what love isn’t.

When you get your heart broken, if you’re anything like me, you want to figure out what you did wrong immediately in order to make sure none of these same shards of heartbreak ever cut you again. I’ve gone back and analyzed every word, every argument; and every hidden meaning I thought might be intertwined within a goodnight text.
It’s human nature to want to protect ourselves, our future, and our fragile hearts. I’ve learned to give myself grace and patience in this.

When heartbreak hits, I scour my path and try to identify every single time I may have painted a red flag green so that I can be on the lookout for blaring red flags the next time around.

The next time around.

It’s so nice to be able to say that.

If you’re anything like me, “the next time around” feels impossible when heartbreak first hits. It feels like there will never or could never be another; it feels like the pain isn’t worth trying again.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that it’s always worth it to try again. Especially for love.

I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my life, and it’s given me many perspective shifts in the things I am looking for in the person I want to spend my life with. I think the more we experience, the more loss we encounter, the more grief we are forced to navigate, the more we start to realize just what it is we need in a companion. We begin to refine our wants and our needs as well as the characteristics we are willing and able to give.

The things we thought we wanted change and things that never even crossed our minds suddenly make their way to the forefronts of our checklists.

Soon after my most recent heartbreak, I vividly remember sitting down with a best friend’s mom who has become a second mom to me over the years, and as we chatted I started talking about the lessons I’ve learned and the things I’ll do differently “with my future husband.” I talked about how lucky I felt that I was getting a second chance at love that a lot of people never get. Her eyes got glossy and she pulled me in close. She told me how happy she was to hear that I hadn’t been hardened by what I was experiencing and that I still had hope for the future love that I’ve spent what feels like my whole life looking for.

If there’s one piece of advice I could give you after experiencing all of the loss and heartbreak I’ve experienced, it would be this: please don’t lose hope. Please don’t allow the actions or choices or words of another impact your belief that true, pure, honest love still exists. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own situations, and like a raging current, we are pulled from the shore and all we can feel is drowning. There is grace in allowing yourself to float for a little while and gaze up at the stars. There is healing in taking a moment to feel how small we are in this big ocean that has swallowed us whole. But there is true, honest strength in finding the courage to kick you legs with all your might and fight for the things you know in your heart to be true.

Love is one of those things.

I still believe in a forever love, probably even more than I ever did before.

I think it took learning the hard way all of the things love isn’t for me to truly understand what love is.

Love isn’t always grand gestures and looking good on the outside. Love is the quiet patience and soft place to land that feels good on the inside even when the outside fails. Love isn’t always right; it’s the safety in knowing it’s okay to be wrong. Love isn’t the view from the top, it’s the climb and stories and stolen kisses it took to get there. Love isn’t always going to be steady ground and certain answers, but I can tell you this: love is the constant choice to show up anyway. It’s the understanding that when the going gets tough, you’re better together than you could ever be apart. Love is so many things, but we often get lost on paths that don’t matter along the way.

I can’t tell you right now that I know all of the things that love is, but I’m learning.

I can; however, tell you that I’ve learned the hard way all of the things that love is not.

And that lesson alone has made all the difference.

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