It took me a long time.
I spent a lot of time writing this text.
I grabbed the pencil and paper, countless times. I jotted down ideas, random words, made lists. I took a deep breath, traveled, saw new landscapes, gave kisses and many times stored everything in a drawer. Nothing came out with the fluidity and naturalness I wanted. But I wanted to write about this and I was sure of it.
Today, on a day of announced storm, when the wind confuses ideas and the rain cleanses thoughts, I opened the drawer and took out the written notes and ideas. I took the pencil and the sheet of paper and began to write.
"We always arrive at the place where they await us" - José Saramago
I often meet other women, just to be together and chat. I believe this is a ritual that is part of our DNA.
This almost vital and wonderful need to come together and share moments, experiences, feelings, dreams, sorrows and joys, exhaustions, new ideas, bitterness, projects, tears and laughter.
Perhaps this ritual, of coming together, of taking care and nourishing each other, in a safe and somewhat sacred place, is a need inherited from the heavy history of disadvantage and often misunderstanding that all of us women somehow carry within us.
In these many conversations from women to women, over time and with increasing frequency, I have heard the sharing of a feeling - discontent. The discontent with romantic relationships. A discontent and disillusionment, related to the lack of companionship, respect, support, affection, admiration, passion and dare I say, love.
I don't know whose fault it is, nor do I know if it matters to find out, but the truth is that I see more and more women full of value, plans, ideas, dreams and ambitions, being mistreated, or rather, not being treated by men, with whom they decided to share their lives one day.
These are women who live relationships, that are not relationships at all. They are, indeed, highly toxic situations, with a terrifying level of quality, that threaten mental and physical health and above all jeopardize and endanger our greatest asset, ourselves.
These are situations, often silent and dangerous, that have the power to slowly, in very soft doses, take our life and, even worse, take away our power, strength, and shine.
I have been in one of those situations, a toxic situation, that lasted for several years. I, too, was one of the women, sitting at a table in a lovely café, surrounded by friends, cried, spoke of my love for someone else, voiced my discontent, and even let out some laughs, disguised by a deep disillusionment with the sad situation I was in.
It was many years trying, believing, and putting all my strength into making the relationship work. It was even more years believing in more and better with that person, without it ever happening. Yes, I was also the woman who reached the limit of her strength, who felt guilty about everything and nothing, who cried all the tears she had, who began for the first time to feel anxiety and feel an anger in her chest she didn’t know how to deal with. I was also the woman who felt she couldn't take it anymore, but also couldn't leave that place. I was the woman whose head was a pile of unsolvable problems and dreams about to crumble. And in the silence of my room, I was the woman who knew that was not the type of relationship I believed in, but at the same time, exhausted, thought I would not know how to live without that person, wouldn't know how to live without...
Me! Especially me! A staunch feminist, a fervent defender of equality, true love, and boundless happiness.
Yes, even I was there, in that dark place with no light in sight.
But one day, with the help of many (to whom I am eternally grateful), I don't know where or how, but I found the remains of the strong and daring woman I had always been, and I said enough! I said enough to a situation that was bad for me and for him too.
I left home.
At the time, many said I was very brave for putting an end to such a long relationship, but at that moment, bravery was a feeling I couldn't wear.
It wasn't easy.
It was the hardest phase of my life.
No one ends well when ending with so much invested and above all, loving so much. I missed everything.
The smell, sleeping together, the house near the sea... The voice, the routine, life... I also missed myself a lot. I missed who I was before. And I often wondered why I had to go through such immense pain.
But the truth is, sooner or later, everything makes sense and everything happens for a valid reason.
And amid the storm, slowly, I managed to let go of what was heavy and painful, and I started to dance and laugh again and one day, I introduced Ms. Storm to the blue sky, the warm and brightly yellow sun, and the sea breeze.
So, from this place of confidence, bravery, serenity, empathy, and happiness, I write this text today for women who are in situations, not relationships.
Deep down, find your boldest side, believe in yourselves and in your dreams and desires. Be kind to yourselves and believe you deserve more, much, much more.
Question everything. Allow life to come inside you and watch how it can surprise you. Seek help, talk for hours, vent your pain and issues with those who only want to listen and comfort you.
Walk until your legs hurt, do what you love, and put yourselves at the center of your lives.
Remember, there's always a solution in life and we have a creative and dynamic mind that allows us to adapt, change, create.
Don't settle for less, for what makes you unhappy, for what doesn't value you. Love doesn't have to be heavy, painful, and complicated. Believe that storms don't last forever and each of us has a unique and special power - the power to do what we want with our life. And patiently, time goes by, storms come and go, the sun shines, the sea stirs, and life happens.
We walk... Alone or with someone who holds our hand, who asks if we're okay, who invites us to dance for no reason on any given Tuesday, making us smile and sigh.
Thanks to my family and all the women who listened to me, comforted me, and filled me with courage.
Thanks to them, I became myself again.
You can follow Isabel's work here.