That’s the Italian word for turkey.
It’s the word he would have taught my family when we were together at the Christmas table, an ensemble made for a picture book. In my imagination, he was such a perfect addition to our little group, dotted with faces smiling at the warmth of our togetherness we only conjured once a year.
He was tall and sweet and curly-haired. I loved him from the moment I saw him.
I think I drove for three straight hours the night I knew that we were over.
The pain of a photograph, of him with someone else, drove me to insomnia.
There was a time when both our dreams of a future aligned, but things got tough, we separated, and my stubborn little heart remained. It was no fault of his. I lacked the experience to be able to move on. However, in doing so, I only increasingly injured my pride, my power, and my heart.
My silly little self made every mistake in the book—calling months after we were broken up, getting upset when he was with someone else. It grew into an obsession. I’m not proud of myself for not having the strength inside to simply let him go, but I just couldn’t understand.
After all this time, after all our love, for it suddenly to go up in smoke—for what I thought could eternally be mended to turn out to be something that this man I loved so dearly didn’t want—devastated me. I decided inwardly that it was all my fault. I was too mental, too crazy. I pushed him away with my neediness. I was too much to be loveable.
All of this could very well be true. Granted, I had never been so in love before. I didn’t know how to “keep it casual” or “still be friends” after something so intense and passionate.
However, if you are in a similar situation, if I can use this story to be of any use to you, here is my most important piece of advice: Walk away.
Let it all go. Keep your pride, if you can. I deprived myself of this luxury.
When I finally got his subliminal message—that “we” would not be resurrected—something shifted internally within me. I was given clarity.
With that clarity, I gave myself—and him—the gift of finally releasing us.
There are many patterns of behavior I exhibited within the confines of this relationship (more specifically, after the breakup) that I look back on in shame. However, shame is not a constructive emotion. As Brene Brown so aptly put it, “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”
In order to heal from the mess within my heart, I had to heal the wound of abandonment he triggered within me. I had to look at myself, acknowledge that the way I acted after our breakup was not okay, and find the tools with which to equip myself so as to prevent this from happening again.
I promised myself that I would be clearer. I would be smarter. I would be more accountable.
Most importantly, I promised myself that I would try again.
Contrary to a lot of perspectives you might read about unrequited love, I want you to remember that no one in this world owes you anything. Sometimes people just outgrow certain situations, as painful as that can be, but the saying that we come into this world alone and we die alone is true.
You owe yourself the ability to look back on your life and see that you handled things maturely, or at least you tried. And if you didn’t succeed, at least you learned from those experiences as well.
Lastly, I must stress the importance of forgiveness. Forgiving yourself for your misgivings is essential. We all make mistakes. Sometimes royally big ones. In time, if you are able to forgive the one who hurt you, I also recommend that. It will free up space in your heart to let something better in and you will feel lighter. It’s a win-win.
None of us are perfect. None of us get things right the first time. However, most people do not have the intention of hurting you. Life just happens.
Give yourself the grace to acknowledge how much it hurts and be grateful. Be grateful it hurts that much. You know why?
Because that means you loved just as hard as you’re hurting right now. And if you weren’t really in love, then what’s the point?
You’re doing great. You’ve been alright, and you are alright, and you’ll be alright.
Let go of that shame and move forward. You did nothing wrong. You’re enough. You’re loved. You’ll love again.
Unrequited love happens to the very best of us.
I’m right here, cheering you on.