I spent a year after my last breakup picking up the pieces of myself and trying to piece it back together.
First loves can be the hardest, because it’s the first time you let your inhibitions go and truly allow yourself to love someone else. You let another person become an enormous part of your life; and you show them your flaws, your fears, your hopes and your aspirations. If you’re young- and mine was my childhood sweetheart- you’ll change together, explore each other and grow together. You become inexplicable parts of each other’s lives, but you haven’t lost your childlike naivety, nor have you learnt to be guarded. Sometimes, they become such a large part of your life that losing them is almost like losing a part of yourself.
I spent months pouring over the broken pieces of my relationship, trying to make sense of the wreckage in front of me and fit it together like a puzzle pieces. I wanted to know why it didn’t work and what was wrong with me. The thought haunted me for months that he was perfect so the problem had to lie with me. I sat there examining the pieces, hoping that understanding it would piece it back together. I know now that some things can never be fixed, and sometimes, people just grow apart and they aren’t meant to be together.
First loves are often romanticized. They are innocent and child-like, where we first flirt with the notion of romantic love. We enact what we see in the media and in our own lives. Our hearts flutter when we first brush hands with each other, and we walk on air when we get our first kiss.
We leap into the abyss of love and have no notion of fear of the danger of not being caught. A wise man once gave the analogy that falling in love is like riding a bike. You see, him and his wife saw a couple cycling and holding hands. He commented that it was dangerous. She replied that “they are in love, and love is dangerous”. While there is truth in that sentence, this man used the analogy that love is as dangerous as speed. Speed doesn’t kill, but it’s the sudden deceleration that does. There’s nothing wrong with falling in love. No, falling in love is a wonderful feeling, we get the warm fuzzy feeling, and it makes us happy and giddy, what could be so wrong about that? It’s falling out of love that’s dangerous.
I flipped my bike over when I was twelve. I had sped down a steep hill and hit a bump, which led to me being flung over the handlebars. I recovered fairly quickly, but I retained an irrational fear of bikes. The next time I got on a bike was nearly seven years later, when my (now ex) boyfriend and I had decided to bike down a fairly steep mountain. Brilliant, I know. I mustered up all the courage I had and clutched the brake until my knuckles turned white whilst trembling with fear. Eventually, I got the hang of it again and gradually increased my speed, at a rather alarming rate. In the distance, I had seen my boyfriend and raced after him. There was a fairly steep turn and I rounded that one, only to be greeted by another steep turn. If I had gone straight, I would have ridden clean off the mountain. To preserve my fragile life, I took a hard left, which resulted in my bike and myself separately skidding across the gravel, wiping the skin clean off my calves and my thigh. Blood oozed out, pouring crimson red from my legs, speckled with the white of my flesh and gravel. It took over a month to heal, but it was only a surface wound and to find it, I have to thoroughly hunt for any permanent markings on my leg.
The first time I flipped over my bike is similar to my first love. It caused an excessive amount of fear and doubt, and resulted in me staying away from the bike as I did from any kind of emotion for anyone. I was so afraid of getting hurt that I would flee before there was any real change of that. My only concern was to protect my heart at all costs. Getting on my bike the second time is similar to falling in love the second time. Knowing all the risks involved, you rid yourself of your fears and just let your gut feeling take over.
Our first love is always bittersweet. And while there is a lot to be said about our first loves, there is something just as beautiful about falling in love again. The second time we fall in love, we are well aware of the risk and we have our scars as a constant reminder of our wounds, and yet we make a conscious decision to fall anyway. We put aside our incessant fears and qualms, and let our feelings take over. We let the cold sting of the wind kiss our face, and the adrenaline rush as we push into the pedals faster, and against our mind screaming warnings at us to protect ourselves, we let our heart and our gut take over.
As beautiful or as real as your first love is, and how nostalgic is makes you, there is something just as beautiful about the person who coaxes you out of the shell of protection that you have buried yourself in and makes you feel safe again in this unsafe and crazy world. There is something just as beautiful about the way a person who can make you believe in love again, and there is something so special about the person who teaches you how to love again.
Every love is different, but every love is beautiful and sweet, even if it is just teaching you how to love again. Remember your first love fondly, but thank the person in your life that is special enough to teach you to love again.