I was crying as I hit send on a message that would end something I didn’t want to end.

I so badly wanted it to continue. That wanting was laced deep in my bones and tied up with the dreams I had created in my heart. Deciding to let go of that want, of that pulsing, all consuming desire, was an incredibly painful thing to do. But somewhere, amongst all that pain, was the realisation that I had decided to love myself instead, and that realisation felt a lot like freedom.

Loving ourselves is not something we do enough. Women in particular, are especially bad at this. I have sat with countless women as they told me their stories of love. Of the love they had piled onto the men in their life, who couldn’t or wouldn’t give it back. Of the love affairs that lingered, of the men that held on, of the promises made, and broken, and of the ones that kept hope dangling on a silk thread. These are incredibly women, who have incredible things to offer their partners, but who have all, at one point or another, waited for the love they gave, to come back around. Waiting on a hope, a prayer, a dream, or a promise.

It seems to be a trait of my gender, to unfailingly give, and accept less in return. Which seems like a ridiculous thing to do, but let’s not forget that we’re members of a society that screams at us to ‘stand by our men’. Through thick and thin, love and hate. It’s hard to see clearly thorough that, and then separate your desires from societies expectations. The reasons for this are many, and go deeper into the patriarchy than I care to delve right now, but regardless of the why, it happens.

I know it happens, because I’ve watched my girlfriend do it, and I too, have done it. I, like the women before me, and no doubt the ones that will come after me, have waited. With open arms and an open heart, I have waited for a man to give me the love I craved from him. I have held back, gone slow, made myself smaller, waited, bit my tongue, repressed my thoughts, dreamed and hoped. You hope they’ll finally have that moment of realisation where they know what a good thing they’ve got, and they’ll knock on your door with a bunch of flowers, ready to give their all, instead of scraps of promised love, but it never happens. The door doesn’t knock, happiness doesn’t come, and the vase remains empty.

Yet you hold on, waiting a little bit longer. Because maybe it is meant to be. And maybe he does need time. And maybe it’s going to be alright. And maybe he’s just going through a rough patch. And maybe he’s your person. And maybe, you’ll finally be the woman to stay and fight for him. Maybe he just needs someone to show him they’re going to stay. And maybe we’ll laugh about it one day.

The things we tell ourselves to calm our beating insecurities are imaginative, sometimes ludicrous, and a product of our own self-preservation. Because maybe none of those things are true, and maybe he just doesn’t want you. Maybe he only wants you late at night or once a month. Maybe he just wants your laughter, without your pain. Maybe he likes you in moderation. These things can all be true, but it’s so very hard to accept those truths, and so we wait.

But here’s the thing, none of it is actually about him, and the things he may or may not do. It’s actually about us, and why we find it so goddamned difficult to love ourselves enough, to demand more. Why we’re so quick to give away our power to a man, and so afraid to say the things we want out loud. We became women in a world that told girls to be uncomplicated, easy and not emotional. When that’s your reference point coming into womanhood, it’s pretty fucking difficult to change the paradigms of that discourse and start pouring out your emotions, of which there are naturally many, to the opposite gender. That’s when we start holding back and squashing our thoughts, and before you know it, you’re convincing the man opposite you that you’re not one of those ‘emotional girls’ and you’re super ‘laid back’. Which basically translates as, ‘I promise I won’t get emotional, and you can come and go as you please’.

Well fuck that! Of course I’m going to get emotional, and this isn’t a brothel, so I’d quite like a say in when I see you too. That’s the kind of thing we should be saying more of, instead of answering with silence.

Walking away from the person you love, seems like the stupidest idea you’ve ever had, but it’s actually a wonderful moment of acceptance for the human you are. It’s the moment you finally realise that despite your longing, despite your wants and desires, you finally understand that you deserve more than the person in your life is currently prepared to give you. That’s not to say you’re attributing blame or hatred on anyone, because we’re all travelling our own journeys, and you cant will someone along theirs quicker than they’re ready to go, but it does mean you’re choosing yourself. That you’re accepting the things you cannot change, and you’re wise enough to know you want better. That you’ve stopped making yourself smaller, and you’re shouting ‘me’, right out loud.

I’ve had that ‘me’ moment, and for all the parts of my heart that are cracking in my ribs, and for all the pain that flows through my body every night as I lie down to confront the dark, there’s a real sense of freedom. Of Elysium peace, as your beating heart finally stills, safe in the knowledge that love is pouring out of it, and straight into your own veins, safe where it belongs, first and foremost.