I was trapped in a relationship for almost a decade.
Yes, you read that right. Trapped.
I spent nine years with a man that was the one for me when I met him at nineteen. But we grew apart. At our fifth anniversary dinner, I already knew we had an expiration date. Still, I stayed another four years.
The craziest thing about that story is not that I was stuck with him, no. I was trapped with a version of myself I didn’t have the courage to let go of.
When you enter a relationship, you are but joyous, enthusiastic, and full of hope (or you should be!).
This guy made me laughed, loved me for who I was at the time, and that’s truly all I needed in that instance. We would spend hours listening to music, talking about our future kids (I know!), and going to the movies. We moved in together very quickly and didn’t second guess it. I have always been quite impulsive. Maybe it’s my Sagittarius rising or my fire personality, but I try to follow my heart as much as possible.
Or at least, I thought I did.
During our time together, I decided to enroll in university and chose a program that wasn’t really in alignment with what I truly wanted to do. I thought to myself that our potential marriage and kids deserved stability. That made up future of ours needed me to seek higher education to provide for our picture-perfect life.
Let me be clear, he never asked me to do any of that. I did that on my own. I was so in love with the potential of our relationship and the future I had made up in my mind that I convinced myself that this was exactly what I wanted.
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.
So I changed. A lot. I felt like I was pulled in so many different directions. The twenty-something hopeless romantic in me wanted the commitment, the forever thing you see in the movies. Seventeen-year-old Sam wanted to go study journalism and travel the world. She wanted to one day settle down with a man and have a family. Maybe in Greece, Costa Rica, or even France? Or even better: Scotland!
Somehow I changed my vision of what my destiny should be and convinced myself that I couldn’t do any of it. It was all just a dream. Childish, non-realistic, and unattainable dreams. Anyway, dreams are not made to be lived, right?
The thing is, after a few years, my heart started to whisper some things.
Start your own business.
Write a bestseller.
Start a blog.
Go travel the world.
He’s not the one.
But I didn’t listen. I hit snooze instead—far too many times.
Call it intuition, gut feeling, your heart’s deepest desires. It doesn’t matter. What you are currently ignoring and mistaking as a little trickster messing with your head will come back roaring and charging at you like a lioness charges at her pray in the Savannah.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that if you escape this attack, it will not return to haunt you. It will. And during your many sleepless nights, you will end up asking yourself, ”Where did I take a wrong turn in my story?”
Those little glimpses of burning desire that try to come to the surface from time to time are what you truly want. They are what your higher self—your soul—knows is good for you. It knows where you are supposed to go and who you are meant to be with or leave behind.
If you live in a fantasy world as I did, when your illusions burst into millions of pieces or when you finally decide to honor your calling, it will hurt. The kind of hurt that can scar you forever. Because leaving what you believed was for you, what you tricked yourself into believing you needed or even wanted will break your heart and spirit.
So here I was, trapped in a relationship with an adult version of myself that my teenage self would have hated for sure. I wasn’t stuck with the guy. I was stuck with me. Torn between a twenty-seven-year-old illusion that I didn’t know at all and a seventeen-year-old one that didn’t recognize me anymore.
He’s the one that suggested the breakup. It was hard. Nine years of your life all gone to smoke. I didn’t know who I was without him or who I wanted to be. Somehow, I felt a huge sense of relief when it was over. Even though I couldn’t shake up the feeling that my life had completely fallen apart and that I was no one from here on now.
I went back to my dad’s house, living in the basement, in a dead-end job where I wasn’t even using the university diplomas that I worked so hard for. Shattered to pieces, lost, and with nothing in front of me.
One day in the middle of the storm, I picked up my laptop and started to write again. I wrote about how lost I was. I was in front of a blank canvas and had no idea what to paint on it. Clean slate. So many people would give everything they have to have the chance to start anew. I had that chance.
So, what to do and where to go from here?
First things first, I broke up with that version of myself. I had to let her go. It wasn’t me; it was her.
She was toxic in every way possible. She didn’t believe in me, in us, I should say. She shrank herself and wore a mask in front of people. She was a pathological liar, even believing her own lies. That version of Sam needed to be left in the past. But never forgotten. I will forever remember all of those lessons that came up with that breakup. The actual one and the one I had with myself.
I had to reconstruct a version of me that crumbled to pieces. The reason being, I had built my adult self to fit with my ”him and I” vision. So it was like a part of me burst into flames when he walked away.
I remember in the heat of our argument, I screamed at him, ”You took everything from me!”
He didn’t. I was the one who robbed myself of my own happiness. I needed to look in the mirror to see the one responsible for all of this was starring right back at me.
What I saw as a disaster turned out to be the greatest gift of all.
Since I didn’t know who I was anymore, I could only rely on who I was before him. Young adult fresh out of teenage years Sam. I took a ten-year detour to end up exactly where I was a decade before all of this. I just had to pick up the pieces, sew myself back together and try to incorporate parts of my younger self, the woman I had become, and the one I wanted to be to make a quilt out of me.
I am currently writing to you from my flat in the Scottish Highlands. See, the day I picked up my laptop to pour my heart out on an empty Word file, I chose me.
Within seconds of typing, I decided I would move to my dream country. Whatever job I ended up with, I promised myself that I would write on the side and share my truth and my story. That day, I chose to walk away from that made-up version of myself. I was going to be that lioness who goes after what she wants.
I was sewing myself back together into a new quilt. But mostly, I was going to stand up in the tempest and follow the light. The fierceness of the lioness, wrapped up in my quilt with nothing but hope and my words to guide me through it all.
After the storm comes everything you truly ever wanted.
The path to the life you want to roam is on the other side of that paralyzing fear. You have to walk through this hurricane and be brave. Make those hard decisions. Listen to the whispers of your heart, or it will soon become screams that will create havoc and insomnia, and you won’t be able to hit snooze anymore.
It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it, I promise.
So break up with the parts of your being that don’t serve you anymore, the parts that do not bring you pure happiness. Honor yourself. Give credit to the teenage version of you that had those big aspirations. She wasn’t crazy. She just dared to dream. She was bold, brilliant, full of life, and she wants you to go for it. She’s still rooting for you.
So, what’s your next move, girl?