#3 - Learn the meaning of true love
The first time I fell in love, I was 19 years old. And I can still remember the night that my ex and I had told each other for the first time that we loved one another. It was pretty special to me, certainly a memory that even though it is now long over, I can look upon fondly with no regrets.
But after four years, even though we loved each other, that love just wasn't enough anymore. It broke my heart to know that after such a long time together, the person that was my whole world told me that they didn't see me the way I saw them. For any person who has been in this position, I'm sorry. Because frankly, being heartbroken feels like death. No matter what you try to do, no amount of tears or talking it out can ease the pain. There's a hole in your heart where that person used to be. Even thinking about those memories now makes me tear up, but I digress.
It wasn't until I started dating Matt that I truly understood the meaning of love. At first, it was in the simplest of things. Whether it be he cooked me my favorite meal or shared a song he was learning for the band, I was excited to learn as much about him as I could. We did everyday things like food shopping, curl up in bed and sharing stories about our life, have sing-a-longs and harmonize with one another, even talk on the phone every night before going to bed. I couldn't believe I was finally moving on, finding that peace and happiness I had needed to find. I started smiling again, I couldn't write fast enough, and the pieces of myself that I had hidden away for so long re-appeared....met with acceptance and appreciation.
I had to share all of this with you, the reader, in order to share the next part. (Just know that this is very hard for me to share, but in order to get to the good parts, we all need to deal with the bad parts.) It was inevitable that in any relationship that ends, there needs to be closure. Mine came in May of 2008. Kyle had asked me to drop off one of his most treasured pieces of Green Day memorabilia that he had left at my apartment. He was going to be at the airport near my house, so he wanted me to meet him there and give him his stuff. I decided that instead of just dropping it off and leaving, it was only right that after four years together, I gave that part of my life a proper farewell. (It truly was a farewell, as my ex was leaving to meet up with a girl who would later become his wife.)
The meeting felt slightly surreal to me, I mean, this was it. There would be no need for anymore communication, unless on mutual friendly acquaintance terms, no more love, no more future together. We met up, I gave him his things, we shared a few words, and I hugged him goodbye and wished him luck. It was hard, but I did it.
With every step I took away from Kyle, the reality of goodbye set in and by the time I got to my car, I sobbed harder than I ever had in my life. Letting go was supposed to be easy, it wasn't supposed to hurt like this. I felt numb inside and no matter how hard I tried, I became consumed in it. Luckily, I had friends who came to my rescue in such a time of need. Thanks to my best friend Vicki, I spent what would've been a depressing night filled with Kleenex and wine with her and her now-ex, watching DVDs, getting drunk and being in the company of people who cared about me.
That morning after was when I finally got to talk to Matt. He was glad I had not been alone the night before, but also sad that he couldn't be there for me. We made plans for me to come over later on in the day and I would stay over, ensuring that I wasn't going to go through the pain by myself. Hours later, as I pulled up in front of his place and walked to the door, Matt was right there, ready to greet me. I could barely put my bags down before he enveloped me in the biggest hug, whispering sweet words as I tried to keep myself together after hours and hours of crying my eyes out. Most men would run away from a woman dealing with an ex, Matt just hugged me and told me I was home now, that this is where I would be safe. He let me cry in his arms that night, wiping my tears away. He let me talk about my feelings, just listening and only sharing advice when the moment seemed appropriate. He kissed me and loved me, despite my situation, my fears, my insecurities, and my shortcomings.
Let me tell you, when you find someone who can love you, especially when you are crying over your ex, it's special. I understood that night what it meant to have someone truly love me. Of course, family and friends will always love you, but to have someone willing to give you their all, even as you take your time giving them yours, it means more. To be with a person who doesn't expect you to change (unless you want to) and to only be who you are, because that's the you that they love the most. To not be afraid to tell you how much they love you as many times as they feel like it....even after the 500th time that day.
So at 19 years old, I fell in love for the first time. But it wasn't until I was 24 that I knew what love truly meant. It's something more than your first love....it's everything.