Do we ever talk about the reality of heartbreak and how it shapes the way we look at ourselves? Do we ever take the time to reflect on how far we’ve come or let it break us beyond repair? Much like any human being, I’ve struggled with my share of heartbreak, but one recent experience changed the way I looked at myself forever. While it did break me in some regard, it taught me a valuable lesson about my self-worth, and in keeping up with the transparent theme of the blog I wanted to share. It’s long, but I hope you enjoy :)
A little while back I had the extreme displeasure of falling into a situation with a young man shortly after my grandfather passed. I didn’t even realize quite how vulnerable I was after the loss until I fell in too deep to get myself out. We found ourselves frequenting the same circles and spaces over the last few years before we officially had a conversation. I knew and was fairly certain from the first few interactions between him and I that I did not like or trust him, AT ALL. Ironically, a lot of the preconceived notions I thought were proven wrong after more time spent together, turned out to be exactly right, but I didn’t realize it until after everything had fallen apart. By the time we frequented the same space more often, my disdain had faded into neutrality and I begin to feel as if I had misjudged him. More intrigue ensued following in-depth conversations surrounding life, interests, and future goals. We agreed to meet up one night to collaborate on an outside project and suddenly all the feelings of neutrality and possible intrigue turned into confused passion and intense emotion. He admitted he’d always felt something for me and felt it from the moment he first saw me. All these feelings of confusion and curiosity bubbled to the surface during our intimate conversation that night as he told me things about myself I had always wondered if people noticed or could even see. Without either one of us realizing it, he had suddenly given me what I’d constantly been craving, but couldn’t put words to. All I knew was that someone, a man, had finally ‘saw’ me…
Following suit was a rollercoaster ride of bullshit and intense emotion. I had fallen in head first based on a flurry of words and descriptions I’d always wanted to describe me. I found myself doing things and feeding off the emotional intimacy and intensity I’d always dreamed of, but ultimately knew I wasn’t ready for. I’d gotten so caught up in the exchange of emotion and words that I truly felt connected to him while his actions directly contradicted everything and said something completely otherwise. I was stupid enough to convince myself that what I felt and what he said he felt was real, even when he had explicitly chosen someone else. I had convinced myself that the intense feeling was enough to compensate for settling to be his option. I just knew I was never gonna feel like this again, so I held on for as long as I could. I did try to get off multiple times, but to no avail when I allowed him to pull me right back in. The emotional tug of war left me drained and feeling immensely inadequate, but still determined and holding on to words from a December night. He said he cared about me, believed in me, would be there and saw what I didn’t think anybody else could, and I felt like I had to believe it, even when my health was jeopardized for it, even when he chose someone else, even when he refused to acknowledge my feelings, even when he ignored and disregarded me, even when he lied and blamed me for the pain he caused. I’d given rides, listened, stayed late, opened my home, answered distress calls, believed in him, and exerted emotional labor to make sure his confidence was in tact all while he inadvertently destroyed mine. I don’t think I ever knew what my love looked like until I added up what I allowed him access to. He rendered me completely helpless emotionally, by the time May came I was completely shattered and my confidence was nearly half of what it was when I let him in. I let him convince me of my newfound worthlessness after being nothing, but a benefit and an asset to him. I wanted so badly for him to ‘see’ me like he did on that night in December, but the hard truth was that he wouldn’t because honestly, he never did.
In spite of everything, I still held on to the possibility that he would ‘see’ me like I truly desired and reciprocate like the many words he’d expressed. While words have always been my strong suit, admittedly they've also been my downfall when it came to my encounters with men. So worried about the words, I always seemed to fail at realizing they carried no real weight. And yet, I foolishly tied them to my heartstrings only to have my feelings weighed down by their inherent, heavy emptiness. They meant so much to me, I forgot people didn't use words in the same ways I did. It wasn’t until one night in late October, long after he’d gone, but still managed to reach back and ask for things, when after listening to me holler at the top of my lungs about the pain that I’d buried, that my friend suggested finally blocking him from every part of my life. After that I knew, I’d never look at men or myself the same…
-The Aftermath: The Reality of Heartbreak
After sending him a well thought out message and blocking him, I felt an emotional cinderblock lift off my chest. But the reality of the damage from the situation following the high of breaking things off left me feeling like I was being ripped a part from the inside out and more insecure than I had ever been to date. I struggled to see myself as I had before I met him. I began to critique every part of myself and picked up a new weight to put on myself, blame and insecurity. I began to question everything good about me and it started to come out negatively in my interactions with others.
The part of me that had been so innate and inherent all my life, my ability to connect with people, had been damaged beyond repair. I lived with a fear that forced me to cower in the darkest parts of my mind where I struggled with my own perceived inadequacies, now feeling as if I wasn't enough. I allowed this person to dig their selfish clutches into an intimate part of who I was and nearly tear my confidence to shreds in a matter of months. I questioned my worth and it forced me to find solitude in my aloneness in the midst of the uncertain intentions and carelessness of others. It was easier to hide in the pain than believe that someone for once might not cause me any.
I had been in so much pain from the experience, I squirmed at the very thought of any person trying to get anywhere near me. I was terrified of letting anyone near me out of fear that someone might once again jeopardize my safe space. I was no longer open to any new opportunities, not because I was bitter, but because I couldn’t even cope with my own hypersensitivity to people at the time and I blamed myself for everything.
While in the end part of me faulted him for his inability to see the value in me, I took on most of the blame for even allowing him into my space enough to know me in the ways that he did. Many a day, more than anything I blamed myself for trusting someone I knew I didn't trust to begin with. I blamed myself for not paying more attention, for being dumb enough to convince myself that a person could only care about me with their words when they're actions clearly said different. I’ve wasted time, I’ve wasted energy, I’ve wasted money, but not until recently had I ever felt like I wasted love. I blamed myself because I'd worked so hard to build myself up only to feel like I'd thrown it all away based on a tremendous feeling I thought I’d never feel again and wanted to cultivate. So busy trying not place this person in a box and live in the moment, I ignored all the red flags and signs. I worked so hard and wanted so badly for him to ‘see’ me, by the end of it I couldn’t even see myself anymore.
-The Recovery: Falling Apart to Come Together Again
More often than not, I feel like the worst scars are emotional because they're the wounds we or others can't see, and given they're innate invisibility to the naked eye they're the most difficult wounds to heal. By the time I encountered him, I thought I’d finally gotten to a point in my life where I no longer needed to seek validation from others, but I was wrong, lol. I still craved something I couldn’t seem to explain and couldn’t understand why I was so hung up on needing him to ‘see’ me. Turns out, I just wasn’t completely certain about what was so great about myself and I wanted to be reassured. But the truth of the matter was I didn’t need anyone else to reinforce what was already evident.
Regardless of what life may put you through, deep down you know yourself better than anyone else and you have to make sure you’re paying attention to the needs and wants that are inherent within you. You can’t allow someone all the joys and pleasures of who you are and not relish in them yourself. In a twisted turn of events, he showed me just how valuable I truly was as it related to who I was and what I had to give during this whole ordeal. Before him, I hardly realized what I had the power to do, what my love could do, but through the pain he caused I was forced to recognize it. It hurt and sucked more than anything, but while recovering from it I made sure the first person from that moment on who needed to benefit from my love was me. And my recognizing it, only made me want to ration and protect it from anyone else who didn’t deserve it.
I began severing the ties between my self-worth and a person’s ability to see all of me and my value as a human being. I looked at all that I felt like I’d lost and all that he’d gained from the situation, and thought, “well if what I gave could do so much for someone, imagine what I could do if I poured the same amount of energy into myself”. Rather than assuming that people will preserve me upon witnessing my light, I now do my own due diligence to protect it myself. I've stopped hungering for the need to be seen and recognized, and for once in the midst of doing the work for me, I've been forced to recognize myself. Amidst all that I felt was taken from me with nothing inherently tangible to show for my exhausting efforts, I can admit he gave me that much... A new ability to stop being so careless with me and giving so much of myself to others undeserving of even the shadows my light casts...
-Conclusion: There is sun after the rain…—See yourself first and foremost before seeking the validation of others.
The reality is people aren't as careful with you as you may be with them, and can go to great lengths to shatter you, so you NEED to be careful with yourself first. I speak from experience when I say that people treat you how you treat yourself.
I've given parts of me that I've never seen a return on, and while it was extremely painful, I’m now aware I have the capacity to change it. And while it doesn’t happen overnight because the recovery from this was especially painstaking and agonizing, the final change does happen and it’s amazing. Maybe people will never know the scars they’ve left on me, but letting go of them and the pain they caused did more for my well being than holding on to it. Being able to recognize my value in the midst of it is a lesson I’m thankful for.
I believe that every one is filled with the capacity to be cognizant of others, and just as women are capable so are men, but it is everyone’s job to exercise that ability. While people are equipped with the same capacity to execute emotional intelligence like all other human beings, a lot of them aren’t challenged to utilize it unless it directly benefits them. I think his negligence with my feelings was incredibly self serving, but that is because he was worried about himself and never me, and when two people are worried about the same person, how could there be any room for you?
I discuss this story to emphasize knowing your worth and being certain of it, so you don’t have to rely on others recognition because a majority of the time they won’t see it. But as long as you do, it just makes the journey through life and heartache that much easier. I've played my part in my downfall, running head first towards a wave of uncertainty and possibility. I've made the continuous mistake of stemming outside validation to my own self-worth. But in spite of that, I’ve made the conscious decision to make a shift and actively recognize my worth. I think a lot of people like me, but they don't value me. It's even more telling when you're aware of it and they aren't. But it is my job to make my value clear whether people recognize it or not, and even if they don’t, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. It is inherent not because of anybody’s ability to see it, but because I DO…
I hope this story inspired you to remember to recognize your worth, and if you’ve experienced anything similar please feel free to comment and connect below. I finally figured out how to get a comment bar up in here! LOL
Until next time,
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