In seventh grade science class, I learned that matter always is: it can never be created, lost or destroyed. It is simply transformed or recycled into something new, something unrecognizable.
A month ago, my relationship came to an end. This was a person that I had loved blindly and unconditionally while we were together. This past month, I had been feeling such sadness and anger over all of the love I put into a black hole never to see again that I had forgotten a very important lesson that I had learned in the seventh grade: love is like matter. It can never be created or destroyed, it is just recycled or transferred, but it is always present if we open our eyes to our other relationships in our lives.
Often times we get hung up on the selfish love, the love where our ego is involved (i.e., romantic love). Our love is truly rooted in a place of genuine concern and appreciation. However, based on our significant other’s reaction and response to our love, we wonder if we are worthy of their love or we confuse unsound foundations of trust and communication with being terrified of what it would mean to lose this person or have them choose someone else over us.
Of course, when the right person does come along and you are in a place where you love yourself and you know your self worth, these doubts associated with romantic love won’t often arise, or you will see the relationship for what it truly is earlier on. However, I did have these doubts in my relationship and what I was lacking in self-love, I put into uncertain love with my then-boyfriend. In the end, that love didn’t really benefit anyone if he wasn’t in a place to receive it, appreciate it, and either return the love or pay it forward. The love remained in a standstill. And I remained consumed by unsatisfying love.
It took a period of mourning when our relationship ended, but I finally see that all the love I was giving to him, I have rediscovered in other relationships in my life. I have redistributed love that was once stagnant in the form of old friendships and in passions of mine like performing at open mics or waking up for the sunrise. I have seen that the love I gave to him has been returning to me even the first day of moving into a new apartment with a new roommate who, when I lost my wallet on the beach, spent 3 hours scouring the sand at night with me and keeping my spirits high (it turns out that the contents of my wallet were, like love, also returned to the universe).
I was so caught up in the love that had left, that I hadn’t seen where it had entered in other parts of my life. I feel so incredibly lucky that I am surrounded by friends and family that love me in the same unconditional way that I loved my boyfriend. Romantic relationships may have a physical gratification and we can sometimes fall into the trap of ascribing our self-worth and worthiness of being loved on our partner’s reaction to the love we give them, but putting the love into other relationships in our lives is much more rewarding in the end. Our friendships typically have more durability and a much longer shelf life than our romantic relationships and those people will be the ones to shower us with love when our romances come to an end.
Telling someone how to appreciate us or how to love us will ultimately never be satisfying or genuine if they don’t realize it on their own. The hardest part of moving on is facing this indifference head on. This won’t be easy. There will always be the nights spent fighting the urge or giving in to sending them a sentimental message that you hope will remind them that your love is worth it, that you are worth it. However, this urge will subside when you remember that their response (or lack thereof) will never be satisfying enough because chances are a light bulb won’t go off and they won’t start fighting for your love the way you fought for theirs.
We find peace when we accept the worst case scenario: the fear in the pit of our stomach that they may never realize what it meant for us to love them unconditionally and they may never return our love. Rather than lamenting these potential truths, we should embrace them as opportunities to strengthen our other sources of love when our main source has been shut down.
Of course, when the right romantic relationship comes along, the love, energy and time we put into that person will not only bring us benefits, but will also improve the love we put forth in our other relationships. And I am not saying either to regret or lament the love you put into someone else who left your gift unopened or took the love and ran away. I am a firm believer that life is too short and uncertain to hold back and you should never regret taking an opportunity to let someone know you care about them. I don’t regret the relationship at all and I wouldn’t have done anything differently. In the end, the love I gave was returned to me in new and invaluable friendships I made through my ex, in wisdom, and in finding peace and happiness instead of bitterness and resentment by realizing that my love to him at least benefitted him in some way or another, even if I never got to reap the fruits of my labor directly.
Every time I catch myself being sad about my past relationship or feeling resentful of how much more effort I put into it, I now instead will call a friend I haven’t heard from in a while or write snail mail to someone or pick up my guitar and start writing a new song. These always serve as productive outlets for my love, where it is either appreciated or I can see the direct payoffs of it.
It may not feel like it, but in the moments when you think you’ve lost love, remember that you didn’t lose anything. Just open your eyes to all the other amazing people and things in your life. If you know the value of your love, then even if one person doesn’t recognize that, other people will, and you will soon find that all the love that you put out into the universe- even if you think it got trapped in a black hole — has been repackaged and redistributed back to you. You may not recognize it just yet, but it’s there.