We hugged and I held back the tears that were trying to escape my eyes. Our final goodbye took the form of, “You take care of yourself, okay?” We walked away from each other knowing that it was the best for both of us.
But does that mean it was easy? Less painful? Would the thoughts of you, our planned futures, and all the endless what if scenarios suddenly disappear from the deepest parts of my heart? Does the mutual decision of a breakup ever make the hardest decision feel easier? I wish it did. However, I think about that line everyone says: “The best things in life don’t come easy.” It’s true; the better future, the happier and healthier relationship, won’t just happen. We all must go through some rough patches, some restarts, and some growing till we get to the best parts.
In the first few weeks after a breakup, hopelessness will take center stage. Not even the job you love or your supportive circle of friends can get you out of this mindset. You’ll feel trapped and can’t breathe. You feel cheated on by life. Why in the world did it let you meet a person who meant a great deal and was a big part of your life, only to take that person away, never to be seen again?
Let’s face it, most exes can’t be friends. Believe me, I learned that the hard way. Don’t drag yourself through that. You will learn to be polite and civil later down the road. Or if you’re me, you understand how the distance and the quiet is the most kindness you can give to each other. So you’ll forever be apart, but you’ll always hold this small, tucked away, special place in your heart for them. This exists not because you’re still holding out hope to be with them or because you still have lingering feelings, but because of who you are now and what you used to mean to each other. You become the person you are now from all the connections and experiences that happen to you as you walk along your path. As a person who has known happiness, you will also learn what gratitude looks like. Happiness makes you a grateful person for the small and big things, and even for all the struggles.
It will take a while to get to a place where you are finally content again, hopeful, appreciative, and genuinely happy. It will take self-love and consciously choosing yourself, especially on the hard days — when a song suddenly plays and it reminds you of that person, when a memory of the both of you unconsciously comes up, when you’re so stressed at work and all you could think about was how you used to run to them right away, when you abuse yourself with thoughts of “I’m being left behind” or “I wasn’t good enough.” In these moments of extreme vulnerability and weakness, please choose not to drink, party, sleep around, or bury your emotions by a temporary high. Instead, fight hard to be kind and to love yourself.
When you choose yourself, you come to realize that, first and foremost, you only have yourself. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, you should always come first. When you take care of yourself, that’s when you’ll be able to go on new adventures again and go after your dreams with the same passion and confidence you used to have. More importantly, you’ll be open to making new, meaningful relationships again. You won’t feel the same emotions when their name pops up or when you suddenly think of them.
I think the people that used to occupy the big parts of our heart never really leave us, and that’s okay. And it’s in that moment that you will come to understand that the point wasn’t to try to forget but to let time run its course. Let time subside your feelings of hopelessness and heartbreak, and let it teach you to choose yourself. Then you will find that closure and peace to start again.