We tend to think of the one who does the breaking up as the one with all the power, the one who solely and completely possesses the ability to steer the course of a relationship in whichever direction they see fit, despite the feelings of the other person. When my ex blindsided me on our anniversary (which also happened to be my birthday), the dynamic of our relationship completely shifted in my eyes, and so did my perception of him.
Overnight, my once partner in crime became a stranger that I felt compelled to ingratiate myself with in order to return to our status as a couple. And then there was the shame. Shame that I had opened myself up so completely to a person who had betrayed the future we had begun to plan for together with the ease of ordering food from a McDonald’s drive-thru.
And shame that I was the one being broken up with-last time I checked, he was the one who was lucky to have me, right?? Even he had admitted this much on multiple occasions. I found myself suddenly wishing that I had never allowed myself to give this guy a chance, wishing that I had never told him I loved him, and most of all, wishing that I had never given myself so completely to someone who allowed our relationship to be governed by whim above all else.
It’s been just over a year since that day, and here’s what I know now. I know that real love is something you have to fight for. It’s a choice, and one that successful couples make every day. Those magical butterflies from the honeymoon phase? They don’t last. So if you decide to re-evaluate your relationships as soon as that I-can’t-get-enough-of-you phase ends, you’re on the fast track to lots of relationships, but not a true life partner.
I also know now that being emotionally vulnerable in your relationships, although it often may feel like a burden when you’re left reeling from yet another break-up, is actually something to be proud of. Sure, it’s scary as hell, and you’re bound to encounter at least one person who can’t reciprocate the deep emotional connection you feel with them.
It takes forcing yourself to maintain that shred of hope that things can be better again even though your whole world is consumed by darkness. It means understanding that giving your heart to someone who can’t return the sentiment doesn’t mean that you’ll never find someone who will.
I used to feel sorry for myself, for the emotions that I’m unable to stifle. Now I feel sorry for my ex and people like him who are too scared to open themselves up to all that life has to offer. Because, if you don’t allow yourself to truly invest in life and in people in an emotionally deep way, how will you ever forge a forever connection that’s based on more than superficial and fleeting sensations?