Don’t Think You’re Irreplaceable

Of course, that’s not the whole line. If you’ve ever listened to Beyoncé, it goes more like “Don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable.” And for the first time in a really long while, I finally believe it.

The jilted ex and hopeless romantic in me joined forces once and had me considering the possibility that someday, it will all work out between us. Because no one could replace him and no one could replace me. We were always meant to be together. Boy, I must have been out of my mind. Actually, I probably really was.

I felt like I couldn’t replace him because I always felt like I was lucky to have him. Not just in the “Lucky-I’m-In-Love-With-My-Best-Friend” kind of way, but in the “Lucky-I-Landed-A-Heartthrob” way. He was out of my league, and I should never forget it. He would always be the best I could ever have. It was also hard to believe anyone would ever love me again, flaws and all. I didn’t want to invest in getting to know someone new and letting them get to know me, because what if they couldn’t take my imperfections, or did but still left me anyway? Could I really handle another rejection? Why would I have the right to think as though I deserved anyone else? After all, I was so replaceable.

And for a while, I really believed all that. Over time, my self-esteem and my thoughts became more and more negative. But I guess, like a lot of situations, illnesses, raging storms… It has to get worse before it gets better. And eventually, I had my long-overdue epiphany.

Two days ago the infamous ex came over to my house. He was initially going to bring the new girl with him (TIP: Maybe it varies from one dumped individual to another, but personally, I believe you can’t bring the girl you cheated with to the house of the girl you cheated on), had I not made it clear she was unwelcome. I wasn’t even trying to be bitter or dramatic; I simply knew I didn’t deserve such a scenario. His reason for coming over was so he could return all the things I’d ever given him or left at his house, and so he could get back all his remaining things with me. I know this usually happens earlier on in the break-up process, but it had no chance to for us because we had no contact for a year. After the break-up, he originally wanted to stay “best friends” so he could help me recover, but I refused. The person who broke my heart will probably not be the same person who can put it back together again. And I stayed away.

While I was waiting for him, several scenarios danced in my head and what felt like a million butterflies kept flying around, not only in my stomach, but seemingly in my entire being. Contrasting emotions rushed through my head and my heart like a raging river flowing with my bloodstream.

So there he was, on my doorstep. He still had the same car, one we had so many memories with. He looked exactly the same as he did the last time I saw him, wearing jeans that I knew so well, and a shirt that was probably brand new. It was the first time I laid eyes on him in over a year. I was surprised by how completely negatively I regarded myself all of a sudden, a sense of self-inadequacy that washed through me and threatened to consume me. But that wave dissipated as quickly as it came. And I was blindsided.

Because of all the things I thought and I felt earlier on, what happened next was something I did not expect. I felt nothing. Like a wall now existed between us, and in a way, maybe it did. In the few minutes that we were together that night, I realized he no longer affected me the way he used to, the way I thought he still did. And I knew in that second that he no longer had my heart.

It was as if I’d stepped out of my body and watched from a distance. I could now see things I couldn’t before. I could finally understand.

In that moment of clarity, I realized that I felt like I didn’t deserve him, like I couldn’t replace him, like he was out of my league… Because he was the one who always made me feel that way. He kept a tight leash on my confidence in myself, and it was the time and distance away from him that broke his hold on me—maybe I just had to see him again to realize that I deserved better than this. Even during this brief visit, I could feel how highly he thought of himself and how lowly he thought of me. Asking to bring the new girl wasn’t an innocent query: it was his way of reminding me how replaceable I was.

When he left that night, he took with him all the pain, the anger and the resentment I had been carrying since we broke up. And he gave me back what I didn’t realize he took from me in the first place: my sense of self-worth. I felt like I could really breathe again.

Yes, I am replaceable. I am an ordinary girl who can love and care for someone with all my heart, but I can also get jealous and I have my petty moments. I am replaceable, and now I know he is, too.

He is replaceable. He is an ordinary boy who can love and care for someone with all his heart, but he can just as easily hurt the one he loves. Like everyone in this world. We are replaceable for each other because maybe we weren’t even supposed to end up together; just a lesson we were both meant to learn. A memory we were meant to cherish, but eventually set free.

I am replaceable with a girl who has the same dreams as he, a girl who can teach him all that I could not. And he is replaceable with a man who can treat me better, who can love me the way I deserve to be loved.

Exes are meant to be a lesson, in one way or another. And they are always, always replaceable. Maybe not right away or maybe even not by another person. They can be replaced with the freedom to truly follow your dreams without reservations for the feelings of a significant other. They can be replaced by a renewed sense of self-respect. They can be replaced with the art of learning to love yourself.

After all this time, I can finally believe that I really do deserve better. And so, my inner diva would now like to make its first (and last) appearance. In the words (if not the tone, the face and the body of Beyoncé): “Don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Sometimes, I soar. Sometimes, I tumble. But most times, I free-wheel.

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