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  • Aria P., University of Guam

You cannot have a rainbow without rain: Lessons of healing and growth

I grew up in an environment where I was heavily guarded against the plights of the world by five older and protective siblings and other loving family members. However, I was still exposed to the hardships of relationships and the reality of how emotions--if not adequately handled--can breakdown even the strongest of people.

I made a pact with myself. If I fell in love and got into a relationship, I would not allow it to affect my career and the academic goals that I set for myself.

Although I am currently at the young age of 20 years and do not have all the wisdom of the world, heartbreak is not age-biased. Throughout this post, I will share my story of not just heartbreak but perseverance and resilience. I hope that anyone who might feel the same way will know that they are not alone and that they can heal and grow.

(The photo I include is one in which I felt truly happy for the first time in a long time.)

On February 29, 2016, I got into my first serious relationship with a guy I naively believed to be the one for me. From the get-go, I laid down rules for myself. If he ever cheated on me, it would be the end of the relationship. I had self-dignity for myself and would never allow such a thing to happen to me. At least that's what I thought.

At first, I enjoyed this young love; however, as time went on, I learned that people change, situations can be altered, and things do happen. To shorten the story, after a three and a half year relationship where I believed this bond was meant to be, he had different plans and eventually cheated on me. I was shocked and confused, to say the least, and this led me to do everything I said I would never do. This event was so significant for me because it was not only my first love and heartbreak but the first time I broke all of my morals for someone else. This, in turn, affected me academically, emotionally, and physically. Logically, I understood how he was hurting me and the injustice I was doing to myself by staying with him, but I did it anyway. I did everything I said I would never do because I underestimated the power of emotions and how easy it is to submit and be consumed by them.

Even before getting into a relationship, I understood the meaning and feeling of being abandoned and betrayed. My parents divorced when I was younger, and it did not end well. My mother was not in the right state of mind to raise us; fortunately, my father won custody of us, and we went to live with him and our grandmother. I grew up in a single-parent household with a little female guidance due to having sisters and being enrolled in programs such as Girl Scouts. From these experiences, I needed to develop a strong will and a sense of resilience to act as my armor, to fill in the missing pieces, and heal the cracks within me. I knew I needed to become emotionally strong to weather my constant struggles for love and acceptance, to continually fill in these unceasingly endless gaps created by the loss of my mom. As a direct result, I felt my experiences were the root cause as to why it became so hard for me to break away from my unhealthy relationship. As I craved for love, I also never wanted to be left again by someone I gave everything to.

However, this is not supposed to be a sad story, but a story of learning and personal growth. I was held by the chains of a toxic relationship. I withheld myself from wanting to love again, trust again, and be myself again because I thought by doing that, I was, in turn, betraying someone I cared about. I lost myself and thought that the pain would last forever, but through personal milestones and time, I was wrong. I allowed myself to grow, heal, and love. I allowed myself to realize I am young and can do what I want to do. Up until this point in my life, I thought I understood things and was resilient, but this situation made me reevaluate myself. Therefore, if you ever experience a similar case of cognitive dissonance with your morals, here is what I have learned that might be helpful to you.

First, you will never understand the intensity of heartbreak and betrayal until you go through it. It truly is a defining experience. Furthermore, if you have never gone through this experience and have a friend who is struggling, do your best to be patient. Secondly, everyone will tell you a specific timeframe when you should be okay, but that is entirely false. You can do the things that everyone says you need to do for self-growth and letting go; but in reality, healing and growth are all done on your own time and happen only when you decide that you, yourself, are ready, because each situation is different. Finally, with every loss comes the opportunity to grow and the ability to strengthen other relationships--not just romantically or with friends--but with yourself. Coming from a “people pleaser” like myself, it is not only fine but essential to choose yourself over others in situations like this. If you are hurting right now, it is because your experience was real. Therefore, live in the moment, breathe, and understand that you are not alone.

Returning to what we should all know, business is based upon relationships. Thus, let us all understand these experiences and apply these lessons to create even greater connections in all our future endeavors.

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