“I can’t believe he’s already hooking up with someone else. We’ve been broken up for two weeks!”
“I feel like I didn’t matter at all. She moved on so quickly.”
I hear statements like these all the time from people who are still nursing a broken heart. They struggle with letting go and fully healing from the ending of a relationship because they can’t accept the reality that the other person has moved on, and seemingly without looking back.
But more than that, the person hasn’t ever done the one thing this person needs them to do to feel better about the loss of the relationship—tell them that they mattered.
We all want to feel acknowledged for the part we played in somebody’s life, especially if it was a significant relationship. When we have loved somebody for years, maybe had children with them or even only dated them for a short period of time, the ego part of our brain has this desperate need to be acknowledged. To be told that our presence in that person’s life meant something to them.
We’ll continue to suffer if we wait for this.
Why do we need this acknowledgement so desperately? Why is it really so important to us to have that one person give us that validation? Do we really believe that we didn’t matter at all, that the relationships we have with other people didn’t mean something to both us and them without their validation?
Here’s what I’ve realized amidst my own suffering around this: it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter whether that person has moved on, or found someone else, or never called you again after three passionate months together—when you both thought you had found your soulmate in each other.
It doesn’t matter if they never tell you that the time you spent together was meaningful and impactful and meant something to them.
It doesn’t matter if they never take the time to reach out to you again and acknowledge that they look back on your time together and appreciate what you gave to them in that relationship. Or that they still think of you sometimes and maybe even occasionally miss you.
Because all that’s important is: did it matter to you? Were you loved? For a period of time, were you happy?
Did you wake up in the morning, look over at that person next to you, their arm nestled tightly around your waist and feel like you never wanted to get out of bed?
Did the relationship change you? Did you learn things about yourself you didn’t know before you met them?
Did you grow in some way…did that person show you how to be more compassionate? How to get along better with your mother? Cure you of your fear of flying or traveling to a foreign country so now you’ve been to places you never dreamed you’d go?
Did you learn how to throw together a gourmet meal with just five ingredients by watching them? Maybe even learn a second language because they came from another country?
Did the ending of that relationship break you apart so wide open, down to the shell of your former self, that you were forced to look at things about yourself that you’d avoided for years?
Better yet…because you were so shattered, did you actually have to do the work on healing those things so you could move forward and find peace again?
Then you mattered.
Because nobody comes into our lives, no matter how long it was or how brief it may have been and bestows such sacred, soulful gifts on us unless we mattered.
So stop questioning it. Put an end to your own suffering and acknowledge yourself.
Because at the end of the day, that’s the only person’s acknowledgment that truly matters at all.
Author: Dina Strada
Image: Hillary Boles/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman