The next time you find yourself contemplating if he was in fact “the one,” remind yourself of the truth you once failed to see.
Remember how you loved him with complete innocence and total abandon, the way a kid loves before the world tells her otherwise. Remember how you excitedly planned out the future, the wedding, the house on a little bit of land, the kids named Ava Sloan and Tucker Clay and all their Saturday sport games, the kind of family you’d be, the dinner parties you would host for family and friends, the gratitude you would share for your life and how God would be the center, and the chickens Hudson Grace and Moon.
Remember how it felt to put him first and love him with your entire heart and soul and being, without ever asking for anything in return. Remember how you allowed him to put you third, after business school and after his job. And remember how afterward, you wondered if all along, you perhaps gave too much and he too little.
Remember how many times you decided to set aside your own feelings in order to make him feel supported, encouraged, accepted, adored, lifted up, and loved unconditionally- no matter how drunk he got, or what bar he got kicked out of, or who he almost fought with at midnight at a downtown burrito shop, or how rude he was to a waiter, or his lack of empathy for others in need, or how disrespectfully he talked to his mom, or how he hurried off the phone with you because his schedule got too busy and he only had time to call at 11 p.m. Remember all the “I’m sorrys” and the “I will changes” and the “I can’t lose yous” amidst his early morning tears of regret. Remember how you forgave him every single time.
Remember the time in the university study room when you felt the weight of the world on your shoulders, and when he held you and looked in your eyes and told you that he would always love you and support you and put you first no matter what. Remember when he said you were the best thing that ever happened to him. And that you felt like home to him.
Remember how he broke every single one of his promises as the sun set on the horizon. Remember when the switch flipped overnight without any warning. Remember the “I’m having doubts.” Remember the “I don’t see a future with you anymore.” Remember the “I want something easy” and the “I got ahead of my skis.” Remember the way he couldn’t look you in the eye that day, the way he gave up so easily and so carelessly, and the way he drove away that day.
Remember the aftermath and how it felt like your soul had shattered far beyond repair. Remember how you couldn’t be touched or hugged by anyone after the break up because you tensed up every time someone got close to you. Remember how you momentarily lost sight of who you were when he left.
Remember that early June morning, the same day you were supposed to be on a flight with him to New York to meet his entire extended family. Remember seeing the picture of a new girl that wasn’t you kissing his cheek and that smug look on his face with the caption “Perfectenshlag: When everything in a man’s life comes together perfectly.” Remember how you cried harder than you had ever cried before—a river of tears that could have flooded the world. Remember the punch in the gut, how you fell to your knees and called in sick to work that day. Remember the overwhelming sadness, the physical toll on your body, the getting dizzy and the walls closing in and the stomach clenching. Remember how much it hurt to be replaced so quickly, so easily, so carelessly.
Remember that although he wasn’t your first love, he was by far your greatest heartbreak. And that even time couldn’t heal that deep of a wound.
But, girl, please also remember how you responded. Remember the way in which you rose up. Remember the way you loved him and respected him even in heartbreak and anger and raw emotion. The way you took the high road and handled yourself with such grace. Remember how you channeled all of the pain into building something beautiful from the broken places. Remember how you created something so much bigger than yourself, something that will outlive your own life. Remember building your dream nonprofit organization brick by brick and discovering your inner strength. Remember that feeling of exhilaration, fulfillment, and empowerment.
Remember not to ever settle for less than you deserve again. Remember that it should always be an equal partnership, and that you deserve that same kind of big love that you give. Remember that the way you love isn’t something you should ever apologize for or feel bad about or second guess. Remember that YOU are the one who holds the power to create your own beautiful, messy, wild story. Most of all, remember that you are enough.