I have never loved anybody as much as I loved him.

I thought I had experienced the depths of love and heartache. But with him, it was different. It was frustrating, complicated, exhilarating, and beautiful. I was the truest version of myself with him, raw and unfiltered. He saw every part of me, even the ones I was ashamed of. I never thought I’d see myself being with someone forever until him.

However, sometimes, the idea of forever is much shorter than we think.

I’ll never understand how somebody could hurt somebody that loves them. The relationship took more from me than it gave to me. I mistook the drama for passion. The highs of our relationship felt so great because the lows were horrific. I knew that what I was doing was wrong, yet I stayed, hoping that one day my person would prove everyone wrong. I isolated myself from my friends and family. I didn’t want them to know that they were right about everything they said he was. I was ashamed of the person I was becoming in this relationship.

When he left, it destroyed me. It was an immense feeling of sadness. It’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish anybody. It rips apart your insides and it becomes impossible to not drown in the sadness and confusion of it all. I spent nights crying to God, begging Him to help me unlove him.

Realizing he wasn’t who I thought he was felt like losing him all over again. It took a lot of work and honesty on my part to even begin to accept what happened. I realized I had seen him as the person I wanted him to be, not the person he really was.

A wise friend once wrote, “Sorry doesn’t excuse the betrayal, it only softens the blow.” This resonated with me mainly because it was a turning point for my healing. I realized an apology from him wasn’t going to change anything he did. It wasn’t going to magically heal my wounds and make me whole again. Part of healing was acceptance.

One of my favorite John Mayer lyrics is, “Parts of me were made by you and planets keep their distance too.” Part of healing meant accepting that this person was important to me. It meant accepting that he impacted my life in ways I never thought possible. It was important for me to acknowledge the good times and understand that it was okay to miss them too. He was my person, and for a while I thought I was his too. Once I accepted that what happened between us mattered, it became easier to make peace with it all.

You cannot teach someone to empathize with you. After hours of empty conversation, it started dawning on me that this person simply didn’t care about how he hurt me and was never going to feel sorry for the way he treated me. It was time to empathize with myself and take the necessary steps to pick up my broken pieces. After taking care of him for so long, it was time to tend to my own needs. That meant taking that trip, reaching out to that now distant friend, and pursuing every dream that I felt I couldn’t when I was with him.

For so long, I felt powerless. I couldn’t come to terms with what he did, mainly because I didn’t want to believe that the person I loved would hurt me like this. I realized power is in forgiveness. It is in accepting what happened and realizing that there’s nothing either of us could do to change it. I forgave myself for allowing myself to be treated so poorly. I forgave myself for neglecting my own needs and prioritizing his. Most importantly, I quietly forgave him for the way he chose to handle things between us.

I had to learn to give myself closure. That meant letting go of the hope that one day he would realize he was in the wrong and beg for my forgiveness. It meant accepting that I loved someone and they hurt me. It meant seeing things for what they really were and not what I wanted them to be.

I began investing time in the people who truly mattered, the people who truly wanted me to heal and move on. It was these people who reminded me that healing is not linear. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Some days, I felt on top of the world. I blasted all my favorite girl anthems with my best friend and felt so over him. But there were days in which all I wanted to do was lay in bed and listen to all the songs that reminded me of him.

I realized I didn’t have to be bitter about what happened. The way he treated me says more about him that it ever will about me. One thing my parents always told me was to be kind, even in the face of darkness. No matter how dark and scary things got between us or how horribly he handled my heart, it was important for me to stay kind and graceful. It’s easier said than done, believe me. But I was not going to let his selfish actions turn my soft heart into a hard and cold one. It is a process, but eventually, you get there. You realize there’s no point in rehashing the past and in wallowing in self-pity over things you can’t change anymore. There were no cryptic tweets I posted with the hopes he would see. There was no more empty conversation with him in hopes that I would understand the reasons for why he left. I simply kept my distance from him and began the healing process.

Looking back, I spent a lot of time trying to prove to him that I was worthy of his love and convincing him that if he only opened up, we would make it. I learned that it is not the end of the world if they don’t want you. Your world ends when you neglect you. I had to grow to understand that just because I wanted him didn’t mean he deserved me. You cannot love someone into loving you. While I was trying to heal him, I should’ve been trying to heal myself. I tried to fill his void but didn’t realize that in the process, I was making myself smaller and smaller. I knew he was broken but failed to realize that wanting to be with someone who mistreated me as much as he did meant I had issues of my own as well.

For anyone going through any type of heartbreak, understand that eventually, it does get better. Time really does heal all wounds. I wish I could write out an outline of steps to take to mend your broken heart, but the truth is, there is no right way. Everyone’s journey is unique. You will grieve the loss of this person on your terms and on your own time. Expect the occasional slip up, the occasional sad day, but also expect the day in which you will feel resilient and the day in which you will love again. Learn to hold on when the wave of sadness tries to flood you. Forgive yourself for loving the wrong person but never for loving with all of your heart. To love someone takes bravery, courage and compassion. It is not a weakness to open up to someone and allow them to get to know your heart. You did right even if they didn’t do right with you.

Living in the aftermath of another person is not beautiful. I suppose I’ll never truly know the reasons for his actions, but I don’t feel like I need to anymore. I am slowly picking up the pieces and making my way out of the darkness. I’ll never be the same person I was before him, but I don’t want to be anymore. This experience forced me to grow, and ultimately, I am better because of it. I no longer place my self-worth into the hands of another person, and I find comfort in the fact that I can love as deeply as I did. Slowly but surely, the light will prevail. Life will be beautiful again, just in different ways. TC mark

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