It’s been quite some time since I experienced romantic love. The type of love that cocooned me into a feeling of peace that I never wanted to end. To feel understood by someone else. To give anything to see the other person smile.

You get it – I won’t wax poetic about love. Shakespeare and Neruda did enough of that for all of us.

Love has been on my mind. I unearthed some memories from the past whilst going through some childhood tokens and reading through my 7th grade diary has me ruminating about the past as well as the future.

My 7th grade self was self-consumed with wanting things to be perfect or chasing after school crushes because I wanted their approval and to just feel seen. Looking back, that consuming feeling of wanting to feel seen caused a lot of turmoil in my 20’s.

I found love in my 20s. I found lust. I found it with those who promised me so many sweet futures, but I was never wanted fully – it was always wrong. I felt seen for all the wrong reasons. Exposed.

However, the euphoria of feeling seen even for a just a moment of two was worth it for me during those years. I was enveloped in a pattern I could not break. The toxic cycles and symptoms kept running through me like water.

I lost myself and was stripped of my dignity and pride.

I broke this cycle once I started dating someone who threatened to hit me if I ever brought up a certain topic again. I was simply making conversation and had never seen someone anger so quickly; yet, they said it such a calm way as though they were reading off items from a restaurant menu.

I woke up to a dangerous reality that I had to break a toxic cycle or become someone who I would no longer recognize.

It has been over two years since I have dated anyone. I replaced dating with therapy, a meditation practice and piles of books it will take me years to read.

Love was a helluva drug for me for so, so long. I grew up witnessing unhealthy, toxic relationships and fell into patterns where I believed love had to hurt all the time. Sifting through all these memories has only reminded me that love is not hurtful, abusive or manipulative. I wish I could go back and hug the person I was a few short years ago and let them know that it does get better. A fucking cliche, but it is true.

I have deleted (almost) all memories from my dating past from their digital library. I am opening a new chapter. A chapter where I can move forward and not feel trapped by those people, memories who made me feel like I was second best or like nothing at all.

I don’t want to feel like nothing – I want to feel everything. I want to soak in the goodness I see from a stranger’s smile. I want to fly across the country to visit the woman I have been falling for and see if it means anything at all. I want to look up at the night sky and smile because another day has fully bloomed.

I want to continue blooming – even amongst the dirt and chaos around me.


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