Love has always been at the center of my world. From the happily ever after’s as a child to the tearjerking romance novels as an adult.
I have always been infatuated with the idea of being in love and being loved.
As I got older, I fell in love with the adoration that came to me throughout my relationships.
The warmth of falling asleep embraced by another’s arms and the eyes that lit when met with mine. The constant assurance of comfort, care, and brightness that came with being someone else’s happiness.
I fell in love with being loved. But that love always came from someone else.
I grew up with this notion that to be loved was to be adored by another, and somewhere along the way, I forgot to learn to love myself.
So, what happens when the person offering that love isn’t there anymore?
Having bounced between relationships until turning 20, I was suddenly faced with the harsh reality of adulthood and independence after years of having boyfriends to use as a crutch.
The love and reassurance I received in relationships gave me the foundations to feel confident and capable. Having lost this reassurance I relied so heavily on, any sense of contentment in my own company was completely unbeknown to me.
I felt lost, empty, and alone, with no idea how to stand on my own two feet after spending so long clutching onto the tiptoes of others.
I was forced to build new foundations from scratch. Because, as it turned out, the love that made me feel good before was only temporary.
I had to find a new permanent source of contentment. Considering I was the only permanent thing in my life, that contentment had to be found within me.
In the beginning, it was scary. I had to swap out the things I’d found comfort in for things that made me feel uncomfortable; until these new things were comfortable enough to be my new norm.
I found new comfort in the peace of falling asleep alone instead of being caressed by the snores and sweats of a partner.
I found more light in looking at myself in the mirror and appreciating the body I have than in staring into another’s eyes, looking for a light to compliment me.
I took myself on dates in coffee shops. I took myself on walks in the rain. I took myself out of a lonely, anxious pit of self-despair. Slowly, I learned how to take care of myself and be my own person without relying on someone to do the caring for me.
In losing love that felt so definite to me, I was left feeling unworthy of any love at all.
Yet I’m grateful for that loss. Because it led me to find the love I should’ve been giving myself all along.