the things I learned from spending my twenties either in love or heartbroken

People say that your twenties are for figuring shit out, and usually the hard way. I had serious plans when I turned twenty but reality laughed in my face, long and loud. I have friends that took the entire decade to finish school. I have friends that worked their asses off and traveled the world. Most of my friends got married and had kids and some are even on their second divorce. I, on the other hand, can sum up my twenties easily. “In love or heartbroken.” I have been either in a long term relationship or recovering from one for the last eight years and as miserable as that sounds, I believe it hasn’t been in vain.

I’ve learned many lessons from being in this predicament. How about, for example, not everything is about you. I use to think everything was about me, and not so much in the way that I should be the center of attention, but in the way that everyone’s actions around me was a reaction to something I did or didn’t do. I naively believed that I had so more control over the outcomes of situations than I really did. In short, sometimes when people cheat, it’s nothing that you did. Sometimes when it’s over, there’s nothing more you could have said. You could be born to be a girlfriend and do everything right for somebody, but they could still be a lying, stealing, cheat, with a double life. They could be a a sociopath from a sociopathic family. They could have commitment issues that tear them up inside. Sometimes it’s not anything about you, and everything about them, and that’s just the way it is.

I also learned that we all have our “truth” and our truth changes. I use to think that if someone gave their word, that they loved you and would never leave, that they could then never stop loving you and definitely could never leave. Somebody can love you, right here and now, and feel like they want to spend the rest of their life with you, and this can be their truth, they can mean it with everything they are… but it can all change next week. Don’t seek promises that are not realistic to be kept and do not make people recite reassurances for security. You don’t actually want somebody to tell you that they can’t live without you, that is not a healthy ground to build a foundation on!

Being heartbroken has taught me that quitting someone cold turkey is always best. At the end of two long term relationships, my final words were my final words. I never acted on weak moments. I changed my phone number, I blocked their emails, I never called, texted, drove by, or even entered a town I thought I’d run into them in. Of course I had some really tough moments, but I promised myself that I would not jeopardize my healing process or do anything to set me back. For this I was able to heal and move on much easier.

I learned that the most annoying motto is true. Time heals everything. Only I have an addition to this; Time and acceptance heal everything. Time must pass through happiness and time must pass through grief. Acceptance for people being who they are and situations being what they are is the key to life. Just as it is important to accept the hardships, it is equally as important to accept love back in your life when the time and person is right. Don’t ever punish yourself by not allowing new relationships to flourish.

And yet another aphorism that is true, but a tough pill to swallow is that blood is thicker than water. What does this have to do with relationships? Everything. When you spend years with someone you don’t invest in only a relationship with them, but also in relationships with their family and friends. You develop a temporary family. It’s going to break your heart sometimes worse than your lover when the relationship is over and you suddenly lose all these people too. What we must never forget it that it is not your family. It is their family. No matter how loved and cherished you are, no matter how they joke that you are always welcome even if you someday have to leave his stupid butt, when shit hits the fan they are no longer yours. Even if they are there for a little while after, no matter how wrong the other person was, that is their family and they will always stick together. We are only the variable in this experiment.

All of that makes it sound as if I’ve had a pretty depressing decade, doesn’t it? Well truly, it wasn’t depressing at all. Even in light of the worst days I can say that I spent my time exactly as I was meant to. I love love. I am sure that no matter how many heartaches I go through, I will always fall in love again. Each time it gets better as I get wiser, and each time I love harder than the last. I love giving relationship advice to my friends, and I am honestly shocked and flattered that so many people seek it given my failures. I realize now that it’s because they weren’t failures after all. I had many experiences just as those who traveled, studied, and raised children. I loved. To that, I congratulate each and every one of you that can relate to these experiences. To love and love and love again, cheers.

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More about Erika Lauren

Erika Lauren is a Boston born French girl spending her days as a workin girl and dog mom, and her nights as a nocturnal writer. She's a content creator for The Haute Mess, XOJane, and Email:

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