Years ago, I met a man who completely turned my world upside down.

He swooped into my life unexpectedly and changed everything I thought I knew about relationships, and I fell for him so fast it was almost like a dream.

But it was a dream, because 10 months later, I was crying on the floor, nursing my broken heart after our call. Ben had decided that he just wasn’t ready for a serious relationship, and just like that, the future I so desperately wanted for us came crashing down, taking me right along with it.

I sought out numerous psychics, talked it out over and over with some very patient friends, and cried myself to sleep for days. Bit by bit, I pulled myself together, but it wasn’t until I embraced these 3 key realizations that I was able to finally let go:

Instead of focusing on what I lost, I started being grateful for what I had gained.

Too many times do we fixate and lament on losing the good things that happened in a relationship, yearning for those moments for months and months.

I realized that this was, in a way, a sort of entitlement, because no one promised that the good things would last, and relationships, whether we like it or not, are always going to be a risk.

Ben taught me passion, excitement, and the joy of just being. I never knew the mysteries of the constellations nor the complexities of the human psyche before him. We would have never-ending talks about everything yet nothing at the same time.

I am so grateful that I had those 10 months where Ben was mine, and I was his. When you become grateful, you see things from a much different perspective, and that shift makes you feel humbled instead of feeling like you were owed these things.

I didn’t lose anything. I gained a lifetime of wonder because of him.

If I had truly loved him unconditionally, I would want him to be happy, even if it wasn’t with me.

It wasn’t until I said this out loud to a friend did I really understand the meaning of “unconditional love.” I let the words sink in. It was true, if Ben wasn’t happy with me, and I still insisted on being with him, wasn’t I the selfish one?

We often don’t think about our needs as being selfish because humans are wired to focus on the self. But when we take a good look at all the things we’re saying to ourselves, we find a lot of “me” s and “I” s in there.

“I want him to be happy with me.”

“I need him to want me again.”

“I want him to realize he’s made a mistake.”

Ben had made this choice, and no matter how much I disagreed with it, I needed to respect it. I wanted him to be happy, and if it wasn’t going to be with me, then I wish him all the best with someone else.

That’s what true love is.

It was never really about him. It was what I felt about myself when I was with him.

Strangely, the most profound shift that helped me get over Ben was realizing that I was really hurting over what he represented to me. In other words, Ben represented what I think I should have in life in order to feel special.

I had such a hard time getting over Ben for years because what I wanted was for him to whisk me away to another country and have adventures. He was passionate, ambitious, disciplined, and financially stable. 

And I wasn’t.

I wanted to be him. I was so happy living vicariously through his life, no matter how he treated me.

My self-esteem was elevated solely by the fact that I could get this awesome, exciting, talented man to want me. It was self-esteem by association. 

Through Ben’s achievements, I was something special. I wasn’t a loser and I hadn’t completely failed at life.

If you can figure out what your relationships gave you that made you feel special, you can then figure out exactly how you can give that back to yourself, so you won’t have to rely on anyone to give you that ever again.

You can’t get hurt by someone else if you already know that you’re special. If you already know that there’s nothing wrong with you.

So for me, I had to give myself the drive, ambition, and discipline that I was missing in my own life. Most of all, I had to believe that I was absolutely worth that.

And you’re worth it too. You just have to believe it enough to find these things on your own instead of relying on someone else to do it.

Believe in yourself just a little bit more, and you’ll find that letting go will become that much easier.