It’s my fault we’re not together, and I’m sorry about that.
I’m sorry that I hurt you and that I hurt myself. I feel bad that it took me this long to take accountability for my behavior because I finally realize that you deserved better. I pushed you away, and I didn’t try as hard as I could have to make it work between us. I hardly tried at all, firmly situated in defense-mode. I feel bad, but I can’t wish I did things differently because making that mistake taught me a lesson that I needed to learn, even if that comprehension comes more than a year later.
I try to practice objectivity often, putting myself in someone else’s shoes, or at least trying to, so that I can exercise empathy for experiences outside of my own. But no matter how much we practice, there are some things we can only grasp in its entirety when it plays out in front of our eyes. This lesson came for me during a recent exchange. I witnessed someone blow up their relationship with a guy who was interested, invested, and honest.
It was clear that this person was acting against their own best interest, even if they couldn’t see it. They were their own worst enemy, creating false assumptions to defend themselves from what they saw as inevitable: heartbreak, rejection, and deceit. Suddenly, the relatability sifted through my body until its weight declined into the pit of my stomach—that person was me, and I was that person.
More than a year ago, I met someone new during a time of unprecedented isolation; you could say we had a rocky start. But at the first sign of disagreement, I panicked. He tried to meet me halfway, and I told myself I was reciprocating his efforts. But honest reflection and an uncomfortable conversation with myself revealed that I was positioned so far back in defense that he could never have reached me no matter how close he got. I expected heartbreak, so I thought I’d get ahead of it and rip the band-aid off myself. The problem was there was no need for a band-aid in the first place because there was no cut.
I assumed dishonesty without evidence while discrediting the openness he’d shown me thus far. Instead of leaning into vulnerability, I stepped back, way back so that I could avoid a punch to the gut. I spent so much energy on the defense that I couldn’t see there was nothing to be defensive about.
Oddly enough, sometimes we are the ones standing in our own way. When you’re used to being hurt or lied to, the body subconsciously tries to defend itself any time you enter a situation where this outcome becomes a remote possibility.
But your past does not need to define your present. While your experiences will continue to impact the choices you make and the environments you choose to occupy, they do not need to finalize your fate; that’s for you to decide.
Rejection may feel crushing, but it’s up to you to handle your way through that pain rather than to stay stuck in it. Don’t blame your past experiences to justify hurtful actions you push out into the world today. Maybe someone that hurt you made you this way—but you’re the one keeping yourself this way.
You’re actively carrying that hurt with you into each day, projecting it onto others, and letting the cycle grow and continue. Hurt people hurt people, while drowning in a shallow puddle of the past.
Love people even when you don’t want to; more importantly, when you don’t want to. Opening yourself up to the possibility of heartbreak is worth the opposing outcome.
Your time for love will come, but the moment you get out of your own way brings you that much closer.