To The Girls Who Need To Learn To Love Themselves First


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Carl Fairclough
Carl Fairclough

I understand how you must be feeling – desperate for closure, envious of those living a fulfilling single life and loving it, and clueless about where to start on your journey to letting go of the person who haunts you and has consistently failed to give your rare and beautiful heart what it needs.

That was me for what felt like endless months.[sociallocker]

And I have no idea what happened, but I’ve been feeling pretty peaceful and good about myself these last few days. It’s a foreign feeling – like the time I suffered through a stomach bug from hell and then woke up one morning feeling all better and intent on actually going to the bathroom without an escort. But alas, I passed out and busted my chin. So I’m a little worried this peaceful feeling is going to end with a metaphorical passing out and chin busting, but confidently assuming it’s not, here’s my story and what I want to say to you about yours.

I’ve always been fiercely independent. While everyone was busy dating and getting hung up on the male species in middle and high school, I was busy writing, doing my geometry homework, going to the beach with my friends, and generally being young and free of responsibility. I had crushes and disappointments, sure. But my low bullshit tolerance never let me hang my head too much. I didn’t need a boyfriend. Kissing looked awkward and a little gross. Breakups didn’t seem too much fun. I had moments of wondering about and wanting romance, intimacy, and a special someone, for I’ve always been a bit of a hopeless romantic. But it just never panned out for me, and I ultimately had greater things to worry about.

But last year, I fell in love for the first time. He was one of my best friends, but he had trouble and damaged goods written all over him. For whatever reason, I was hardly swayed and became wrapped around his beautiful finger within weeks. We were crazy about each other. We talked every single day and entertained the idea of adventures and a life together. I fell hard, fast and completely. And in case I haven’t foreshadowed enough, I’ll skip the gory details and confirm that he indeed broke my heart into a million pieces.

I struggled with it more than I’ve ever struggled with anything in my entire life. It was like someone died. It was like losing a limb. It was like being locked in a basement and slowly tortured every day. There was a lot of cliché and gross behavior, such as Googling articles about heartbreak, crying on the bathroom floor, not eating my dinner (or taking two hours to eat it), and blowing up his phone with my misery and need to feel heard. It all feels ridiculous and irrational in retrospect.

But when our hearts are broken and our minds are clouded, we do things that don’t make sense.

We hurt ourselves more. We spiral. We live with false hope. We make poor decisions. We fail and hold ourselves back because life feels strangely cold and meaningless without the warmth of that one person. I was surrounded by love, support and opportunity, but all I wanted was him. As hard as I tried to stop wanting him – to quit him like a crack addict trying to quit crack – the more I began to doubt it would ever happen. The prospect of feeling sad and miserable for the rest of my life didn’t seem very inviting. It was a cruel reality, and I lived it every day for months and months.

So what happened, you may ask? After 6 long months of riding a roller coaster of feelings and experiences that were all intricately connected to him, how did I snatch myself up by the collar and decide that I needed myself more than I needed him? I’d hate to be vague or underwhelming, but it kind of just happened.

I finally got fed up. Something snapped. Something clicked. I was nearly drowning in the aftermath of yet another painful, terrible and cruel fight when my head suddenly broke the surface and I could breathe again. And just like that, bad memories rolling through my head like thunder and the desire to be free pumping through my veins like blood, I was done. I was done settling for less.

I was done giving one human permission to make me feel small and miserable.

I was done wasting my own time and breaking my own heart. I was done apologizing for having feelings and standards for how to be treated. I was done sabotaging myself and dragging him down with me.

I’m admittedly a bit skeptical of this mental breakthrough. It’s like seeing the sun peep through the clouds, but only focusing on the clouds and waiting for that first raindrop to splatter. But so far, so good. It’s been days since this revelation, yet I feel happier, braver and more at peace than I have in quite some time. I don’t really know what’s happening. Maybe I’ve finally developed a tolerance, a thicker skin, and a stronger resolve. Maybe a guardian angel has her hand on my shoulder. Maybe I no longer have room in my heart and life for such senseless pain. Maybe I hit rock bottom and the only place left to go was up. All I know is that I feel amazing and very protective of this newfound feeling.

I will always care about this person and want him in my life in some capacity, but right now, I can honestly say that I care more about me than I do about him. I’m putting myself first.

I don’t know how your story is going to end and how your heart is going to figure out how to start beating again. I don’t know the depth of your love for him, and I don’t know the depth of your pain. I certainly don’t know if anything I’ve said or will say will help in the slightest, because I know how it feels to read piece after piece about healing and growth and feel nothing. But here it goes…

He doesn’t stand a chance. There is a quiet resilience locked away somewhere deep inside of you, and it’s looking for just the right moment to come through – the perfect crack to escape from. The pain may seem endless. You may believe that you’ll never recover from it. But in reality, it’s just going to take a hell of a lot of time. Sometimes months. Sometimes years. Sometimes decades (I hope it doesn’t take a decade.)

Progress is never linear. It will come in waves. It will come in pieces. It may even come when you least expect it. But you have to want it. You have to want it way more than you want him. You have to want more for yourself. You have to open your eyes and see everything else life and the world has to offer you. You have to get really fed up and do a lot of forgiving for the both of you. You have to find what’s really missing here. (Spoiler alert: he’s not even remotely what’s missing.) You have to dig deeper.

Find yourself. Find your people. Find your passion. Find therapy. Find religion. Find your happy place. Find your path in life. Find your brain. Find logic. Find the truth.

Every chapter has to close at some point. Every story and every feeling inevitably comes to an end. Life is always going to highly consist of making changes, letting things go, and starting over. Your pain will pass. The person who couldn’t give you his time and attention when you were willing to give him the world will become a speck in your rear view mirror and a shadowy blur in the back of your mind. One day you will realize that you only had him for a brief time, but that you’ll always have yourself. And when everything else falls apart and away, you absolutely must look out for yourself.

Then, and only then, will you learn how to love yourself more than you ever loved him.[/sociallocker]

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