Breakups never fail to raise questions.
Especially the breakups we did not plan.
The people we loved who walked away. The ones who disappeared when we desperately wanted them to stay.
And it’s easy to question our shortcomings in those situations. To endlessly ask ourselves what we did wrong. What we could have changed about our actions. What we’re left to alter within ourselves.
These questions arise simply and naturally. But when we ask ourselves what we could have done to make them stay, we are asking ourselves the wrong questions.
Because pain always has something to teach us. Often, something direly important.
Wanting pretty much anything desperately reveals a great deal about who we are. And the exquisite torture of someone’s absence never fails to reveal the harshest truths about ourselves.
It shows us what we can’t get by without. It shows us the ways in which we still are not enough for ourselves.
The truth about heartbreak is that it’s so damn painful not because we miss the other person so badly, but because their absence reveals the harshest truths about us to ourselves.
When we’re with someone who is strong in all the areas we’re weak, we relax into that balance. We let them pick up some slack for the people we are not – whether we notice ourselves doing it or not.
We let their tenderness balance out the ways in which we’re hard on ourselves. We let their optimism leverage our cynicism; allow their spontaneity to challenge our rigidity.
When we’re with someone who provides a crucial trait that we ourselves are lacking, having them leave feels unbearable. Because without them, we’re forced to confront all of the ways in which we do not feel like enough on our own.
But their absence also provides us with an incredible opportunity – the opportunity to grow into the space that they have carved out inside of us.
Because whatever we miss most about a person who has left us is almost always the thing that we need to cultivate inside of ourselves.
The kindness they showed us is the kindness we must learn to show ourselves. The strength that they harnessed is the strength we need to build up on our own. The compassion they share with us is the compassion we must learn to practice, and the emptiness they leave behind is the void that we have to learn to fill without them.
Contrary to popular belief, the cure for heartbreak isn’t replacement. It is growth.
It’s the ability to step back from our sadness and understand its origins. To decipher precisely where it stems from. And then to learn how to incorporate whatever we’re lacking into our day-to-day lives.
Because as much as we can miss a person – as much as we can ache and mourn their absence – we will never miss anyone as much as we miss the versions of ourselves that we became alongside them.
The ways in which they made us feel worthy. The insecurities they made us forget. The wounds we buried deep down inside of us, which their presence pasted temporary Band-Aids on.
And as much as their absence may ache, perhaps the silver lining is this – it opens us up to the opportunity to understand what exactly it is within ourselves that we still need to work on growing into.
Because when someone leaves, they leave a void behind.
And we are left with two simple choices: To fill that void with somebody new, or to rise to the challenge of filling it up ourselves.
The former may feel like the easier move. But the latter will be infinitely more rewarding.
Because at the end of the day, the most rewarding person you will ever get together with after a breakup is yourself.