A ginormous, cooling wave of relief. No fear, no hurt, no anger. I knew I had made the right decision. All the big scary things you think will happen when you leave that person will not happen at all. That conversation will come and pass almost as quickly as it started. You will then start the healing process. You will be okay.

It does not take long for me to start seeing someone new – to my utmost surprise. I had intended to stay low and stay single, take time to really reflect and heal, but upon making a reconnection with someone I knew a few years back (which is basically like meeting someone totally new in a way), things feel right very quickly. I worry about what people will think at first, but then I decide I deserve this. People will judge you and your ex whatever side of the story they hear accordingly, so do what you want. Be happy. They’re going to speculate about what they think or what they have heard has happened between you both regardless.

It is September 2020 – I was in a very different place at the beginning of the year. I was in an incompatible, turbulent situation with my ex-boyfriend, and now, I am content with myself and I am thriving. I have a positive relationship. I am happier than I have ever felt in a few months as opposed to a four-year relationship. 

I know you may have related to this massively. Maybe you’re where I was, ready to move on but scared to. You may have suffered deeply, and you may feel like no one will love you again or that you will not get better. I am beside you; I am here for you. I have sat in the very same place you may find yourself in currently. You will love and be loved again, and this time it will be a love precisely for you. In your long-term relationship, you now have learnt to know what you want and need from a lover – it was not a waste of time. You did not lose “X” amount of years of your life. You would have spent those years regardless. You have more experience now; you are stronger and better-equipped to deal with conflict and hurt.

It’s going to be okay, and you will be very happy. And eventually, when you feel it’s right and you are ready, you will be with someone who never treats you the way you have been treated. Move on; go on to do amazing things with your life. Grow more, learn more, love more.

If you would like to write your own ‘Words from Friends’ feature, please get in touch! I am happy to discuss any topic, so long as it is either something you’re passionate about, or something you wish more people had knowledge of.


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