Sacrifice

Stephen and I have ended our romantic relationship, but we remain friends. He is a genuinely good person with a beautiful and caring heart, and I do not regret a moment of the nearly two years we have enjoyed together. We have supported each other through large transitions in both of our lives, as well as a period of mutual personal growth. From the beginning, our relationship has required tremendous amounts of effort and emotional vulnerability, while we each worked out our respective issues. I can honestly say we are both much healthier, well-rounded individuals today. But the suspicion has been growing stronger that this has run its course, and I am exhausted. It is now time for me to take care of myself, and for Stephen to take care of himself.

Jin and Stephen

Stephen is also sixteen years older than me, and dreaming of his retirement, while I have been building the go-go life of a convention-hopping nomad. We can, and will, continue to support each other as friends, but this is where our life paths start to diverge. When Stephen first found me, alone, and twisting in the wind after a traumatic experience, he said, “I want to teach you to fly.” That, he accomplished. But eventually I would have to stretch my wings.

Jin and Stephen

Right now, what I need and want most is to be alone so that I can focus on my new book. I am not an ideal partner — I need a lot of quiet time and a lot of near-solitude. Once the honeymoon period wanes away, realistically, I am going to be happiest with another industrious workaholic, and someone I can connect with on an artistic level. My work is at the heart of my identity. I feel the absence of a connection there, acutely. And it makes me sad. Three years ago, I left, with a dream of eventually becoming half of a creative team with a new partner. Someone I could deeply share all of myself with. Over the past few months, I have seen my dream in action, with the mutually-creative and supportive husband and wife team of Joseph and Kristina Linsner. It can be done. And I cannot allow loneliness, insecurity, or fear to lead me into a life of regret and depression for a second time. It is not fair to me, and it is not fair to Stephen. I am content alone. I am prepared to build my career alone. I am prepared to remain alone, if it comes to that. My work is my everything.

Soon, I will be removing the television set from my apartment and discarding the couch, as they only serve to remind me of the time I have squandered in the past. I want a quiet life of simple food, simple pleasures, hard work, and sacrifice. As long as I have food, health, and bills are paid, that is enough.

This hurts terribly, but the right choice is rarely the easy choice.

Someone once told me, “Pain is bad, and you should do everything you can to avoid it.” But pain is an essential part of life. Pain reminds us to appreciate the things we have in the moment, because loss is guaranteed, and life itself is a temporary condition. By embracing pain, and allowing it to travel through us, we are able to untangle the stranglehold of fear. And when we no longer fear pain and our own emotions, we are free to become our true selves.

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