I have exes whose eyes I will avoid if I am unlucky enough to be in the same room as them for five minutes. I have had breakups that drove me to move in with friends for weeks at a time so I could avoid the searing pain that came from being alone in my room. I have heard people tell me that no one would ever love me as much as they did, in the same day that they slept with another woman in the back of their car. Every time something like this happened, no matter how destroyed I felt by the gravity of the situation, I eventually picked myself up off of the floor. I eventually went to a new boy’s house, slept in his bed, held hands with him while shopping. There was no moment of despair that was too intense to recover from, no point at which I didn’t want to go on. You indulge your moments of sadness, you let it wash over you, and you move on to better things.
There have always been better things.
Now, though, I am alone. I know that my happier ending is somewhere on the horizon, but I am currently too far away from it to see what it looks like. For now, all I have is the hope that this cycle will turn upwards again, just like it always has, and bring me to something that I actually enjoy. Part of me thought that if I ever found myself at the age I am now with no prospects, a history of disappointment, and a fear of rejection — I would quit. I would focus myself on something that could not hurt me in the same way. I would dive into my career, invest in my friends, or simply go to a new country and start everything all over again. It always seemed like it would be scarier to be alone now, or that it would at least crush my spirit, but it hasn’t.
I am still the person I have always been. I don’t just believe in love, I need love. I want it to transport me and thrill me and challenge me the way it always has in its more positive moments. To me, the moment I stop believing in love is the moment that life is no longer worth living. Because each person who has proven to be a source of heartache only has this power over me because they were once so beautifully important to my life. Even though our story may have soured, for at least a moment, it was something that made life feel new and fresh and infinitely possible. I got to know these people when they were at their best — really see them beyond the little piece of them that they let the world look at. Maybe this wasn’t the real them, but they were real to me. We meant something to each other.
My friends call me a hopeless romantic, and I’m pretty sure they think that’s a bad thing. I know that they think I waste my time on bad dates or bad men, but the truth is that I am always looking for what might prove to be the great love of my life. Even if I don’t end up with the person I imagine I should, and even if my life is spent in the wrong person’s arms, it’s better than saying that love isn’t worth the pursuit. I want to catch glimpses of people, and get to know who they are, and care about them enough that they are capable of hurting me. One day, and I believe this with all of my heart, they won’t hurt me. They will become something that lasts forever, which changes all of my perceptions about what is possible and real in this world — and for that, I always have to believe that they are out there.