Breakups are tough. They aren’t all that tough when little is invested. But when there have been any seeds of hope or kindness sown into a relationship.. to see it grow for a time and then watch it pass away, it’s tough. I say this in the aftermath of a recent breakup of my own. But after all the final things have been said, after some time has passed and the emotions have settled down.. there comes a decision to do one of two things. The choice is one that is very difficult to discern at first and sometimes very hard to look at. But it comes with its own reward. What I refer to is simply honesty.
Typically during and after a breakup each side goes to its own friends and family with the version of what they saw and heard as the cause. But much like interviewing two winesses to the same auto accident, the versions of what happened are rarely in agreement. But in the end, after the initial furor is over and it becomes an old topic.. it is ourselves we must lie down to bed with. We can tell our friends and family, “It was all their fault.. I did all I could.”. If that is the truth then we sleep well, though with a pain in our heart over the loss. But when it is not true and, though we are not able to be honest with others, it would be our greatest crime against our own selves to believe our own mistruths.
Some people believe in ‘ying-yang’, ‘what goes around comes around’ or ‘you only reap what you sow’. Different expressions for much the same thing. In life we can’t steal two apples from a bag of a dozen.. lie to ourselves about taking them and then truly expect to find a dozen apples the next time we open the bag. There’s both a comfort and a warning in this.
Perhaps you’ve been in a relationship and truly did try to salvage it with your best efforts to give the type of love you hoped to receive in return. But instead your kindnesses were rewarded with harshness. Your giving was rewarded with unthankfulness or perhaps your encouragement was rewarded with criticism. Now, after the breakup you explain to your friends what happened and you go on in your life. Take comfort in knowing that when your love was put to the test that you did the best you could under difficult conditions. You didn’t return wrong for wrong.. you gave love even when love wasn’t given in return. There is no greater test of love than this. You may have failed at given times, but if your overall reserve was to remain a loving person to your mate.. you have done all that is humanly possible and being freed from such a bad situation is your freedom, not your loss.
However, should it happen to be that you were truly in the wrong and did not give the love in return that was given you, (and here I speak of relationships which are mutually enterred into.. not one-sided infatuations), then there is a warning in this whole ‘apple theory’. A person may spread their fabricated story and it may be beleived by their friends and family wholeheartedly. People have believed lies before, it is not uncommon. But eventually the topic of the week moves on to something else and a person is then left to live with themselves. By lying to ourselves we do ourself wrong in several areas.
First we live in fear that our friends will one day discover that what we said was a total fabrication. But this is only the beginning. For if we cannot sit down alone and in silent humility admit that certain areas of a failed relationship were our own fault.. then we sentence ourselves to continue in those faults and suffer from them again in the future. If we were overly-demanding, or critical, or whatever it may be.. by denying it is in us we only guarantee we will do the same thing in our next relationship. And it will produce the same results.
So what is it that causes all of us to be tempted with taking such a path of denial? It is nothing more or less than the oldest frailty of the human race… our pride. But even if we can’t admit our wrongdoing to our former lover, or to our closest friends, if we can’t be honest in even the slightest public way (which is a very sad thing indeed), then our final resolve should be to be honest with ourselves.
As I mentioned before, it may be that you were the person who truly did do all that could be done to patiently love and give in ways perhaps beyond what you had thought yourself possible. And when you have been only abused and criticised in return it is the most immediate reaction to feel cheated, hurt and angry. But as I mentioned with the stolen apples, let your consolation be that if someone has taken advantage of your kindnesses and then gone on to deny their part in it.. it is not you who was finally cheated. If they go on to spread lies about you and the relationship, console yourself in the truth and take only what blame is yours to bear. Nothing more, nothing less.
If virtue is its own reward then it is safe to say that vice is its own punishment. Do not allow yourself to think that there is something wrong or naive about wanting to have a love that gives outwardly to others. Do not allow yourself to be tempted with the cynical, hard approach to life that mutters, “All men are abusers.” or “All women are hard-hearted.” Do not sit and try to make sense of why your goodness was rewarded with scorn, for you will only weary yourself and embitter your own heart. Instead the very best thing you could do for yourself and your own sanity is to truly forgive that other person for their wrongdoing.. admit to any mistakes of your own and continue on with your life a little wiser for the experience.
Love, by definition, requires that we make ourselves vulnerable. Loving someone who loves us in return is the only thing I consider beautiful in this strange world of ours. But as it is said, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” True, we should choose our adventures with caution, but risk will always be a factor. Sometimes we get hurt or decieved, but if in the end we find someone who is of a same giving heart and takes joy in loving us as we do them… then the preservation of a kind heart will be its own reward.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.