Friday, October 12, 2012

Thanks for the heartbreak

Racking my brain for a topic, I've been figuratively pacing around my room for a couple of hours avoiding The Songs of Spring. My only occupation today was a long walk through Regent's Park and down Baker Street toward Oxford Street. Sure, it wasn't completely uneventful. I learned that Primark, however praised by the general public, is one of the most terrifically awful places to go shopping. At least on Oxford Street. I also discovered that I now wear a US size 4 in trousers/pants/jeans. This may mean nothing to some people, but for those of us with big hips who have battled with years of weight issues, it is indicative of a new lifestyle and a new confidence.

New confidence.

That's an interesting concept.

After pondering the goings-on of the day for a few more moments, I looked down at the iCal icon on my Macbook screen. It's October 12th. Whatever, right? There's no significance to this date. Yesterday, October 11th, was the shared birthday of Annie James and Hallie Parker in The Parent Trap (1998) - why I remember this, I have no idea - but October 12th? Well that's just any old day.

Yes, it is just any old day.

But then it dawned on me that a year ago this week, I entered the first real romantic relationship of my life. That is, if you could call it real. And whether or not you deem it romantic is up to personal interpretation. But regardless of the situation or the audience perception of this blog, there is some serious significance to it being a year since I discovered the toils of dating.

I don't know that I've ever truly revealed the reasoning for starting this blog. But because the answer to the question has finally become relevant, I guess it's time to divulge.

Back in January, I was still in dire straits. It wasn't because my winter break was over or I had tacked an internship onto an already busy schedule. It was because two and a half months of grief had passed and I still hadn't recovered from being broken up with.

When I was little, my mom told me a story of one of her most devastating heartbreaks. She recounted to me about how she couldn't eat or sleep. She felt empty inside, and the rejection destroyed her - albeit temporarily.

At a young age, I'd reasoned I would never come to that point. There would be no desperation in my life. If anyone is worth crying over, then they wouldn't give you reason to cry in the first place. That's how I see it.

But promises and practice don't always align. And even after a terribly short-lived relationship, I was out of my mind with sadness. Quite literally, too. Besides going to class - and I did get a 4.0 during the quarter that I struggled with my first heartbreak - I could barely distract myself. It was becoming debilitating, physically and mentally.

It brought me to the point of needing a constant outlet for my feelings. While some may choose to turn toward a shrink, support group or something similar, I figured that the best way for me to assess and then let go of feelings was to put them down in text.

And so was birthed The Songs of Spring.

Since then it has evolved into something more personal, not just about feeling sad about loss, but about analyzing life from where I stand in this world. I try to address every issue I face, rather than the single object that spurred my writing in the first place. And all in all, it has been a cathartic and beautiful experience, even when it's (at the same time) frustrating.

Eventually, taking my feelings to the page gave me the courage to let go of inhibitions in other ways. I tried to - mistakingly - patch things up with the boy who'd broken my heart. We had ups and downs as friends. At one point I revealed to him how badly I'd reacted to our relationship ending.

In retrospect, it all sounds a bit silly. But considering where I now stand - thoughtful but indifferent on the subject of that year-ago-romance - it was all for the better.

All of this has been for the better.

Even the being broken-hearted thing.

After a few months of feeling ill at every mealtime, playing association games between everything in my life and the boy who no longer liked me, among other really terrifying psychological missteps that I had to deal with in due time, I started to feel peace with myself and with my situation.

With this blog, I came to terms with some of my greatest faults. I opened myself up to a world that perhaps never cared (and possibly continues not to care) about my life experience, recognizing my own insignificance but also aware that my only true allegiance is to myself and my feelings. With that realization, I gave myself the chance to relive and, in the process, heal my wounds.

Not only has it made me more confident, but it's made me stronger.

When I think back on a year ago, where I was and what I was doing, it makes me cringe. That I was so malleable, so ready to find love that I was willing to sacrifice a part of myself in the process, is disturbing. But to think that in the end I was able to leave the experience unscathed, with a few stains of real world knowledge yet nothing else to spoil my innocent hope for the future, I am heartened.

In a year, I've had some of the toughest days, weeks and months of my life. I've also had some of the most important and telling days, weeks and months. But when you combine all the experiences together, there is a lesson to learn. Maybe the best way to explain is to condense it into an allegory.

In the same way that I walked to Oxford Street today so I might explore Primark (a place I've heard rave reviews of from multiple people), I walked into the lion's den the first time I ever endeavored to be loved.

And in the same way that I felt flustered, confused, entrapped by Primark as I wandered through overcrowded aisles past cheaply-made clothing, hitting people with my basket as I tried to scoot around them, I discovered how incredibly disorienting love can be. How it can disable you for who knows how long, even when you think you have the confidence to overcome its grasp.

But just like I walked out of the store today with two satisfactory clothing items in hand and a hopefulness to the contents of other stores along the street, I look forward to more opportunities to be loved and (perhaps) broken-hearted, to learn from it and to use my experience to create a life worth living.

We can't ask for perfection in life, but we can ask for the confidence to pursue the greatest goals. And in a year, I've discovered more of those goals than I ever had before. So thanks for the heartbreak a year ago. And thanks for giving me a reason to share my writing at all.

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