Relationships are hard (said everyone ever). But I think it bears repeating at times. From the 2 week long, casual but passionate flings to the lifelong partners, relationships can be complex, complicated, and confusing. So often, we try to make sense of them, especially when we’re hurting. Questions flood our minds, like “Why is she being so distant?” or “How could he want this to end?”. But every time, we reach a stalemate with our minds because when it comes to matters of the heart, there is no rhyme or reason. We are indeed, at times, drawn to people with shared interests and similar values, but you’ll never be able to break love down and dissect it into pieces or segments, much like you could a puzzle or a math problem. We will never be able to rationalize who we love, exactly why we love them, and, the most painful part of all; why we sometimes have to hurt as a result.
We’ve all been there to some extent. Someone we thought we clicked with on the first date never calls, our significant other of years cheats, or a marriage comes to an end, maybe even without a catastrophic event to attribute it to. The risk of those things, among so many others, will always be there. And, after we experience one or more of them, the doubt and uncertainty from our past can insidiously seep into our present. Fear can so easily muddle the bright picture of the future we all desire to paint with vibrant brushstrokes from the colorful palettes of our imaginations. From the fear of not being good enough, the fear of loss, to maybe the most universal of all: the fear of a broken heart, we get scared. So, we buck up. Maybe we gather every shred of pride we can muster to shield our wounds from the masses, or we try bulldoze the painful memories until we think we can’t feel them anymore, making every effort we can to protect ourselves. It looks different for everyone, but ultimately many times, we pick up the pieces, cloak our hearts in a shield of armor, and try desperately to keep people out.
It would be foolish to say that it’s easy not to put up every line of defense we have when we perceive a threat to one of our most vital organs. On our most basic, instinctual levels, we are not programmed to let something physically hurt us without a fight, or attempted flight, for that matter. We tend to default to that line of thinking when we perceive that heart crushing feeling we’re all too familiar with. Pain is not supposed to be a good thing; it’s supposed to signal to us that there’s a problem that needs to be fixed or resolved. So, we want to pick a fight. We want to run. And sometimes, the desire to avoid the pain is so great, we actively hurt someone else to escape it ourselves. We ascertain that if we can just get away from what’s hurting us, we’ll survive. The problem with that is, while callouses may protect your hands from the jagged edges of the environment, hardening your heart won’t keep the danger out, it will only lock you in.
It can be so easy to blame ourselves when relationships of all sorts don’t last. The what if’s can flood our minds, pierce our hearts, and cloud our vision. “What if I had just tried harder”, “Maybe if I had just given them one more chance”, or possibly the most upsetting, “I’m just too difficult to love”. While it’s natural to make an effort to keep yourself in check and take ownership of mistakes you may have made, the what if’s won’t ever bring the person back, nor will they change the direction they steered you in. The piece of the journey they walked with you may have gone up in flames, and rubble may be the only thing you see in your rear view right now. But, just like the fabled Phoenix always rises from the ashes, beauty will always rise from yours, too.
No matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we push, and no matter how far into ourselves we withdraw, we will never be able to escape the sting of a broken heart. But, regardless of the outcome, when you meet someone with whom your soul connects, no matter where things go past that moment, that’s something that can’t be discounted. When we meet someone who brings a new light to our eyes and ignites a familiar fire in our hearts, who makes us feel as though we are suspended in time, that’s what moves us from simply existing to truly living. The love we each dream of in one way or another, and even admire between others, is rare. So rare, that we will all have to feel heartbreak at some point in the process of trying to find it. And the thing is, the cracks in our hearts from each heartbreak are precisely where what we dream of, and long so hard for, will one day seep in and fill us up until we feel more whole than we ever hoped could be possible.
Every shred of pain, every dagger behind piercing words, and every broken heart has shaped us into the person we are at any given moment. We would not be exactly where we are without the hurt and all that comes along with it. The pain of losing someone we love, discovering that they aren’t truly the person we loved, or even realizing we’re not the person we thought we were, can make us more callous, more fearful, and worst of all, colder. Or it can soften your heart, opening it up to others; to new love. There’s always going to be a risk to putting yourself out there, to making yourself completely raw, nerve ending vulnerable, placing your heart precisely in the hands of another person, protective armor-free. But, it will always be worth it, even when the end of those chapters don’t spell out a happily ever after. The story is never over until we decide that it is, and without the experiences that filled our hearts and brought us to life, we would have no idea what the happily ever after looks like when it takes a seat across the table from us with a warm smile and open heart.
That’s why you should never regret your broken heart. Someone once said, “You’re going to go through a lot of shit. It’s going to hurt, and you will probably want to give up at one point or another. You may even find someone who you think is too good to be true, fall for them, and they will be just that. They will leave you completely and totally dumbfounded, broken, and alone. But it is in that moment that you must remember most not to give up. Just because they chose to leave, cheat, or change, doesn’t make what you felt any less real or any less valid. Sometimes, good things have to fall apart so that better things can fall together. And one day, you’re going to meet someone that makes your heart beat a little bit faster, your skin feel a little bit warmer, and your fears get a little bit dimmer, making every little bit of heartbreak undoubtedly worth the busted up road you stumbled down to find them. This person won’t feel too good to be true, because you will know, deep within your bones, good doesn’t have any limits with them.”
Someone may never call, but forgive them anyway. Timing is a real bitch sometimes. Their life may be chaotic right now, and that says nothing about you, or them for that matter, and it does not make anything you felt less real. Someone may cheat, but forgive them anyway. Their brokenness and the fear behind their actions has no bearing on your worth or the authenticity of the things you felt for them. Someone may leave, voluntarily, or involuntarily, but forgive them anyway. Remember, forgiveness is not an excuse for anyone else’s behavior; it’s a doorway for you to walk through, right into peace and serenity. Without these experiences, you will never open the door to that restaurant, coffee shop, or the local arcade bar where your future is waiting for you. Don’t regret the could have beens, for all they’re doing is leading you right to the one who is everything.