“I think I’ve been avoiding getting involved with anyone because I’m just so scared of getting hurt.”
I was sitting with one of my best friends, Heather, on her living room floor when those words escaped from my lips. I was surprised when I heard myself say it. It sounded so goddamn cliche, so trite. But, of course, it was true. I was dodging each and every romantic situation I came across because I was convinced heartbreak would follow.
And man, was I good at it! I claimed I just needed to work on myself, as though self-improvement and self-love were only accomplished in one’s solitary, unachievable if you had support along the way. But, what I was really doing was building walls, laying a foundation that screamed “STAY AWAY,” brick by brick.
I had tested strategies in place too, such as skillful self sabotage that let me choose when and how it ended, or avoidance that made it certain that no one could ever get too close. I put all of these measures in place to ensure my heart stayed intact, but here’s the kicker: I was still hurting. And, when I finally said the words aloud to Heather that night, all that pain was realized.
We sat silently for a bit, letting myself come to terms with it all. Finally, Heather smiled and said:
“Go get your heart broken. You get better at fixing it every time.”
And it was at that moment I knew that was what I needed to do. I had to go risk getting my heart broken.
Because here’s the truth: you will do far more damage by keeping your heart locked away than by putting it out there and asking to be loved or to love. Our hearts were made to be resilient. They were made to expand and contract and to love and hurt. And so, the longer you keep your heart tucked away is more time spent denying yourself the experiences needed to learn how to put yourself back together. You’ll start to recognize which pieces go where, which parts need a little extra attention and which ones tend to heal better when they are simply let be.
So go sit through a lot of crappy dates with those who aren’t a good match for you. People who bore you, or turn out to be real jerks. Ghosts. And realize this is not wasted time, but all part of learning how to put your heart back together, lessons in dealing with disappointments and rejections.
And also find someone you really see potential in, a future with. This someone will have values that align with your own, who keeps you laughing till two o’clock in the morning. The person who takes care of you when you’re sick and accompanies you to shitty work functions to make them less shitty, who watches hungover Netflix with you on Saturday morning.
And when you find this person, do everything right. Commit to each other and hope for the best. Fall in love with them. Accompany them to shitty work functions and keep them laughing till 2AM. Bring them soup when they’re sick and be a shoulder to cry on when they need to. Know how good love can be and be so grateful you found them.
And then acknowledge it could end.
This person could very well break your heart. Life can get in the way of love, and sometimes it is then no longer enough. People change. You change. Jobs change. Shit happens. This is a fact. And this is also okay.
Don’t let the chance of something beautiful ending prevent you from trying at all. Because it could work out. If you never took the risk in the first place, how could you know? And if it doesn’t? It’s going to hurt like hell. But you’ll put yourself and your heart back together. After all, you’ve done so before. Who says you can’t do it again? So go get your heart broken.
You’ll get better at fixing it every time.