by Rebecca Carvalho
I cried a LOT during my teen years. My God, my heart was so broken at 17 by the agony I put myself through — two parts stress from the idea that I would never get into a good college, and one part boys. More specifically, the boy who had no idea I existed to the ones in bands that I chased half-way across New Jersey to crappy venues. I was a sobbing, stressed, angry, hormonal slew stuck in my body, unsure of the future. Then came my first heartbreak — ah, what a sting. We broke up on AIM and I cried for the entire night while listening to This Providence. It was ugly.
I don’t regret crying. I believe it to be one of the most cleansing things human beings can do (and are encouraged to avoid). In my twenties, I shed even more tears over my first, grown up relationship, and acknowledged adulthood for the first time since graduating college. The relationships prior to this were so Minor Leagues. When you turn about 23 you hit the Major Leagues of relationships. Mix tapes and movie dates are suddenly swapped with getting a drink and this palpable pressure to commit. You still get to scream, “Haha, you’re it!” in someone’s face, but this time it’s supposed to be a long-term deal.
I met my first Major League Heartbreak with a capital H on Tinder. Immediately, I knew that this was going to be someone who changed my life, and I had no idea which way it would go — would we hate each other one day? For the first time I was afraid — of love, of commitment, and of loss.
Within months, things progressed fast, and hard. We moved in together, and I came home to a house with him in it. Home went from the comforts of my childhood to the comforts of his bed or, rather, our bed. I brought him over for Thanksgiving, and we met each other’s families. There were moments of care when one of us was sick, and plenty of anxiety induced talk-downs in the middle of the night. His arms wrapped tightly around me helped me sleep without a troubling thought.
Soon, the realization that we had moved too quickly set in. I hadn’t forgiven his mistakes, or my own. He had given his best, and I can firmly say I gave mine. The exceptional amount of growth I experienced in those short months has helped mold me, and I’m grateful. I thought growing pains ended after I was rudely told that 5’5″ was “all I was going to get” by a nurse in high school.
After this intense breakup, I was upset, scared, and worried all over again. I was upset I pushed love away out of fear, and I was disappointed in myself for letting depression and other aspects of my life interfere with a shot at whatever romantic love is, or what I hoped it would be according to the image I had at 17. I’m on the other side of it now, where crying has subsided and forgiveness (on both ends) has taken its place. I now look at life differently because of that relationship — I explore patience over anger, and understanding over criticism. I think if I had worried less about finding the perfect partner and cared less about what expectations others had for my relationship, things would’ve turned out differently. I do know that whoever I get to be with next will at least get this version of me, one that still has some growing up to do, but doesn’t live in fear of the growing pains.