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I was never one for fairytale endings, I never cared about a prince sweeping me up and saving me, I never cared about being the girl always in a relationship, I liked being alone and independent…until I met him.  Suddenly my “I” got turned into “we” and my nights turned into dates and before long I was no longer the girl who swore men were a waste of time. I understood the appeal and wanted to feel the love, for the first time I had all these feelings for someone I wasn’t even checking for months prior. Three months felt like an eternity but it wasn’t long before I learned that they were fake, because I wasn’t the only girl he was making feel like this, I was being lied to and gaslighted for months and everyone knew but me. I was no longer Zaria but Zaria and him, Zaria and the other girl he was with, Zaria the home wrecker, Zaria the victim, Zaria the clown. I was more embarrassed than sad, but more sad than angry, I kept thinking what was wrong with me? What did I do to deserve this? And the short answer? Nothing. No amount of perfectness would have kept this from happening mainly because of his choices but partly because of how I disrespected myself.


Apart from missing multitudes of red flags, I ignored certain boundaries that I had always set in relationships because I liked him  and I also disrespected boundaries that we had previously set. The moment I had to ask about the same girl more than once was the first problem, and after finding lies I continued in the situationship instead of backing away. I sat down and wrote down a list of things I would no longer be accepting and things that would cause me to leave after the first mistake. I should never have to beg for reassurance or beg to be treated like I am important. A partner who likes me would treat me like they like me, no questions asked. I realized that I was never asking for too much, I was just asking the wrong person. 


I had to let go of that chapter of my life, even if it left me feeling empty. I realize that if I kept trying to rationalize it in my head I would forever be hurt. I’m working on accepting that as real as it was for me, it does not mean that it was as real for them and that’s okay. I was genuine and true and I can live my life knowing that I gave apart of myself, a vulnerable soft part, from that I would never be able to hide again and that’s okay because one day that part of me will be given to someone who deserves it. I fell for someone that didn’t exist, someone I didn’t even know but that said nothing about me and everything about him and that’s okay because it was time to let go. 


The hardest part of healing is forgiveness. I have to forgive people who weren’t even sorry, I have to forgive people who dragged my name through the dirt and hurt me, but most importantly I had to forgive myself for what I felt like I had let happen because I ignored so many signs. Forgiveness is such an important step for me because once I forgive I can move on, without an apology, and I can grow knowing that I no longer hold that hurt or anger in my heart…I had to do it for me because I deserve to move on. It’s a step I’m still working on because I’m still hurt but it’s getting easier.


I deserve the love I was so eager to give out. I deserve the love I always dreamt of. I deserved to give this love to myself until I was ready to experience that with someone else. In the months that passed, I was so worried about saving something unsalvageable that I continued to put myself second and I didn’t deserve that. I’ve been working on loving every nook and cranny, every imperfection, every part of me that I felt wasn’t good enough for them, wasn’t good enough to be loved, I’m spending time proving my past self wrong, proving that I am lovable. 

This journey was not one I expected, after having my heart broken I wanted to disappear, to have Summer Walker blasting as I hid under the covers until I could go home, which i did do for a day. However, I realized that if i let someone else control my emotions and dictate my life I wouldn’t be able to evolve into the woman God has already planned for me to be. With the help of my friends love and these steps I have been able to start healing after the heartbreak.

Zaria Milledge

Hampton U '23

My name is Zaria Milledge I am a second year Political Science student from Bartlett, Illinois. I aspire to one day be a lawyer and then Supreme Court Justice.
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