I was once several years younger and significantly more naive than the woman I am today. I was once 16 and in love, or at least I thought that I was, and I wound up wounded, scarred, and entirely heartbroken. Haven’t we all?
Allowing yourself to not only feel the love of another human being, but give out this love yourself, is arguably the most vulnerable position any human being can willingly put themselves in. Love is… scary. It’s risky. Unknown. Unpredictable. And it’s not until we’re truly burned that we realize how fragile our steady, beating hearts can be. It’s effortless, our heartbeats. Have you ever taken even a few moments time out of your day to sit there and appreciate your heart beating? To really zone in on the consistent thumping inside your own chest — the sound and feeling we’ve become so accustomed to, so unappreciative of. Our hearts just beat — we don’t even have to think about it.
But then we find ourselves young, in love, and suddenly alone. Forgotten about. Cheated on. Kicked to the curb. And suddenly, we notice that beating muscle in our chest cavity. Suddenly, we realize just how much that thumping can hurt. Suddenly, we become acutely aware of just how painful a heart beat can be. We feel a tear, just a little bit deeper, with each familiar thump. We feel a pang. We feel pain, where we used to feel nothing at all.
I learned a lot from failed relationships, from heartbreak. I have yet to engage in a healthy relationship that has ended in anything but. However, I’ve learned to take notes. To appreciate that little thump in my chest.
Some relationships have been better than others — more positive, healthier, filled with less dark, twisty turns. But we all have that relationship. That person. That one experience in which we wholeheartedly pour our heart and soul into someone, someone who never really has any true potential, someone who was never truly available in the first place.
This person brought me nothing but darkness. Nothing but disappointment, disillusionment, and distrust. And I grew bitter. With each painstakingly labored heartbeat, my anger rose. Why, I wondered, why start something that you have no intentions of finishing? Why toy with another humans heart? For you must know how fragile of an organ it can be — you just know, for we’ve all been burned.
I spent months in wonder. Turning familiar thoughts and questions over in my head as I harbored feelings of resentment and cynicism. But eventually, it clicked. Eventually, I understood.
I’ll never understand why things happened the way that they did — why things came to that drastic and fatal halt. I’ll never make sense of his words or his actions. But what I do understand, what I did finally learn, is that he bestowed upon me a gift.
In those months of darkness, when I was arguably at my weakest, I rose stronger. I learned to appreciate silence. To spend time inside of my own head and question things that mattered. I learned how to occupy my time. I learned how to pick myself up from the floor. I learned how to drink an entire bottle of wine, and I learned how to put the glass of wine down. I learned how to stand up for myself. I learned how to be independent.
I learned how to go for something. Wholeheartedly. I learned how to try. And more importantly, I learned how to fail. But I learned how to live my life without regrets, how to leave everything on the table. I learned that I’ll fall flat on my face a time or six before anything works out in my favor. I learned how to take a leap of faith. And I learned how to fall — how to fall graciously. I learned that love is more than just a word. I learned the importance of time. I learned so very, very much.
I was given arguably nothing but darkness when all was said and done. Nothing but empty promises and betrayal. But I was also given the opportunity to rise. To pick myself up. I was given the opportunity to depend on nothing but myself. I was given the opportunity to experience heartbreak in it’s purest form, and I was given the opportunity to mend my own heart back together.
I was given the gift of solitude, the gift of heartbreak, and the gift of pain. It didn’t feel like a gift at the time, but looking back, I’m thankful for it. For it all. Maybe I’m even thankful that he entered my life.
Because life happens. People burn you. You keep lighting matches anyway.