As the semester begins to wind down and graduation continues to creep up behind me faster than I'd care to admit, I have recently been getting hit with waves of nostalgia--my least favorite thing.
I hate nostalgia, because I always find myself wishing for that old stage of life back. But that's the thing...
It's the past. I've out grown it. I've learned what I needed to and am now better equipped for my future. I have overcome negative things from my past and should be celebrating that I don't have to relive them again.
But yet, I still find myself wanting to hold on a little longer.
I don't feel this way often, but when I do, it is powerful. You hear "Hard to Love" by Lee Brice play on the radio in your friend's car and you are instantly sucked back to the memory of your old boyfriend singing it to you in his kitchen that late summer day you guys got back together...for the third time. You suddenly somehow cannot remember any of the pain felt and the tears shed during the last four years of the emotional rollercoaster you can call my relationship with my neighbor from across the street.
Sad memories are powerful, but sweet memories move mountains.
Now don't get me wrong, I will forever cherish my relationship and still am able to think very highly of him. He is an amazing Godly guy with the capacity to do such great things with his life. He is just lost right now.
And that is what so many people have told me.
"You are young, you'll find your way back together." "Boys just need time to mature." "Maybe time apart will help." "Oh, you for sure will end up getting married! I am betting on it!"
These are things people have said to me AFTER we have broken up. As someone who is notorious for not letting go very easily, these things are very dangerous for me to hear. I used to cling to those words, holding out for hope (but convinced myself that I was totally over him and didn't even care that he was dating someone else with a nearly identical name to mine), and that it was part of God's plan to one day reunite the two across the street neighbors on Bluejay St.
Doesn't that sound like how the ending should be? Best friends since we were three years old, neighbors, high school sweethearts, cross country long-distance lovers, he goes over to my house to hang out with my mom even when I'm not there. Marriage. Babies. Die old together. Party in Heaven. Hollywood would eat that shiz UP and produce the next big rom com--if only this were a movie.
If this were a movie, the long distance that broke us up so many times would have only served as the conflict needed to make the plot line interesting, in order to make the audience feel like we deserved the expected happy ending. The long distance would not have been utilized as the excuse that both of us used for the reason why things didn't work out, instead of addressing all our individual problems that manifested in our relationship in unhealthy ways.
If this were a movie, then when he embarked on his two-month road trip of self-discovery and showed up in Tallahassee, Florida this past October to confess his love for me and to show me that he has changed, he would have meant it. It wouldn't have come from a deep hole inside him that he was trying to fill with the comfort that came with dating me.
If this were a movie, when I returned home for winter break this past year, I wouldn't have left crying, having found out that he was already interested in and talking with another girl before he even ended things with me. I wouldn't have had to block him on every form of social media, to avoid seeing him post pictures of his new girlfriend mere days after our relationship ended.
If this were a movie, the plane ticket that he bought to come to my graduation would have been used as his last attempt to win me back by making some huge, romantic gesture during the last 5 minutes of the film and everything ends happily ever after.
Spoiler alert. This is NOT a movie. The last situation I mentioned did not happen, but the rest of them did. And it hurt. It hurts to relive them and write them all down for you to read.
You may be thinking of how much of a jerk he sounds like or how sensitive and woe-is-me I sound. You may have noticed that I have not mentioned any of the good. The truth is, the good is just too good. Does that make sense? Like the good is so good that it lets me forget about the bad and fall into this fantastical thinking that life IS a movie and the last situation I mentioned MAY happen and everything will be sunshine.
I don't want to think about how eighteen years of friendship can make you feel so known that you are afraid that no one will ever be able to know you so deeply and so well. I don't want to think about the time he ran after me as I was walking into swim practice in high school just to give me a quick hug and kiss and tell me he loved me, or how he would leave notes on my car almost every day, or pretended to not like tomatoes just because I didn't, or how he would always hold my hand in the car, or how he once played his guitar over Skype to serenade me to sleep. Or that really funny time that he put my 21st birthday bright purple wig on and danced to Strip It Down all over my room (one of my top favorite memories for sure). I don't want to remember how hard-working, protective, kind, loving, smart, easy-going, and talented he is. He can relate to and unite so many different types of people, and he isn't even an extrovert. He would do things that he didn't want to do (like go on long hikes, watch the movies that I wanted to watch, go to prom, eat my healthy, not Carl's Jr food) just because I did. He tries his best in everything he does (especially his job and surfing) and it makes others want to follow in his footsteps. He loves to help people. He loves Jesus and truly wants to be better.
But he is just lost.
And the worst thing is that I cannot do anything about.
One of my favorite authors, Don Miller, once said that one healthy person and an unhealthy person cannot make for a healthy relationship. I am not trying to say that I was the healthy one and he wasn't (because I have been made very well aware of my flaws and that I contributed to our demise as well), but it just shows that one person cannot hold the weight of what the whole team was designed to lift.
So the real question is: why do so many people (including myself) stay in these unhealthy relationships?
Or, better question, why do we get nostalgic and want them back?
This is when people say, "we accept the love that we think we deserve," but I don't think that is very true at all. I don't think that I deserve a love that is so wishy washy, filled with emotional cheating and turmoil!! Never in a million years! But, we are told to lower our expectations and that love isn't like the movies, so we end up settling for less.
At least that is what I did.
When he got down on one knee on a February morning our senior year of high school in the middle of Bluejay Street (just wait, it gets more cringe-y), with a picture of a diamond ring on his phone, promising to propose to me for real after we conquered four years of long distance, I accepted that as my future. I was so certain that I was going to marry him and that nothing could ever break us apart. I thought I was the one lucky person who did find a love like the movies, and somehow, I beat the system.
But then reality came with the stinging words:
“I just don’t think we will ever work out.”
He smiled, almost even started to laugh, and proceeded to tell me how he thinks we could still be friends, like Nick and Jess in New Girl.
A TV show.
Not real life.
(also spoiler*** he clearly has not seen the last season, because Nick and Jess end up getting married)
And that was the moment that broke me for good. This was not the first time he had broken up with me, but it certainly will be the last. It was in fact the fifth time we have ended things between us (five times too many, if you ask me). I am embarrassed how long it took me to finally realize that what I wanted was not what was good for me.
After much painful reflection, I realized that we keep going back to things of our past, because it is familiar. Comfortable. Known.
There is no fear of the unknown, because we already know what to expect and what the outcome will be. Even though, we know deep inside, that the outcome will bring pain.
So much of our lives are spent seeking comfort. It is in our DNA as a survival mechanism. It is what keeps us physically alive, but in reality, is killing us inside. As one of my favorite quotes goes:
If you’re comfortable, then you’re not growing.
Growth can only occur when you are out of your comfort zone. JOY happens outside of your comfort zone.
Following Jesus is one of the most uncomfortable and crazy things that you could ever do. Skydiving is exhilarating, speaking in front of a lecture hall is terrifying, but letting go of all control and giving your whole life up to Jesus is freaking nuts.
And scary as hell.
But if I have learned anything in college, it has been that I do not want to move forward without God by my side. As the song goes:
Take the whole world, but give me Jesus. Let all else fade away
So simple, yet so hard to do. There are few things more terrifying than willingly giving up all control in your life. But, it is the most freeing thing you could ever do.
I was bound by anger for over a year, and I had no idea. I felt cheated by God. I was frustrated that I gave my whole heart to the person I loved most, yet ended up being the one that got my heart broken. I know it is not fair of me to say that he didn’t suffer at all in the relationship (because I now know that is probably not true), but walking away from this past winter break, all I saw was that he got a brand-new puppy and girlfriend and was living large. I felt cheated and robbed of my time, love, money, promises, trust, excitement for moving home, memories, and loyalty. And so, anger continued to rule my heart. I would have overwhelming thoughts of how unfair everything was and how God owed me a better outcome. I deserved answers, but I got none. I got none from him and none from God.
Until one day.
I did not hear an audible voice, nor did I really realize this all at once. But one day, I finally felt at peace. One of the questions that I kept mulling over in my head was why the hell God would allow him to come back into my life, after being broken up for over a year, just to hurt me all over again. If God promised to protect my heart, why did He let me get hurt more than ever before?
The truth is, I idolized the relationship. I never thought I did, but I have to admit it to you and to myself. Our relationship was at the forefront of my brain. And all during that season of heart break, I was begging on my hands and knees for God to relieve me of this pain and help me move on for good. I prayed for answers and peace and felt none. And then Kent came back into my life, and I got everything I ever wanted. He came to Tallahassee, he wanted me back, he talked about wanting to marry me. Everything I unconsciously wanted. Then, he took it all back. Just like that, in the span of (from my point of view) 24 hours, he flipped a switch and decided that the future scared him, and he was done. And, like I mentioned before,
It broke me.
That is what I needed to move on. For God to dethrone your idols, sometimes He needs to create such a distaste for your idols that you make the decision to not want them to rule over your life anymore.
And that is exactly what happened. I decided that day over winter break that I was done for good. And that was the day Jesus began to take back his rightful place as King of my heart.
This is still an ongoing process. There are still days where I think back to my old relationship and wish I could hear his hilarious laugh one more time or be able to hug him and have his chin gently rest on my head, since we fit perfectly together. And since I am being brutally honest to you, I have to admit that there is a really small voice inside of me that is currently thinking
Maybe, just maybe, things will still work out.
I have come to accept that I will never fully be over the death of the relationship. It has taught me way too much and has shaped me into the women that I am becoming.
And I am forever grateful.
I am okay with not being 100% moved on, because no one ever can be.
What I am not okay with is seeking comfort over discomfort. I am publicly sharing my past pain, because I am no longer accepting living a comfortable life. I was not created to thrive in an easy life.
You weren’t either.
Do something that terrifies you and you will never regret it. The most effective way to overcome a phobia is through exposure. Be vulnerable, quit the job you hate, open up to love again, have the hard conversation, start the business, beat the mental illness.
Do something scary.
And do it big.
Life wasn’t meant to be easy, so don’t settle for anything less that terrifying. For when you do, you will begin to reap unimaginable benefits when you learn to just let go of your life and
LIVE IN DISCOMFORT