A good friend of mine wrote me, and I’m just glad he did.
It’s hard to keep loving when you had been strung along, ghosted, cheated on, and ghosted again — in that order, in a span of five years, more or less. But I did just that, anyway. And I was thankful to my good friend for the reminder.
I have always believed that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and better in more ways than one.
I would be lying if I said I had it easy. Being strung along sucked. Just when I thought everything was already going well after almost a year (or more) of putting up with commitment issues, the guy finally had the balls to tell me, “I think I’m not over my ex.” That was heartbreaking. In fact, I’d say too heartbreaking for my then young and fragile heart.
It took me a great deal of time and effort to get over that almost relationship, to open up again, to trust again, to love again. But I did and it was a wonderful feeling, as love should be.
The relationship wasn’t without fault. I wasn’t a perfect partner either, but I could say (loud and proud) that I was willing to put in the effort, as in any committed relationship. So when the cheating happened, it wasn’t just heartbreaking. It was soul-crushing.
The ghosting in-between wasn’t much of a painful experience. It could’ve been had I become even more attached and invested than I already was. But it stung just the same.
Keep loving, yeah? Easier said than done after a series of heartbreaks. I had to relearn it the hard way. And still relearning to this day, and constantly reminding myself to do just that. But first, I had to somehow redefine what keep loving meant to me, and here’s what I found.
Keep loving means believing you are capable of doing so even when it’s hard to — especially when it’s hardest to.
This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s well worth a try.
Looking back on my relationship and dating misadventures, it’s clear to me I was betrayed and taken advantage of. But I’d chosen love, anyway.
I never hated the guy who strung me along. But that didn’t mean I would be willing to put up with him any longer. I walked away and stayed away, keeping all the love (I thought) I had for him to myself. Of course I missed him, I missed his presence in my life. But my love was just too strong, it eventually hit me with the reality that he didn’t deserve it.
The case with my cheating ex was a lot worse, but I’d say it’s worth it. I believe I’ve become a far better person than I was before and during the relationship. I was yelled at, insulted, and gaslighted. But instead of getting mad, I made a conscious effort to understand more, care more, and love more. It’s never right and never okay — the yelling, insulting, gaslighting — but so is getting even. It’s not like I didn’t respect myself that I allowed and tolerated that kind of behavior. I knew I didn’t deserve it. It was actually out of self-respect that I decided to take the high road.
There was neither an admission of the cheating nor an apology, but I’d like to think I was discerning enough to know those weren’t necessary. The moment my ex looked me in the eye and said, “I’m not cheating on you,” when I knew what the truth was, it was heartless. I wasn’t and would never want to be.
So again, I walked away. My heart was shattered into pieces I didn’t even know to put back together. But I found comfort in knowing it was just awfully broken, not gone. It was severely damaged, but definitely not beyond repair. It could still keep loving.
The repair took a while as expected. It hurt putting together just too many bits of a broken heart. But I was hell-bent on making it whole again so I could keep loving, yet again.
Nothing worth having comes easy, and keep loving also means trusting the process.
There’s no need to rush. Keep loving and the world will love you back, but only if (and when) you’re ready for and open to love.
If you could give that much love to the wrong person, how much more when the right one comes along? There’s only one way to find out and that is to keep loving.