Being in a meaningful relationship in my early 30s was one of the dreamiest moments in my life. The stars had aligned to send someone right when I needed him. It was sudden and magical because I was in a dark place and felt it was necessary to experience love and joy. I had met a man who ignited a passion within me and who had initially promised a future together.
My mistake was overlooking the important things I needed for my growth and unwisely believing a relationship would save me from my own crippling depression. Any flaws he had were shielded by me since I wanted to desperately live in the moment.
This was the beginning of my fairy tale romance. I felt consumed by lust and passion. The search was over. It was love at first sight, and it felt like we were soulmates. We were riding the romantic wave together in our own little world filled with sunshine, false promises, and rose-colored sunglasses.
It was a significant beginning with a melancholy middle and a heartbreaking end. Still, it made me realize that being in my 30s did not mean I was absolved from the journey of learning and self-discovery.
This was just the beginning.
My rose-colored glasses cracked a year later when he let me know he did not foresee a future and wanted a break.
Finding the power to move on and reconstruct yourself after having your heart shattered is one of the toughest challenges post-breakup. A lesson I sorely learned and am thankful for because it opened my mind and changed my philosophy about dating.
During my reflection period, I focused on completing graduate school and getting back into some of my favorite hobbies. I began to spend more time with the people I loved and to have weekend adventures with them. I accepted all invites to go out during that time, even if all I wanted to do was stay inside.
A close friend and I spent several weekends traveling through NYC and visiting museums. We would then go to some of our favorite food spots and order things until we were stuffed. I am glad I took every opportunity to go outside. Venting was a great way to temporarily feel relief. But actively educating myself about my relationship dynamics and my self-esteem helped me learn and understand myself more.
Graduate School was vital for me since it served as an escape. One of my final ethics and philosophy classes allowed me to open my eyes to how I view things and the world. It challenged me to see if I wanted to make a difference or sit back and wallow in my own misery. It made me realize I could make an impact with my profession or continue and go for my Doctorates to educate others. The options I had made me feel inspired and motivated. These experiences helped shift my outlook and find my own purpose.
The idea that we have associated finding the one with achieving fulfillment is wrong. Having a partner does not guarantee a blissful experience because relationships take work. Love is beautiful, but one-sided adulation is not. It is essential to be present and stay grounded when we meet someone.
Being burned by a partner has not stopped me from believing that I can find a man worthy of me, a man who will respect, support, and encourage me. However, I have also learned to be more comfortable with being single in my 30s and that my relationship status does not define me.
Being passive or silent was no longer an option for me if I decide to date. I am learning to notice flags from the beginning, to vocalize what I need, and most importantly, to walk away when things were no longer working out for either party.
Never hold onto something that is crumbling. Just let it dissolve and keep it moving. A failed relationship is not the end; it is the beginning of a journey.
The aftermath will be tough at the start, but you will see the silver linings as you keep progressing. It is a road that will open up some wounds but will make you feel more powerful when you discover your inner strengths.
I can look back now without anxiety. This process has taught me to heal and to be more compassionate with myself.
Rebuilding and finding myself after heartbreak has taught me that there is still a long way to go. I will continue to learn more about who I am, my needs and wants, and the people that I keep attracting in my life, friends included.
Being too selfless has cost me a lot, and it has been difficult learning to be more egoistic and demanding with others. In the past, many have taken advantage of my generosity. It was time to learn to be more aware of how much energy I am expending when it is not reciprocated. Prioritizing my needs, focusing more on myself, and changing my communication methods have helped me feel more empowered. I now understand the things to look for in a partner if I decide to date in the future.
This path has taught me about patience and having mercy. Blaming ourselves for failed relationships will not change the past. Take this opportunity to learn so you will not repeat the same mistakes in the future. Be thankful for family and friends that can help you move stronger than ever. Prioritize your goals, dreams, career and focus on creating a better tomorrow.
Forgiving and loving myself for the first time in years after my breakup was one of my most inspiring moments. It was groundbreaking for me, and it allowed me to embark on a journey of growth and healing. I promised myself that I would respect and not betray myself in the future.
For now, I will continue enjoying my independence and cherish my freedom.
The support system of friends and family has strengthened me. But I also remember to admire and praise myself with words of affirmation because if I lose hope in myself, I will be betraying my soul.
Ultimately, romantic relationships will never fill me with self-love. Only I can give myself the fuel and sense of empowerment to face the road that lies ahead by honoring and loving who I am.