You are the keeper of your magic
In the sixth grade I fell in love with a boy. He was a quarterback and a first basemen and so freaking adorable and he came to my birthday party and I almost passed out and then I loved him until I was 19. Before him I had a little girl crush, the kind where there is only one boy in our first grade class worthy of our love so all the girls pretend not to like him while we play M.A.S.H and secretly hope we get him for who we will marry (who invented this game anyway? It’s terrible). It is embarrassing really; my worth has been in the hands of various freckled, acne faced, immature boys my entire life. And ironically, unbeknownst to them, they held all of the power.
I have no idea why this started so early, why it lasted so long, why I thought love, or rather, external love was the answer, but I did.
So last month, when another, no longer acne-faced but now adorable, strong, funny, frustrating, successful, immature man departed my life in a not-so-welcomed exit, I had a choice to make: Let it break me, or let it be.
As a strong and independent woman I always want to err on the “let it be” side of things. But too many games of M.A.S.H and many teenage nights of rejection have led me to put my value in the eyes of the beholder. Unfortunately this strategy fails every time. The result is that when someone chooses to walk away, or things don’t work or a person doesn’t like you, you suddenly feel like you can’t cope and that they stole all of your magic.
And this time it was a lot harder to “let it be.” This time I had to squash all of the images I had in my mind of us getting married, of us buying a house and throwing paint on each other as we tried to be all DIY-like, and of us running through the streets of Japan attempting to speak Japanese and making amazing new friends. This time I had to tear off the strong grip his hands had on my heart, finger by finger, and hope that I wouldn’t lose too much of myself in the process.
What matters is what you value in yourself, in your choices, in your work, in the way you treat your family, in the way you are there for your friends, in the person that YOU decide you want to be.
But here is the secret they don’t tell you in grade school when you’re playing with your friends and stressing out about whether you are going to get a shack or a mansion: Your value does not come from the man you marry (or don’t marry for that matter). Whether the quarterback or the first basemen or the bratty eight-year-old likes you doesn’t really matter.
What matters is how much you like yourself. What matters is what you value in yourself, in your choices, in your work, in the way you treat your family, in the way you are there for your friends, in the person that YOU decide you want to be. You get to decide mansion or shack, you get to decide Johnny or Billy, and you are the keeper of your magic.
So I am handling this heartache a little differently. It was an adult breakup. The strangest thing about adult breakups is that they are less messy and really quite simple. I love you, but this isn’t working. I love you but we don’t want the same things. I love you but you don’t want a family and so on. So the love sticks, it sits in the pit of your stomach and in the reflection in the mirror and in the phone no longer ringing and in the nights you have to eat Chinese takeout alone and wish he was there to eat the salad rolls because you hate them but order them in an attempt to be healthy.
I finally realized that my value is defined by me, that he does not hold the power, that love is just a bonus to this wonderful independent life I was gifted.
And it sucks. I am sad. I miss him. But I am also thankful for the things he taught me and for the nights he held me like no one has before while I cried my eyes out because I missed my mom so much I couldn’t breathe and the way he slowed down his running pace so we could run together and the inside jokes and the lazy Sunday cuddles. It’s true, I sometimes wish he was here and that it had worked out and that we were enough for each other. But, because I finally realized that my value is defined by me, that he does not hold the power, that love is just a bonus to this wonderful independent life I was gifted, I can let it be.
I can wake up in the morning and say, I love you; you are strong, you are smart, you are funny, you are a great companion, you can do anything you set your mind to, you are a loyal friend and you are worthy of love. And then for dinner I call up a new Chinese restaurant and I order the spring rolls because obviously they are way better than the salad rolls and I hate wasting food and eating alone isn’t so bad especially when you realize how much you enjoy your own company. I move on, I stop looking back, and I laugh at the idea that I ever thought a freckle-faced boy was the keeper of my magic.