“When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.” – Liz Gilbert
I remember my first break up so vividly that I cringe thinking about it. I was head over heels in love with someone who had mutual feelings for me. The relationship lasted for about a year during my junior year of high school. That horrific age of 16 was upon me. This was the age for me that I started getting insight into who I was, that my parents were real people with flaws, my hopes, my dreams, and understanding the concept of love for the first time. This is such a tough age for most women I talk to. We all think about to the age 16 with such fondness but also grief because of the heartache encompassed during that time.
While I was still in high school, he was starting his first year of college. There was some distance between us for most of our relationship, but it wasn’t unmanageable. About 45 minutes away from one another. This was that pivotal roller coaster relationship for me. Spent as much time together as possible, a ton of petty fights, too many inside jokes, and lots of passion. This was my first relationship that I opened myself up enough to let the other person see the dark pieces of me. I allowed him to see the pain from family drug and alcohol addiction that stole my childhood and shaped my life. This relationship was as much immature as it was deep. Hence the word ‘roller coaster.’
I lost my balance during this year and the couple to follow. I had left a bad home situation to find myself in another not so ideal situation with the other side of my family. I had put so much of my energy into this relationship to compensate for what was lacking in other areas. I let others validate and define who I was as a person. Then, when it all crumbled down – I lost it. I had no sense of identity. I let this person, my family, and friends fill me up so much that I forgot to fill myself up.
My life choices started to not reflect who I knew I was on the inside. I was out drinking all the time, trying to find people to bring me out of my misery. My soul felt lost. My relationships with my friends (or who I thought were my friends) felt superficial, at the surface. I was always surrounded by people, but why did I still feel so alone? I had put so much effort into finding someone to love me that I forgot the most important thing was to love myself first.
While this devastating loss brought me to a breaking point (more to come on this later); it was at that point that I realized the most about myself, too. I realized I could not continue to blame my parents or relationships for my short comings. I was no longer a child, I was on my way to adulthood – I needed to own my shit. I needed to own the fact that I had made mistakes in that relationship with him, co-dependency issues, anxiety, and at the time, depression.
At the time, I was furious with him – at the fact that the person who I childishly thought I would spend forever with, would end up leaving my side. I felt abandoned and back then, rightfully so. However, I look back on that season of life feeling thankful. Thankful he left and forced me to stand on my own two feet. Thankful that I was able to learn more about the dynamic of my family relationships through the loss of him. Thankful for who I was. I learned to appreciate myself rather than always expecting someone to appreciate me. Don’t get me wrong, this is something I am striving and working toward every day. I’m just so happy and grateful that I was able to work through some of this. Some people may read this and think I am being too introspective, but I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. He may not see any significance in our relationship as teenagers and that’s okay. This is my story, not his.
I’ve definitely tumbled as I worked through this. I had plenty of other bad encounters with men, relationships, and lack of. As well as great encounters as well. And I know I will continue to. The best lesson I learned from that initial heartbreak is to ensure I stay true to myself within a relationship. Its very easy to get absorbed into someone else’s world and lose your own. When I love you, I am in it 100% with the utmost loyalty. There is nothing wrong with this. Its just that I must remain true to my identity and soul. Its okay to love someone you do not share every ideology, hobby, and interest with. Its important to compromise when necessary, to try things the other enjoys, broaden your horizons. Just remember, You cannot fill from an empty cup.
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