My love story was less than perfect, but it was mine to tell. I will remember the entire story until the end of my life. No one can really erase memories, no matter how hard you might try. Perhaps, one day, when life sees me as a bitter old woman, I will have memories to look back on—memories of a nine-year love—which was lost in the sands of time.
Looking back, my love started as innocently as any love story does. Being an introvert, I never initiated conversation; it was never my thing. While I wasn’t a loner, I reveled in being alone, because it gave me time to find my hideaway from the rest of the world. Even in my self-imposed isolation, there was always some part of me that longed for someone. Perhaps my personality gave me an idealistic picture of how relationships should be. I blame my younger self for having those ideals, but life seemed easier when I had an innocent view of the world.
Love can be so fickle, and time so often makes or breaks a relationship. I guess time was not really on our side. We were not getting any younger, and we both found ourselves at a crossroads in our lives. In the end, we found that we had to make a painful decision.
The past can hurt, but experience has taught me that you can either let go or keep running. Perhaps when I was younger, I would have chosen to run; however, I’ve learned the hard way that I cannot really run away from my past without being haunted by it. It came back to haunt me, no matter how hard I tried to avoid it.
What can the memories of a past love teach you about letting go, moving on, and finally finding love again?
#1 Do not hold onto a relationship simply because it is comfortable. For a time, I knew that the relationship was dying, because there was really nothing much to hold on to or to fight for. I realized then that the reason I was forcing myself to stay was that I had become comfortable.
Like many people, I have made the mistake of choosing to stay because of the comfort I felt. Comfort should not be confused with love, because it can lead to settling. My mother told me to never settle in a relationship; I almost did. [Read: 16 signs you’re settling in an unhappy relationship]
#2 How much time you invested into a relationship is never a good reason to stay. Nine years doesn’t just happen overnight. He and I grew together, and saw each other through many things. Unfortunately, we came to realize that time greatly changed us. Time often brings out the ugliness in people and shows their greatest weaknesses and fears. Love ultimately becomes a choice and making the choice day in and day out can become quite a challenge.
I was having an internal debate on whether I should stay or not. There I was, dreading the nine years, fearing it would all go to waste and be for naught. I eventually came to realize that a dead-end relationship can never be, and no matter how much time you have invested in a relationship, if the two of you are not compatible, it will be doomed. Whether you break up now, or waste another four years, the relationship cannot last.
#3 Love alone cannot save a relationship. As much as we both tried to save the relationship we had, we knew deep in our hearts that we were doomed to fail. While we tried to deny it and promised each other that we still loved each other, there was nothing much we could do. The most painful thing I realized was that love would ultimately fly out the window when we were both too stubborn and unwilling to let go of our pride.
Love alone cannot save a relationship that has grown weary because of beatings and trials. Love alone cannot save a relationship that has seen its share of betrayals and doubts. Love alone could never save us. [Confession: What I learned from the man who did not love me]
#4 We were a tragedy waiting to happen. From the onset of our relationship, we were doomed. The way I see it, nearly everyone’s relationship starts off as a bit of a tragedy waiting to happen, because we never really know where the relationship will take us, or how it will all go. In our case, he and I were a tragedy waiting to happen, but we just couldn’t see it.
Perhaps we were too blinded by superficial things to realize the awful truth. As your relationship ages, re-evaluate and reassess your wants and needs to make sure the two of you are still on parallel paths.
#5 Breaking up was the hardest thing to do, but it ultimately saved us. Breakups are horrific, and mine was quite a traumatic event. To say that the breakup left a gaping hole in my heart is an understatement. It definitely sucked during that particular time in my life, and I dealt with the pain in my own way. But the breakup saved me. I realized that the world was never as it seemed, and that I always had to be cautious. My greatest pain became my salvation.
Although breakups feel unbearable, they can teach us about ourselves and others. In the midst of your own breakup, search for answers and lessons that may be hiding in your struggle. [Read: How to find closure with yourself after you end a relationship]
#6 Letting him go will always be the hardest part. When all is said and done, I had to let him go. I had to say goodbye to the man who held my heart for so long. I might have only my memories left to visit, but I had to let him go—for both our sakes. We can never fully move on with our lives if we don’t choose to let each other go. It might be sad to think of at first, or even unthinkable, but this is where we find ourselves: strangers, but with fond memories.
Breakups are heart-wrenching and are never easy. I cannot say that I have fully moved on with my life, as the pain is still new. As I write these words, memories—both the good and the bad—fill my mind. Our romance wasn’t exactly a whirlwind; it took time, which we had both invested.
[Read: The real reason behind why love hurts so much when it goes bad]
Perhaps Neruda said it best: “Love is so short and forgetting is so long.” Had I known it took this long to forget someone, I would have had my gift of memory taken away from me. But perhaps being left with only memories to visit is a good thing; I can look back over the past without regret, and look to the future stronger and wiser.
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