In the last month, I have grown more than I have in the last 24 years of my life. In the last month I have been faced with a depth of pain that will take a lifetime to heal. In the last month, I have changed the core of who I am, who I was, and who I want to be.
Overnight, without any warning, love changed me.
My values, my happiness, and my foundation were all rocked and shaken down to their most vulnerable state when I discovered that I had been cheated on. After endless nights of crying and puffy-eyed mornings, I finally gained the strength to get out of the only place in this world I felt safe – my bed. Days went by without the slightest desire to look at myself in the mirror. Brushing my teeth meant my back to the sink, and showering was done with the lights off. Weeks went by where I lived in a fake reality my mind made up just so I could fall asleep at night.
In all of the heartache and pain, the most difficult thing to come to terms with was not hearing the words, “Cheating on you made me have this newfound appreciation for you,” but rather that it took being cheated on to have a newfound appreciation for myself.
Replaying the last six years of my life, when I unknowingly came face-to-face with love and welcomed it with a firm handshake and a smile, I finally realize my biggest mistake. Since the day I fell in love, I have been trying to build a home in the heart of another instead of building it in my own. I foolishly believed that to love someone meant to give them your everything — at whatever the lengths, at whatever the costs. And so I gave my love away at whatever the cost.
Wearing my heart on my sleeve, blinded by love, I threw myself at it. And as I did, I continued to try to build my home in his heart. In a heart that I would later come to understand that it was not big enough for two. A heart that was not ready to love someone like me with the same depth of love I craved in return. A heart that had its own healing it needed to do. Naively ignoring the red flags, I continued to give all of my love until I poured myself empty. I tried to break down his walls and push through his boundaries. But as I did I found myself distanced further and further away from him. The more I loved him, the further it pushed him away. The higher his walls grew, the weaker I became. But I continued to love him anyway, because I thought he needed me as much as I needed him. I thought I could build a home in the warmth of his hands and in the protection of his promises.
Heartbreak has taught me that sometimes people make promises they don’t keep. Sometimes love isn’t as clear for one as it can be for the other. Sometimes we end up losing ourselves in the process of falling in love with another. Healing has taught me that although all forms of love are important, there will never be anything more important than self-love.
Loving yourself will never be easy, because it will never come naturally. We shower strangers with love yet reflect distaste onto ourselves. We accept the flaws of our lovers but refuse to accept even the smallest flaws of our own. We try to fill that void with someone else’s love, desires and ambitions. And only until they no longer are around, until our home in them is no longer a place of solitude and comfort, do we realize the importance of self-love and self-appreciation.
It is difficult to overcome the feeling of being homesick when I have built a home in the heart of someone else – someone that is no longer with me. The idea of a future with someone brings clarity to my mind and steadies the chaos in my heart. But it’s time I become my own calm to the chaos of the world. It’s time I build a home in my own heart. This will not be an easy process. There will be days the world will show me ways to bring myself down much faster than it took to build myself up. I can no longer let this stop me. I need to learn to take my own advice, instead of just provide it. I need to learn how to embrace my own flaws instead of hiding them.
In the midst of all this mess, I will grow. And I will change. But changing doesn’t mean I must harden. Changing doesn’t mean I must stop loving. And to love one doesn’t mean I can no longer love myself. I must learn to take time to celebrate the best parts of me, but also cradle the soft parts of me too. Because people tell us that only the strong survive, but in this crazy unpredictable world, the soft survive too.
So this is for the ones who have followed in my footsteps, for the ones who have loved far too much and have been loved far too little, for the ones who have loved another before first loving themselves, for the ones who have lost themselves while trying to fix another. This is for the ones who have built their home in the heart of another: know you will survive it. Know you will survive the heartache by building a home in you.