I am currently in a state of becoming. I am moving toward a better me.
I am currently single. I am working on myself, by myself and solely for myself. I am alone, yet I am not lonely — most of the time.
I am in a blissful state of self-discovery. I know some don’t necessarily have to be single in order to find themselves, but I’ve found that the only time I truly grow is when I am alone.
Though I have learned many valuable lessons from the world of love, I still ask myself: How different would my life be if I learned from my mistakes earlier and wisened up to my own self-destructive tendencies? Could I have avoided the pointless heartbreaks and the people who came into my life only to leave with pieces of me they never deserved?
Valentine’s Day is here — marked by rose-colored hearts, candies and advertising campaigns taking advantage of the holiday — and while I see friends posting about their significant others, I find myself happy to have grown from last year.
Last Valentine's Day I was in a relationship, but I was still cynical about everyone else in love. At the time, I couldn't quite put my finger on the source of my anger, but now, I know why I was so upset:
I was still holding onto pain I thought I’d grown and healed from.
For one of the first times in my life, I am ecstatic that I’m alone. My heart holds no cynicism or hatred, just peace. And while I wish this feeling had come sooner, I know the mistakes I’ve made in the past year and a half have been necessary for my growth.
My entire life, I associated happiness with relationships. As all the girls in my middle school began dating, I started to think, “Maybe I’ll be happy when I get a boyfriend.” I attached my identity to the idea of romanticism and love at just 10 years old. I longed to be pretty and desired. I longed to be wanted.
High school hit, and I finally had my first real boyfriend. But as the year came to an end, so did the relationship.
I wasn't heartbroken, though. Something was just missing, and I became frustrated when I thought, "Well this love thing isn't all it's cracked up to be."
Looking back now, I laugh because I really had no idea what love was.
Not a month later, on a warm September evening, I learned that love was a guiding arm showing me how to shoot a basketball. Love knew my family. Love and I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning watching House Bunny and giggling like 15-year-old girls do. I laid my head back on my pillow that night, and I knew that she was going to change my life forever – and that she did.
I was in love for over two years, though she only loved me for half that time. But if I ignored the red flags and only focused on my idealized version of her and our relationship, I’d be fine, right? I wouldn’t get my heart broken, rather break my own heart, right?
It took me two years to learn that I should never have to beg for love.
By that time, love had left me alone in a big, empty and lonely house with the lights still on. The rooms echoed when I called love’s name out, full knowing she was gone but holding onto the hope that parts of her lived in the walls. I was pained by the lights she left on, but they meant she was still with me. So, because they reminded me of her, they stayed on. No matter how much they hurt me.
That experience left me with the impression that love was pain and there’s no way to escape horrific heartbreaks.
I had a similar epiphany then to the one I am in now, I was single for three months. I thought I’d left the old me behind, and I thought I’d healed from my one bad experience with love.
Back then, the illusion of healing was enough for me. And at age 17, I fell in love again.
This love was different, though. This love was much less firey, it was softer. This love was tall with an anatomical heart-shaped tattoo on her wrist. This love had been hurt too, and we bonded over the pain.
This love reassured me. This love told me I was beautiful. This love wasn’t afraid to hold my hand in public. This love followed me through high school graduation into my freshman year of college.
We never fought, nothing bad happened. We just fell out of love, the 50-minute drive she made every weekend became a hassle. And I don’t blame her, I never did and I never will.
She was the one person who never hurt me. Things just didn’t work, and I never let go of the fact that sometimes love is just not enough.
It took me until just recently to realize my pain. The breakup was a year and a half ago.
Love went dormant for a time as the fire to be simply wanted and desired took over. I faked personas for people and made them out to be better in my head than they were in real life. I fell in love with the fake versions of them I thought up, then got upset when they proved me wrong. As if they could change in a heartbeat into what I wanted them to be.
I swore I was in love with all of these idealizations, but really they were just distractions. Distractions from my real pain, distractions from rationality and distractions from the immense self-growth I needed.
The realization that I needed to change finally hit me when I hurt someone. Someone who truly cared about me.
Someone who so desperately loved me and who was so good for me. He genuinely cherished me in ways I hadn’t experienced in years, and because of this I convinced myself I loved him. He was what was best for me so I faked my love for him without even knowing it. I thought I loved him when I really only loved the idea of him.
I wasn’t ready to be treated right, which sounds so backwards. I hadn’t been genuinely respected in over a year and a half, what was stopping me from grabbing onto what I had been looking for and deserved?
I still don’t know. All I knew was that it wasn’t right. So I left, and I hurt him greatly.
I still have no excuse other than I am sorry. I am sorry for not having greater self-awareness. I am sorry my disaster and pain fell onto you. And most importantly, I am sorry I didn’t heal earlier so I could have been right for you.
So, after all of this, I again ask myself: How different would my life be if I learned from my mistakes earlier and wisened up to my own self-destructive tendencies earlier? Could I have avoided the pointless heartbreaks, the people who came into my life only to leave with pieces of me they never deserved?
My answer is this:
Maybe my life would be better. Maybe I’d walk around with less pain. Maybe I’d be able to trust people more. Maybe I’d have less nightmares. Maybe I’d be able to feel more empathy for people.
But, then again, maybe I wouldn’t.
I definitely wouldn’t be as smart. I definitely wouldn’t be as strong. And I definitely would still be making the same mistakes had I not had a terrible year and a half for love straight.
The truth is that no matter what, I needed to feel alone for that time. I needed to be broken. I needed to idealize those around me and be let down. Because without all of these things I wouldn’t be who I am today. And no one is worth the price of my own personal growth.
Allow yourself to be single, screw the holiday. Screw it if everyone around you is in love or is looking for love. Being stagnant in the instance of romance is perfectly okay. Being stagnant in the instance of your self-growth is not.
Love is not the enemy, nor is anyone really for that matter. None of this is shameful, it’s okay to want to be loved. It’s a basic human need. But to need to be loved so badly that you are blinded to the fact that you are a walking nightmare? Trust me, it’s not worth it.
I am taking this alone time to heal. I am writing letters to those who either broke my heart or I broke my own heart over. Sorta like a “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” moment, only let’s pray these letters never get out.
I am currently in a state of becoming. I am moving toward a better me.
And I am currently ecstatic with how my life is going. Without love.