Beginning of the Ends
February 1, 2018
You build this perfect world and make all these plans and invest all this time and suddenly it just ends. Good-intentioned people will tell you, “High school relationships mean nothing,” but all you can think is that maybe yours could have been the exception. Now you have to pretend you don’t know the one who once felt like home, like you don’t know their secrets, their fears, and dreams. You aren’t on the outside looking in. You aren’t even at the window anymore. That’s what hurts. You spent all this time, possibly gave them your body and soul, and say you regret nothing, but it eats you up and they—well, they just belittled you to a mere moment they may never replay in their mind again.
While it may feel like everything came crashing down, whether you are the heart broken or the heart breaker, it’s a strange feeling to all of a sudden be alone. It’s cliche, but think of it as a new beginning. While on my journey to come to terms with my breakup and gain some self-love, I gained perspectives from someone just starting a family (Mr. Edward Adamson, who teaches economics), someone whose job is to counsel others through hard times, and has experienced heartache herself (Mrs. Amanda Smith, a counselor here RLHS), and an exception to the rule of high school dating who has married her high school sweetheart (Mrs. Kimberly Botts, who teaches AP Literature and English 4 Contemporary).
Right now, you may wonder why the pain of loving an ex hurts like hell, but you’re totally unable to let them go. That’s because you’re waiting for the impossible the happen—the two of you getting back together. Someone can promise you forever, someone can find someone better, but only you can give yourself the strength to love yourself and carry on. And while their absence feels like every goodbye mixed into one, the pain will always remind you of how genuine the joy you felt was real. I admit my ex and I had great memories laughing till our sides hurt or going to the gym and eating cookies right after because “cardio just wasn’t our thing,” but that’s all they should remain—moments. If you’re like me, sometimes you want to keep the pictures, the cards, and the train tickets, but then sometimes you want to throw the whole damn box of memories into a flaming trash can. As much as you want the memories of them, that’s all they should be at this point, especially if the other person has already moved on. I learned my lesson after all the moping around became too exhausting and pointless. I deleted all the pictures of my ex off of everything. This is the hard part —the forgetting. Delete them off everything—SERIOUSLY. If you really want to keep mementos for when you’re old and wrinkly, then put it in a box and open it on your deathbed.
Eventually after you get tired of being all sad, life will begin to happen. As Mr. Adamson said, one day people will forget about the past when the future starts to happen, “I don’t really remember that much before meeting my wife,” Adamson said. “I don’t really remember much about the relationships beforehand, now we have a kid and it’s almost hard to remember what life was like before her in our life. At the time things hurt, you kind of learn from them after a little bit of time.” He is totally right; time just needs to happen and in between those mundane, routine, exhausting days, there will be healing. Just think—now is your time to grow into your own person. You won’t ever have to worry if your significant other doesn’t like who you turn into. You get to figure out who you are without anyone influencing your decisions.
The ability to grow and be your own person hearkens a second piece of advice: you don’t have to jump into something with anyone new (and shouldn’t if it doesn’t feel right!). Find yourself, even if it takes multiple years alone to find who you really are. Don’t search for love with someone else, find self-love first. “What I found was that if you’re constantly looking for someone to date, you’re not going to find someone worth dating,” said Mr. Adamson. His advice struck me and I realized if I was constantly sad and thinking of an ex, then I shouldn’t move on or else it’s just searching for them in everyone else and it’s not fair to me or who ever comes into my life wanting a chance. Comparison kills. But eventually who ever broke you starts slipping from your mind. “[Breaking up is] all you can think of for days, weeks,” said Mrs. Smith. “Everything is related to that person and then after a while you realize ‘I haven’t thought about them in a few days.’ It starts as increments and then you keep having a few of those and you start to learn you’re gonna survive. It hurts like hell right now, but it will get better because it always has in the past.”
However, maybe there is a chance you will get together again—the exception to the rule that high school relationships don’t last. Mrs. Botts was young when she married at 21, but it doesn’t mean it was easy. “There was one time we broke up for four months, but because we were so close there wasn’t really any way for us not to keep in touch and not be around each other,” she said. “We just had that kind of connection and continued to talk to each other and work through it and decided we were being silly and there was no reason for us to be apart. We ended up getting back together.” Not every relationship in high school will have this kind of a connection, of course, but if you are in a relationship you think might actually work out then give it your all, don’t lose sight of who you are, and always remember that there will always be bumps—even in the “perfect” relationships.
But what do you do when a relationship feels like it’s something worth giving your all, and then one day it’s just…not? That can really cause a lot of inner turmoil. Mrs. Smith put it perfectly: “One moment it’s so intense, you are so sure about this person and you love this person but then all of a sudden, when it’s all fizzling down, it’s like, ‘How could I have been so sure about something and then have it not work out?’ While everyone’s experience is different, don’t dwell on the relationship that ended; instead, become someone you don’t mind being alone with. Discover new music—the kind that people dance to alone in the movies. Or maybe, like Mrs. Smith, indulge: “If I wanted a box of mac and cheese for dinner then I could have that mac and cheese for dinner,” she said.
A quick life update: I started this article back in January feeling down and working on myself from body to mind. In doing so, I joined the gym, hung out with friends, applied for scholarships and just learned to enjoy my own company. Now, I’m going to college almost paid for through various scholarships, finally gaining muscle and just…moving on. I encourage you, the reader, to do something different, something you said you’d do but never did: get a haircut, join a gym, be more active or talkative. Do things that make you feel small, so that you realize how big the world and universe is compared to the pain of a broken heart that can be healed. Now the pain isn’t going to go away, but hey, maybe in ten years down the road, you’ll see that person and you’ll get a little sting in your stomach but in time this becomes manageable. The world is too big and beautiful to not be enjoyed by the likes of you – go live.