My boyfriend is gone. As the man who defined my last three years makes his exit, I move forward with a combination of fear and hope, loneliness and liberation.
Breakups call one to look back. To learn from the bad, remember regrets aching to be forgotten, and long for the good times lost to memory. So I reflect, trying to make sense out of love. I reflect on all I gave, and therein all I lost. Because I gave too much.
Three years ago, I left my favorite city to be near him. I invested in all of his friendships instead of making my own. I held a steady job below my potential while challenging and supporting him to be better at his every day. I loved his family.
I loved him. In the name of love, or at least what I thought love to be, I lost myself.
My regret is simply that I didn’t leave sooner. Aside from the tearful hormone-ridden fits of puberty, I’d never cried more often or more deeply than I did in this relationship. No, it wasn’t healthy, but I held on because I loved him without loving myself. I’d lost my ability to see beyond him. I’d lost my footing because I was too busy holding him up.
As for the good times, they really were. We laughed at each other’s bad jokes, cuddled after hard days and imagined our future together on starlit beaches the way young love does.
But I don’t dwell on these memories because nostalgia has a way of reframing memory, and I refuse to get lost in longing.
As life beckons me forward, this will be a year of love…the kind of love that grows from the inside out. When I wake, I will love the woman in the mirror. This and only this will allow me to love the people who walk in and out of my days. And when the chill of loneliness sneaks into bed with me at night, love will keep my heart warm and my dreams alive. And this year, they will be my dreams.
By breaking up, I am not running from love. I am running towards it.
I will love every day, because in love all things are possible. This will be a year of great beginnings, and it all starts with me. This is not selfish. This is love.