Don’t Let Heartbreak Screw You Up

(Like the blog title, get it??)

It’s been about a year since I was deeply in love with someone. It’s weird to realize it’s actually been that long, considering how much time I used to spend pining over people and getting in and out of relationships every few months.

I think most people who knew me well knew that I was a hopeless romantic (note that I use “knew” in the past tense, because of the intense personal change I’ve recently undergone). I love love so much.

But lately, love scares the absolute shit out of me. I can pinpoint specifically when the worst moments of my life were, and almost every one of them (aside from bouts of menstrual cramps)  has dealt with heartbreak. I’m not in a relationship right now, so obviously none of my relationships turned out well.

Sometimes I feel hopeless.  I watch romantic movies now through the eyes of a skeptic and scoff at how unrealistic it is. As if anyone could promise to be together forever and actually go through with it! I watched Like Crazy today and was actually satisfied with how realistic the ending was (spoiler alert: the couple realizes at the end that they’re only in love with the memory of the early stage of their relationship).

Over and over I feel like the real world is trying to tell me that my romantic idealism is shit. I’ve taken chances on love too many times, seen my parents get divorced, seen my grandparents get divorced, and see almost every couple I love split up.  I’m growing to believe that love doesn’t work. It didn’t last for anyone else, it never lasted for me, and maybe it never will.

But maybe the breakup statistics aren’t proof that love doesn’t work. Maybe it means that love isn’t what I used to think it meant. I used to believe in love at first sight. In my deepest relationship, we clicked instantly over our favorite TV shows, taste in music, and movies. We told each other “I love you” our first week into it. He told me he wanted to marry me after we had been together for a month. We wrote each other love letters every single day for months while he was in basic training for the Army. It was a fucking epic love story.

Except maybe it wasn’t. The whole time, I focused so much on our love story that I didn’t acknowledge the real, ugly pages we tore out of the book and pretended not to read. I’m not saying that what we had meant nothing to me, but maybe the first try or the most seemingly romantic love story isn’t what true love is.

I look at my parents now, as someone who’s undergone heartbreak and (hopefully) has a better idea of what love is. I see them express their love for each other daily, in the little things they do for each other and for our family. I’m growing to learn that love isn’t two 18 year olds who desperately need each other’s love to survive. Love is two separate, fully grown people who love themselves wholly, and get together with another fully grown person, who doesn’t need anyone to complete them.

Maybe my first few shots at love didn’t work, but I realize now that it isn’t that I’m this horrible person who nobody could ever love. I know now that I’m not ready for real, whole love. I’m probably 75% of a fully developed person (probably even less), and until I learn to truly love myself and know that I don’t need anyone’s romantic love to validate me as a person, it’s not going to work. So don’t let heartbreak screw you up. Chances are, you’re not ready for it either. But the day will come eventually, and we’ll be ready for the real thing. *cue Phoenix song*

–Chloe