Samuel Johnson once said, “Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folly of the wise.”
If you have ever been in love, you are no fool. To love and be loved is what some people search and yearn for throughout their entire lives. It is a blessing and a curse that you have had the opportunity to experience something so powerful. You are blessed in that, by divine happenstance, you were able to be whole, only to discover that you really felt like a half until the other person completed you. How amazing that you were able to lean on someone and know that you had their complete and utter support. How comforting to wake up with your head resting on the chest of the one you love, hearing the steady rhythm of a sleepy heart.
Breaking up with someone or being broken up with is one of the most difficult things to overcome. No matter which side of the situation you’re on, there is an overwhelming sense of pain. But this pain, like all others, will subside and, eventually, heal. You were whole, and merely felt like a half; you were born and raised up as “whole.” And you will feel complete again. Coming out of a long and serious relationship, I feel that these revelations have helped me, but I understand that everyone will not see things the same way I do. If anything, I hope this piece will allow you to remember that you are wonderful and you are worth it.
One thing I think is crucial to healing is to acknowledge and accept whatever you feel. What you feel is always valid; how you choose to cope with this is where things can get tricky. I know, firsthand, that it is so much easier to repress emotions and memories than to acknowledge and feel them. For the past five months, I’ve felt nauseous every time I hear a song we used to play in the car. I see a sunset and can’t help but remember how enchanted he’d be at the sight of the colors reflecting off of the ocean. I look at the shoes I wore when we were on vacation together and think to myself that I’d rather go barefoot. Slowly, surely, I begin to realize that this does nothing for me. Other than for making myself sick, what good is this? I deserve so much more than to be trapped and frightened by my own emotions. I deserve to be able to hear that song and remember the feeling of the wind in my hair as we sang with the windows rolled down; to look at a sunset in awe and wonderment and admire its beauty on my own; to wear the same shoes that I wore throughout the streets of Dresden, feeling the warm German sun on my shoulders. My memories included him, but they need not revolve around him. I can accept him being a part of my life because he was. And that time of my life was amazing. But the memories that surround these things don’t have to be viewed as taboo just because he’s in them. It hurts that he is attached to so many of my memories, but it doesn’t mean that I should be afraid to remember them.
Another thing I try to remember is that personal growth is an inevitable part of this process. I was broken up with because my ex had to go “discover” himself. Now, I understand the reasoning and the benefits of such a decision. But, at the time, I thought that was the most bullsh#t excuse ever. How could you not know yourself after twenty years of being you? These past few months, though, I’ve realized that the space he claimed he needed for his growth has actually helped nurture my own. I have always prided myself on being confident and independent. Yes, I was both of these while I was in the relationship. And I was definitely not open to the idea that I may get to know myself better or become more independent by means of heartache. But I have been proven wrong. Just because I am more independent now does not mean that I wasn’t independent then; just because I am more confident now does not mean that I wasn’t confident then. This process has given me the opportunity to realize that being with someone does not create who I am, it merely adds to it! I am who I always was, I have just been expanded and fortified.
The last piece of advice I would like to offer is to learn to love yourself again. In no way am I implying that you don’t or that you need someone else to love you. I think it is important, however, to know that (whether you’re the one who did the breaking up or the one who was broken up with) there is nothing wrong with you. If you did the breaking up, know that you did so for a reason. You knew that something was not right and you chose to do what was best for yourself; that takes courage. It also takes courage to accept that there is nothing wrong with you if you were the one who was on the other side of the breakup. In either case, it is important to learn to love yourself. For a period of time, you had the luxury of allowing someone else to love you. You still loved yourself then, but the power of your own love was unnoticed and underappreciated because you didn’t have to acknowledge it. And that’s totally fine! You will learn and grow and become so much more than you thought you could when you learn to love and receive yourself.
For all of you who feel like you have been shattered into hopeless fragments, know that it’s alright to hurt and that it will take time to piece yourself back together. Ernest Hemingway said, “We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.” Being broken is not weakness. Being broken is to be truly and undeniably alive.