What My Exes Have Taught Me About Love.

love and loss

I’ve been burned boy, have I been burned. But, if we’re being honest, I’ve burned, too.

Maybe not as bad as I’ve been burned, but I did the burning. Pain isn’t a competition, though. And, well, if you only focus on the pain, you don’t have much to live for — or love for. But, we’ll get to that.

You know you’ve been burned, too. The first cut is the deepest. Isn’t that what they sing? Heck no. Every single cut is the deepest. It gets easier. Nope, it gets harder. You love and you love and you love until you hope you can get it right. You search and you search. You fight and you fight. You do your best over and over again. You fail over and over again. Some days, love is more than a battlefield. Love is the devil’s playground. Love is where you go to get tortured, right? It’s just that bad.

But within all the hell, you find your shine. You find your glory, your reason, and your truth. Eva Longoria once said in an interview that she chose to remember the love and not the loss when her marriage fell apart. Her words stuck with me just like my favorite memories stick with me, just like my to-do list sticks with me, and well, just like every ex sticks with me in some way.

Ex. That elephant in the room type-of-word. That forbidden word. I can’t tell you how many so-called friends told me to stop talking about exes. Told me that they’re an ex for a reason and to close the book. I also can’t tell you how dismissive that is — not to your ex, but to yourself.

The people you are closest to, most likely those you are in a relationship with, have a way of shaping you. They have a way of adding value to your life in some ways. I’m speaking for myself, but, once I followed Eva’s advice, I could truly find contentment. But, even before beautiful Eva preached to me and the world, I found my own voice.

When I was 18, I suffered one of my first heartbreaks. I learned, shortly after, that if you truly love someone, you just want them to be okay no matter what. Think about it: If you love this person so much and you feel like you can’t breathe without them (they are a person and yes, you certainly can and you will) and they are okay — then you are okay, right? The person I love is good, so I’m good. Sounds simple, right? Well, that simplicity is more than that… because it gave me a mountain of peace.

I look back on the character I’ve built from each ex who was a part of my life and see the person they helped me become because each and every one of them contributed something positive to who I am today. I look back at the memories. The laughs. The experiences. The families. And, well, I see a life lived. I don’t see regrets. I see lessons learned. I see joy. I see some who perhaps needed me more than I needed them. I see some who gave me strength that I still carry with me eight years later. I see others who have taught me to live every day in the absolute moment. I see a best friend made in the mix. I see so much more. Again, too, I just see a life lived… my life lived.

So, don’t be so quick to dismiss your past. Don’t be so quick to never look back on a chapter turned or pages turned. Of course, you want to move forward in life. But, sometimes, it’s okay to look back and smile. To hell with the whole “never look back” thing. I look back and I choose to smile. I hope you can, too. Sometimes, it’s okay to look back and see all the shine you had. And sometimes, it’s okay to still love. Yes, still love. Love doesn’t have to end when new love begins, either.

To me, true love never dies. If love dies, then it was never really love. I think the capacity in which you love changes because the dynamics of a relationship change, but it’s okay to always love someone. I think you’re supposed to. It’s okay to hold onto a piece of someone who you once saw yourself making a life with. I think it’s okay to love from a distance. I think it’s okay to do what Eva Longoria says and “remember the love and not the loss.”

Don’t empty your cup of life, including your past. You lived that life. It’s yours. Carry it with you because it makes you who you are.

This story originally appeared on felicianaoum.com

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