Life is hard and relationships are hard. Everyone knows this, but no matter how many times you hear other people say it, it doesn’t actually click until something smacks you right in the face.

In two days I will be turning 31 years old, and my boyfriend and I will be entering our 9th year together. Things have been particularly hard this past year.

In December 2016 I lost my business, which was incredibly heartbreaking as I not only lost the place that I love, but also lost a connection I had with dozens of people I had seen every day for the previous 4 years.

The beginning of 2017 I was lost in limbo, trying to figure out what to do next, trying to keep my hope and motivation alive, the only constant in my life being my boyfriend. But that was changing because we didn’t own a business together anymore. We didn’t control our own schedules or see each other every day. Our need for work and financial stability started to take over. Life started to pull us apart.

Then last summer, as we were trying to keep our heads above water, we learned that we could no longer live in the place we made our home for the previous 5 years, and we learned it in the most heart-breaking and devastating way. Neither of us have fully recovered from that. The small amount of hope that we had left dissipated, and we retreated separately into our own emotional Hell.

I took on more work and more jobs. We saw each other less and less. And I sank.

Deeper and deeper into the dark emotional abyss of depression and disappointment. And so did he. Opposite schedules. Opposite sleep patterns. Alone. Living in parallel universes in different dimensions. Suffering the same yet unable to comfort each other because we had both sunken too deep.

My heart became empty. My dreams became faint memories of hope I once had. I was present but not there. I was alive but not living. I had retreated so deep into myself that I was a shell of who I was, an outside (or inside) observer of my own life, without the strength or motivation to speak up.

I’ve been through hard times before. I know my strength. I know my abilities. So why was I having such a hard time climbing up out of this hole?

Because people change. I was changing. And this is why relationships are hard.

Life will always have it’s difficulties; that is a constant. But what do you do when a past solution no longer fixes the same problem? What do you do when the problems evolve, or when you do?

This is where the real strength comes into play. Most people are too afraid to face the change, or even to admit to it. Most people like to pretend that they are the way that they are, and that it’s other people that change. So how do you make a relationship survive?

You adapt. Together. You enter the next phase together, with your past as a foundation, and the connection of your souls remains the glue.

Because you cannot truly love someone without truly knowing them. And you can’t know someone without have been to Hell and back with them, without knowing every facet of their heart and character, at all ages, at all times.

Our lives are a string of beads, a range of mountains; different parts of the same collection.

I am moving on the next mountain, and the other piece of my soul is always with me.

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