Love is one of the greatest complexities in the world. Its compelling mystery and tempting sensation is something that everyone is searching for in some way, shape, or form. There are thousands of songs, movies, and books, written on the very subject. There are endless elements to it, not one experience is the same, but the one universal and inescapable element of love is getting hurt.
One day you might crash into someone that turns your world upside down. You are completely enamored with this new person as they inch into the nooks and crannies of your life. You start to build a relationship, love them deeply, and willingly hand over your heart on a silver platter. It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. You become vulnerable, and let your walls crumble down in unexpected ways. You would do anything for them and you believe they would do the same for you.
But suddenly, you start to hear a voice in your mind that nudges at you slowly, telling you something isn’t right, but you shoo it away to keep that love feeling around a little longer. A distance may start to grow. You start to see a different side of this person and confusing disagreements start to surface. You can’t remember the last time they gave you a kiss as soon as you woke up like they used to. The playful banter is no longer echoing through the spaces you occupy together. One minute you’re completely in love and before your very eyes, it falls apart.
People will do terrible things to avoid being honest when a relationship starts to get rough. They can go behind your back, cheat, lie, tell you things you want to hear even when they don’t mean them. They might cower behind their own fear of vulnerability, slowly drifting away leaving you in the dark. If you are on the receiving end of such distrustful behavior and get hurt in the process, it’s hard not to become cynical about love.
When you thought you had something so amazing and things didn’t work out in your favor, it breaks this image of what you thought love was supposed to be. It makes you realize the power others can hold over you. How disposable they can make you feel when you never felt that way to begin with. Having certain parts of you shattered. Parts that you didn’t know could be shattered before this person you trusted so much did it for you.
You were once so sure of yourself, confident in the love you shared with this person but your perception was warped. Your judgment feels cloudy and blurry. You start to ask yourself all of these “what, where, when, who, why” questions, and go down the rabbit hole of uncertainty. You become guarded, building a wall around your heart to protect it from any further damage. You start to feel like the risk of getting your heart broken isn’t worth letting anyone else in again.
These feelings are valid and natural. Allow yourself to be angry, to question why people do such hurtful things, to cry it out, to talk to people you trust about what’s going through your mind. It may seem like there’s no end in sight, but I promise you, a bright light is at the end of the tunnel.
The first thing that you need to do is switch the narrative. There is so much more to ‘love’ than what you share with a romantic partner. It’s the love you have for yourself and who you truly are as an individual. The love you have for your community, friends, family, hobbies, aspirations. You start to re-expand your identity again. You know that you have so much passion, kindness, and empathy just stirring inside, waiting to share it with the world. Refocus those qualities into other parts of your life that you may have neglected when you were investing them on someone who didn’t deserve them in the first place.
Igniting this process after a traumatic experience is difficult, but when you get the spark lit, you’ll be surprised how naturally everything comes back to you: trust, hope, strength, and fearlessness. When you start to remove the self-inflicted pain from a situation that was out of your control, you remember how non-disposable you are. You reunite with yourself, jumping back into your own arms inviting new kinds of love back in.
Maybe that person hurt you, but they are in the past now, and the future holds so many more opportunities outside of the reality you once lived in. People will come and go, but your soul is constant. Resist the urge to build a wall around it because you never know who may come along that is truly deserving of its presence. Chip away at the cynicism and be brave enough to understand that not every person you let in is going to hurt you. You owe it to yourself to leave your heart open because you deserve to be loved. If you work on truly loving yourself first, you will attract the same energy and it will all make sense again.
Remember that you are irreplaceable and one of a kind. You bring uniqueness to the world. You are capable, strong, and resilient. Being hurt is an inevitability of experiencing love, but it doesn’t define you. What you can control is how you define yourself. Let the hurt be the fuel to your healing. Let the lessons define a renewed sense of hope that will carry you forward into a better opportunity with someone who will appreciate you for all that you are. Once you practice and internalize these affirmations, the cynicism will begin to fade and the walls will crumble. You’ll have faith in love again because you see that you have carried it within you all along.