Sitting amidst the heaps of Miss Vickie’s chips and red wine, it occurred to me that there are some people on this earth who have managed to escape this feeling. The one where you’re convinced you’ve reached the lowest of the low, staring at the screen playing He’s Just Not That Into You through smudged mascara eyes.
Yes, these happy unicorns walk among us. They’re the high school sweet hearts that got it right on the first try, blissfully in love. The college floor-mates that knew right off the bat they were meant to be. The coffee shop barista who spotted the liberal arts major reading and playfully discovered that she liked “On the Road” as much as he did. Coincidentally, these are the same people that run to the rescue when you’re inches away from buying a few cats and living off delivery pizza.
They offer the altruistic notions that “he wasn’t worth it!” and “you’ll find someone some day!” and “love is just around the corner!” that we’ve heard a million times before. And we hate them for it because they’re happy and we’re convinced we aren’t. But honestly, they’re the ones missing out on the most valuable experience – loving someone who doesn’t quite love you back.
There are tons of suitable options. These unlikely prince- and princess- charmings are virtually everywhere. Pick that manic pixie dream girl who has only ever thought of you as a little brother. Or maybe that friend of yours who just got into a brand new relationship; they’ll be so smitten over their new love they won’t even be able to see you obsessing over them across the hall. And probably the best choice of all, pick the mysterious, brooding guy who has no idea what he wants, who he wants, and tells you he’s not looking for anything serious. He’ll be perfect.
This can’t be your average schoolgirl crush. It has to be bold, unedited, unfiltered. You have to throw yourself in and not look back. Do this day after tumultuous day. Write songs about it, write poems about it; the love you never thought you’d find but now you mistakenly have. Dream about the way they look at you, in world where you’re together and they’re just as blindingly in love with you. It’ll almost feel real, until you wake up and realize it isn’t. Your soul will feel broken and ripped apart, but you’ll soon realize it’s not. After all, there’s nothing quite as painfully beautiful as loving someone who doesn’t love you back.
At this point you probably think I’m a masochist for even suggesting a person subject themselves to such unbridled torture. You’re right, this is first class ticket into a pit of despair and pizza. But once you reach it and sink all the way to the bottom, a miraculous thing happens: you realize that ticket wasn’t a one-way and that, just as you can start to love someone, you can eventually stop loving them.
For most, it won’t come fast. It will completely rip you apart, for weeks, months, or even years. You’ll listen to the empty platitudes from those notebook-worthy couples. But finally, you’ll reach your breaking point when you decide you’ve had it. It could be the fifth time they cancel on you. The fourth time they leave your messages unanswered. Or maybe it’s when you find yourself crying in front of the TV watching a cheesy chick flick eating salt and vinegar chips.
And once you get there, the view is spectacular. It’s like you’ve been trapped inside this revolving door of life, with pain at every turn, the world spiraling around you. Sure, when you walk out, you’ll be a little dizzy. But you’ll see that the pain and heartache, it was all temporary. And just as quickly as it comes, it can fade away. Just because one person didn’t love you the way you wanted, doesn’t mean nobody will.
Because the thing is, nobody owes anyone anything. Love can’t be bought or sold or manipulated or convinced. As cheesy as it sounds, it comes from you. Once you walk out of this unrequited battlefield, you’ll understand that the love everyone’s been raving about? It’s been here all along right in front of you. You’ll appreciate the amazing people in your life that you might not have before. You might even have a little more wisdom.
And the best part: you have the satisfaction that you did it all on your own. See, once you are faced with the reality that you can put yourself back together, you won’t be scared to go out and do it again. And again. And again.
Because you know that ultimately, you’ll be okay. And one day, maybe you’ll find someone who falls just as hard as you do. And you’ll be glad that you fell for that person once upon a time who didn’t fall too; if you hadn’t, you’d never have the strength to throw yourself, full force, into the one that really works.