This post is for the me who never thought she’d get here.
Where exactly is “here”? Here is the contentment that comes from being released from a year of misery, sadness, and misfortune. Here is optimism and joy and embracing right now for all it’s worth. Here is falling in love and feeling like I’ve won the lottery.
Here is loving again after the worst heartbreak of my life.
This post is a nod to an old cliché, that life goes on after being dumped. But the thing is, when you are in the thick of that murky, mucky discomfort that all of us must wade through after a breakup, you feel like the pain will never end. That feeling is real, a scalpel that slices your heart into ribbons and turns the nights into dreadful hours that crawl slowly toward daylight. When you’re grieving, it’s a supernatural act of willpower to remember that you will love again.
To be honest, I didn’t really believe that I would, and by believe, I mean believe it with my whole heart. I knew in the abstract, intellectual sense that yes, people do survive terrible heartbreak and find love again. But I kinda felt like with Matt, things were about as good as they get. I believed that I couldn’t and wouldn’t have anything that made me feel as adored and cherished. Anything that I experienced after dating Matt would be a consolation prize, a “this will do.”
Now, if my life were a romantic comedy, this would be the part of the story where I tell you that Mr. Right Now saved me from “this will do” by showing me that great love would find me again. But that’s a cliché that didn’t pan out for me. The truth is that I convinced myself of something that made me believe, and that’s what I really want to share with you. Months ago, I found Gabrielle Bernstein’s TED talk, and I just could not stop thinking about a line from that talk, “Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety.” It resonated with me deep in my soul, and it became the line I turned to when I was feeling really awful about the breakup. It calmed me. It was the hug I needed late at night. It was my lifeboat.
Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety.
The more I thought about that line, the more I started to wonder what, exactly, was I certain about? That Matt and I would get back together? No, I was not certain about that. I knew that he and I would be okay, but to be honest, that was not the outcome that worried me. Perhaps it was in considering our post-breakup relationship that I started thinking about what made our romance so great. I realized that as awesome as Matt is (and he is, dear reader, he really is), he was not solely responsible for our greatness. I was awesome too. The ability to love someone deeply and honestly for who he is and his role in my life is something that existed within me. It takes two people to have a great romance, and I was one of those two people. As long as I didn’t become bitter and angry, I would carry that ability into my next romance.
As a late bloomer who did not date much, I had a lot of anxiety about men and relationships before Matt and I started dating. Part of that anxiety was a secret fear that I was either unlovable or incapable of loving someone else—that’s why all my relationships were so short-lived. Dating Matt showed me a different side of myself—it revealed a generous, compassionate person, one who is worthy of being chosen for romance. Dating the right person—even if the romance didn’t last forever and ever—showed me freedom and joy that I had never experienced in dating. Now, I can’t imagine not having those feelings in my romantic relationships.
Today I feel incredibly grateful to Matt for what our relationship taught me. But I’m also grateful to have had enough time and space between relationships to figure out why it is that I will love again. It’s not that finding the right person isn’t important— dear heavens, it’s really important!—but that when you enter a relationship feeling secure and confident and happy, you give that relationship a chance to bloom. Mr. Right Now doesn’t have to convince me that I’m worthy of his love. I already know that I am. Just as I know that I am capable of loving him for who he is, not because he “fixed” whatever was wrong with me. I don’t need fixing. I just need loving.
* Thanks to the band Live this post’s title. What a great album!