We will never forget our first breakup. It marks a place on our soul. The first time we feel the agony of rejection, the shock of what we once held so dear, and the crumbling of our foundation out from under us is the day we will no longer be the same.
And yet, we will grow to know that our first breakup will likely not be the most painful. In retrospect, with enough time, we grow from our experience. We will go on to have other relationships before we finally land on the one that makes us see forever.
In my late teens and early twenties, I was in a few serious relationships. I was cheated on quite often. I’d forgive the transgression, desperate for my boyfriend to love me again. He’d leave me anyway. One wanted his promise ring back in order to gift it to the girl he’d cheated on me with and whom was about to leave him. In another relationship, I worked 10 to 12 hours days at a drugstore while he sat at home and played video games. He’d take my paycheck before I could pay most of my bills, forcing me to rely on my mother for help. He knew that since I didn’t have a car or license, I relied on him for transportation. I would eventually leave him.
By this time, I was 23 going on 24. I worked in a call center. There, I met a man who would change my entire life. He encouraged me to finish college. Over the course of the coming years, we’d marry and become parents. In all this joy, there was a dark side. He had an addiction he needed help for. I too was keeping my own secret. Our marriage crumbled as a result.
My secret would shatter everyone’s perception of me. I’d come out as gay. Navigating life after leaving my husband and having a small child to boot was no easy task. Then I met a woman. She had moved from another area of the country, and my small southern state was a culture shock, to say the least. We’d been together for a few years before our final year, in which I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and she suffered her own personal setbacks. We tried to navigate those obstacles, but we eventually brought out the worst of each other.
How does my baring my soul tell a tale of my exes showing me I deserve unconditional, safe, and happy love?
While we struggled with our demons, my son’s father helped me get a car and a license. He wanted me to be independent, never relying on another to get me from point A to point B. He encouraged me to go back to college, instilling in me a confidence in my abilities I carry to this day.
And while my first relationship out of the closet didn’t work out, I was loved. There’s no mistaking that. While it existed in a bubble that would eventually burst, her love for me was what love songs are written about. She took me places, encouraged and often joined in on my photography, and loved my son as if he were her own.
Each relationship ended for a reason, that season in which our lives intertwined having passed.
My son’s dad once brought me roses for Valentine’s Day when there was a snowstorm outside.
My ex-girlfriend once woke me up at 5 a.m. to drive to the beach for the day because I was struggling severely with depression at the time.
Gave me flowers just because.
Always brought me a drink from the kitchen when they got themselves one.
Changed the oil in my car.
Changed the battery in my car.
Taught me to change the oil and battery.
Framed my photography like we lived in a gallery and I was the featured artist.
Allowed my midnight rides when the world and my bipolar disorder became too much.
I could give so many more examples.
The love I’ve had in life is not perfect. In my own search for self-discovery, I hurt them as well. However, the absolute knowledge that I was loved remains with me. Sure, there were breakups. We didn’t work out. It doesn’t take away the love that was bestowed on me. Like the way the pain of our first heartache marks us, so too does love.
I no longer settled.
I knew that with patience, I’d be sent the love I deserve.
Though we didn’t have a fairytale ending, I can’t help but think my exes were like fairy godparents weaving their magic around me.
I met a woman last year. We’ve been together nearly a year.
And I wouldn’t have accepted her grace, kindness, and love without my fairytales of loves past.
To those who came before, I say thank you.