Not all love is forever – and that’s okay.

Maybe I’m the last person who should be writing about this, since I’ve never had a romantic relationship last over 2 years, but I’ve loved enough to know that not all love is meant to be forever. I am someone who loves very openly and very easily, I feel love the same way that I feel everything else – so deeply it overcomes me. As an empath, I feel other people’s emotions as if they’re my own. I absorb them and somehow subconsciously take responsibility for them. Everything I feel, I feel deeply in my soul. This can be a blessing, as it makes me very in tune to other people’s emotions, and it can be a curse, as it is difficult to learn how not to take these emotions on as my own. I believe that a lot of my negative emotions growing up as a child were caused by the negative emotions that others around me were feeling, I absorbed them and as a child had no idea where they were coming from or what to do with them causing me great distress.

I remember my first love, and heartbreak. I thought it would be forever, and when it wasn’t, I thought I’d never love again. But I did love again – many times in fact. And all but one time that I’ve loved, I’ve left with more than I came in with. I don’t mean that in the physical, materialistic sense of the word ‘more’, but in life, knowledge, understanding of one’s self. And sometimes, I have even left full of gratitude.

I used to feel ashamed that I’d never had a ‘long term’ relationship. Until I had one, in which was only long-term because I allowed myself to be manipulated into staying far longer than I should have. That’s okay, because I learned from it. I got out before I got married or got pregnant or purchased a home. I got out, and I took the time and I found myself once again. Stronger, more resilient, and less easily manipulated.

They say you can’t help who you fall in love with. Maybe this is true, but I do believe you can in some ways control who you stay in love with. Some areas of love are all feelings and emotions, but I do believe that the long-lasting love, the kind of love that survives job losses, relocations, miscarriages, babies, financial crisis, and all of life’s chaos and conflict, is the type of love that is conscious. It’s intentional. It’s two people who have made a choice to love each other. It’s two people who recognize the other’s love languages and each make an effort to give and receive love in the way that the other needs. It’s two people who have made a conscious choice to love the other, support the other, and most importantly respect the other. They understand that there will be turmoil, that there will be disagreements, that there will be hurt, that both individuals will make mistakes. This couple understands and accepts that these are all part of life – that to be together sacrifices must be made, compromises need to be shared, and that forgiveness and patience are regular acts in a successful relationship.

Not all love is meant to be forever. And that’s okay. Some love is meant to teach you what you really want in life, some is meant to teach you want you don’t want in life. Some love is there to support you through a rough patch, some is meant for you to support your partner through something of their own. I believe that some love comes into your life simply to teach you how to love, how to be loved in new and different ways, how to accept and welcome love into your life, and to teach you that you are worthy. Worthy of love, worthy of respect, worthy of sacrifice.

I recently went through the best 6-month relationship of my life followed by the best breakup of my life. I dated someone who I have been friends with in varying degrees of closeness for 13 years. In some ways being friends for so long first created an ease in our relationship, and in other ways it created a greater vulnerability for me, allowing someone who was already so important to me that much deeper into my heart and my soul. The risk was higher than any other relationship in that the loss of his friendship would devastate me if it failed. Not to mention that I’d have to face our mutual friends with yet another failed relationship, forcing both of us to face our shortcomings in a new light.

The risk was well worth the reward.

Some relationships are not meant to be forever. And this was one of them. And that’s okay. I left with more than I went in with, I’d like to think we both did. I like to think that this particular love worked out the way it did because we were meant to date for a short time to learn from each other and support each other. So that I could show him love in a way that no one else had, and to show him that he is worthy, and that any of his self-deprecating thoughts that we all battle, are lies. And in exchange he was meant to date me to support me through a very difficult transition of being unwell, trying new treatments that made me sicker than ever, and to remind me that I’m not alone. When it came to its natural ending point I don’t think anything could have gone better. We left better friends than we started as, we continue to teach each other to love and be loved, continue to support each other, and most importantly we never wavered in our respect for each other. This is the type of love that although may not be romantic love, will never die.

What if you could leave every relationship you have with more than you went in with? I left this relationship with a full heart of love and a soul full of gratitude, and most importantly, an incredible friend.

Next time you love, consider treating the person the way you would a campsite – leave it in better shape than you found it. And remember, you can never love too much or too kindly – especially if that love is towards yourself.

An open apology to my elementary school bully.

I don’t know why I thought of you today, but sometimes at random you pop into my head. When this happens I don’t think of you with anger or fear or hate, I think of you with sympathy and with sadness. Sadness not for me, not for the several other people I witnessed you bully throughout our elementary and highschool years, but sadness for you.

It was grade 3 when we first were placed in the same class, out in the portables of our little elementary school, and that’s when I remember the bullying beginning. Three years in a row the school placed us together. I remember dreading it and questioning why anyone would force me to endure yet another year of your taunting, negative presence. Then, at the tender, young year of grade 5, I remember the school threatening to expel you if the bullying didn’t stop, and I don’t think I was ever placed in your class again until highschool.

First I want to thank you, because although I understand and respect that this is not everybody’s case with their school bully, your behaviour helped me learn how to stand up for myself – and by highschool I revelled in it. I would witness you bullying others and would jump at the opportunity to stand up for them. As far as I was concerned, you were simply a mean person and I had no patience for it. Even the teachers would conveniently turn away as I called you out in the middle of class, in front of everybody, for bullying another student, then they would catch my eye and smile, or wink.

Years later, teachers would ask my mom if I ever ran into you anymore, happy, when they heard that I did, and that I was still standing up to you.

What I wonder now as an adult so many years later is, who taught you to be a bully in the first place? While you were being punished at school and probably at home for your behaviour, was anybody kind to you? Did anybody ask you, not why, but what needs you had that were not being filled? When your mother apologised to me for your actions, did she take the time to learn what was happening in your young mind and body to cause you to be that way towards other students?

At your young age of grade 3, did anybody in your life create a safe space for you? Space for you to heal whatever you were battling in your little body that caused you to act the way you did?

Based on my interactions with you before I left DSS 7 years later in grade 10, I suspect that no one did, and for this, I am sorry.

I am sorry that I never saw it from the other side. I never slowed down and offered you kindness. I never offered you understanding, I never offered you love.

My wish for you now, as an adult, is that you will create space for healing for yourself – maybe you already have. That you will create space in your life to accept love, and to give love to others. That you will not let the cycle continue through to your children – that you will offer them whatever your young soul was needing but didn’t know how to ask for.