I’ve surrounded myself with friends over the years who will drop a truth bomb on me so fast my head will spin.
They always do it from a place of love and support, but they don’t let me get away with much. We all need friends like this: our loyal and dependable “ride or die” friends who are all about kicking ass and taking up arms in our defense.
But this doesn’t mean they’ll tell us what we want to hear. And sometimes they’ll hit us with a new perspective that changes everything for the better.
This recently happened twice during conversations I had with friends about my recent heartbreak. During the first conversation, I explained that I couldn’t see the point of relationships anymore. I meet someone, I fall in love with them, and inevitably, it ends. I just didn’t see why I should continue putting myself out there, only to be hurt again. In the end, all the good memories are spoiled by the bad ones, and I’m left with an unbearable amount of pain.
My second conversation with a friend was about our respective relationship histories. I mentioned that I was annoyed about the fact that I’d fallen in love with two men since my divorce. I had always prided myself on being the kind of girl who didn’t fall easily. Was I now that person who falls in love with everyone I date?
After waiting a couple of beats, my friend asked me what was wrong with that, exactly? My tone had obviously conveyed my frustration and disgust with the whole idea of loving every person I get tangled up with. But her pause gave me time to reflect on the self-judgment in my tone. She waited and then delivered the comment that led to my epiphany.
What was the point in connecting with someone on an intimate level if we aren’t open to falling in love? And even if we don’t fall in love, can’t we just love for the sake of loving?
Now it was my turn to be silent. I was in shock, trying to wrap my head around this concept. I’d spent most of my life looking down on people who gave their hearts away easily; refusing to offer up mine was a source of pride for me.
I then heard the echo of my other friend reminding me that the point of relationships isn’t whether they last or not. The point is the experience we have along the way.
It felt like fireworks were exploding in my head, resulting in the following epiphany:
It isn’t whether or not something ends in happily-ever-after; the whole point is that it happens.
It’s okay to fall deeply in love with whomever we need to, however many times that happens. Love is a risk with no guarantees. But if a relationship ends, that doesn’t negate the wonderful moments that make up that part of our lives.
Maybe none of this seems mind-blowing, but it gave me pause. I’d been living my life with this idea that I had to protect my heart and build up this impregnable fortress against feelings. If I fell, it felt like I had done something wrong. And if a relationship ended, I immediately pointed a big fat finger at myself, battling shame in addition to loss and grief. I had failed to make something last, once again.
I drew all these conclusions about what these failed relationships said about me without ever seeing that some relationships are never meant to last forever. But, we don’t have to hold back our hearts. We can connect deeply with people and feel love for them. This doesn’t mean we can make them stay or keep their promises. But we can love them with everything we have and hold on to the beautiful experiences while they’re happening. When they’re gone, we get to keep them as memories.
Maybe I’ll never fall in love again, or maybe I’ll fall a dozen more times. Either way, I know who I now want to be in my relationships: a person who offers up her heart and doesn’t hold back.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Brooke Breazeale
Copy Editor: Travis May
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