My first and only (thus far) adult heartbreak happened when I was 25/26. It happened with a guy I met on a dating app who happened to live 5 minutes from me. He had this bad boy streak about him, a mysterious dark vibe that indicated he’d been through some kind of hell and back. He once owned a motorcycle, had been in fights, and had driven out to the OC from Denver, Colorado alone to start a new life (he had an older brother who was already out here).
Anyway. I fell for this guy hard. When I told this story to people in the past, I would say, I thought I loved him in an effort to distance myself from the mess that was me and heartache that engulfed me for some time. But now, I know that’s not true. I did love him. I just didn’t know how to love him best. I know I loved him not only because of my desire for him for myself, but my desire for him to have the best, be the best. I wanted him to be happy and fulfilled. I wanted the world for him.
2.5 weeks after our first date, I left to study abroad in Barcelona. We somehow survived my being on another continent for 3.5 months. I talked with him at least once a day, always on my way to class and sometimes at home while unwinding. I really don’t know how it happened. It blows my mind – and it reinforced the thought that we were somehow meant to be, whatever that meant. When he came out to Europe, I gave him all of me and had the most glorious time exploring with him.
When we got back to the States, it was bliss. We got to live out the normal and simple life, actually being with each other in the same country, city, vicinity. We spent almost every day together, met each other’s friends, cooked together, drank together.
In the end, it didn’t work out. As the honeymoon stage subsides, several non-negotiable differences became more and more apparent. It became hard to be around each other without him feeling exasperated and me feeling inferior. We went through cold tense silences, me wanting to remedy the situation, him expressing frustration. In the end, all we did together was eat, sleep, and exist. I became that girl I had vowed I would never be – the girl without a voice, captive by fear of losing the guy, the doormat.
When it ended about 9 months after our first date, 5 months after we came back from Europe, I was devastated. I had envisioned a life together with this guy, just based on the sheer emotional and chemical attraction. I was so broken. I cried driving to and from work. I was a mess. I had broken it off but now I thought I had made a mistake. I asked if he wanted to try again and it seemed to go that way, until it didn’t. I repeat – I was a full-blown mess. I felt empty and blindsided. I went to therapy every week after having taken a break during the time I was with this guy.
I denied. I cried. I fumed. I was defensive. I picked up the pieces. I examined each one. I sought to understand not only the relationship and what happened, but myself and him separately. I came to terms. I began to understand. I healed. I owned up to my side. I began to hope. I accepted. I grew. I felt myself become stronger. I began to see myself surpass even the Grace prior to the relationship. I became wiser and more intuitive. I became freer. I became more me. I apologized less for myself. I began to love myself in a way I had never known or thought possible. I began to understand and respect the ways of men and women, to embrace the differences and celebrate the ways we fit one another.
It was a beautiful thing, this whole ordeal. I had never felt that broken in my life before, except maybe with family, and even then it’s a different kind of breaking.
And I had never felt this triumphant and feminine either. It was through this that I owned up to the woman in me and gave her a voice and a platform to be.
I’ve since lost touch with my ex. He did congratulate me and wish me the best when I graduated a few months after we broke up. And by that time, I was whole enough to respond with a sincere Thank you and I hope you kill it too. I respect/ed him and still want/ed the world for him. It felt good. It felt right. We both did the best we could. And I don’t think it could have ever gone a different way.
Wherever you are, thanks.