I was sixteen when I fell in love for the first time – or at least, I thought I had. We were childhood sweethearts; spent our first date and the many after in Mr Tucker’s detention room at lunch break, drawing on pen tattoos and painting each other’s nails with tippex. I was sure we were going places; I just didn’t know where. Unfortunately, my teenage romance couldn’t prevail past the school gates and it ended as quickly as it had started. I cried and locked myself away in my bedroom listening to Slipknot and swore I was off guys for life. But the reality is, it took merely a month before I was over him and it turns out I wasn’t in love at all.
There were other guys after him. Quite a few guys after him but nobody that captured my heart or even much of my attention and while all my friends were busy falling in love for the first time, I was left feeling I was either too emotionally constipated to love someone or that worse, I was completely incapable of being loved. I was twenty-two when it finally happened and when love came, it came hard and fast, strikingly overpowering – making me feel things I didn’t even know I was capable of feeling. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I’d found the first person I’d fallen in love with.
It wasn’t your typical romance. At twenty-three years older, his eldest son stood just three years younger than myself and the noticably big age gap put us up against discrimination from outsiders and more importantly, his forward parents who were already unimpressed with his choice of partner. While they donned designer gear, mansion homes with heated swimming pools and owned more businesses than I could count, I sat at home cleaning up baby vomit from my little ones in my two-bed semi housing association home.
To everyone on the outside – we were an unlikely match and to his proud parents, I was the gold-digger. The truth was, I didn’t care for his full wallet. Even if he’d had lost every penny he had, I’d have still wanted him for him. Meeting Carl* became part of my development as a woman and while I learned things about myself through our growing relationship, I found genuine connections with emotions I hadn’t properly known before, like happiness and fulfilment. Talking about our possible future together showed me that was alright to dream and that occasionally, it’s good for the soul to build up high hopes and expectations. Our time together was nothing short of incredible . We laughed together, cried together and spent hours upon hours just getting to know one another better. There was never the time or space for boredom – we were effortlessly entwined and it was blissful. But Carl* also taught me one of life’s most valuable lessons:
Your first soul-mate isn’t always the person you spend your life with.
And so I believe you can have several soul-mates perhaps, through many different loves. Maybe even soul-mates you are never romantically involved with. I believe Carl* was one of mine even though our relationship ended two years ago when he walked away from us while I was sick. I’ll never forget how I felt when the brakes slammed hard on our love. Finally I felt something that defined the term “Broken Heart” to me, in a very real way. It took the longest time to convince myself I couldn’t feel the pieces of my heart shatter on the inside of my ribcage. There was no locking myself away in a bedroom this time – I kept myself busy but every place I went, I’d find reminders of him and what we had and it wouldn’t take long before the tears started. It was a process that happened several times over – remembering moments we had shared and recognising one of “our songs” on the radio. For the first three months after our break up, I am sure if he’d asked me back I’d have said yes but I loved him for another year after that.
It’s true what they say though – time is the greatest healer.
I’ve not only survived heartache and lived to tell the tale but I have fully moved on and my heart is full with a new love now. Falling in love for the second time has been different. We fell for each other in a different kind of way, our memories and experiences are individually special to just us and the connection we have with one another cannot be compared with anything I’ve known before. At first, I was cautious of falling in love again, keeping close guard of my heart but love, when it is right, is an emotion you can’t fight and opening the floodgates to my soul came all too easily.
So, am I over the first heartbreak? Yes, absolutely. It took time, but I have no doubt I got there in the end. Although I believe firmly that your first love (and maybe any love) will always hold a special place in your heart, it won’t always be the biggest part. I know this because my current love occupies the biggest space there. Of course, I’m not sure I ever want to go through heartache again – by choice, I’d remain blissfully happy and content within my present relationship.
But I do know this –
if the familiar feeling of heartbreak knocks upon my door in the future, I am resilient enough to survive it and so for that, I’m glad my heart’s been broken before.