I've always been a person that connected so much to other people's words – I mark up my books with
highlighters, scribble song lyrics in pages of my journal, and paste quotes on the walls of my bedroom. Sometimes, the only way to say something is through words that other people have already used.
When I opened up a word document to start this blog post, words courtesy of Augustus Waters flew into my head,
"I'm on a rollercoaster that only goes up, my friend."
I hadn't even thought of The Fault in Our Stars in weeks, not since I watched it on TV, and Augustus Waters still managed to stroll his fictional character jaunt into my mind.
High school is hard.
And I don't mean the classes (though sometimes those suck.) I don't mean getting up at 7 in the morning and working for what seems like forever on homework. I mean everything that comes with high school – the friendships, the extracurriculars, the confusion, the relationships, the peaks and the valleys. It's a hard time of life for any normal person to navigate.
And then you throw in a boyfriend. And not just any boyfriend, a college boyfriend.
And your world becomes even more royally screwed up than it was before. In a good way. In a way that you welcome and appreciate. Until it becomes screwed up in the way that feels never ending and heart-wrenching and you think, "How did I let this happen?"
And so there's Alex.
The first boy to actually ask me to be his girlfriend, the first boy to tell me he loved me, the first boy to make me feel incredibly alive and incredibly special.
There were days I spent with him that I wondered how it was possible that I got so lucky and by what chance did I get this boy into my life? It’s remarkable, honestly, how much effect other people have over you. How easily they can find a place in your life that feels permanent and right. There were days I was frustrated and that sometimes I didn’t agree with something he said or something he did. And that is and was 100% okay. The point of a relationship, whether you’re in high school, college, or you’re married, is not to get along with a person every single second of every single day and to agree with everything they say or do.
But I had found someone that called me beautiful, kissed my nose, and always asked how my day was. And that was enough.
While we were still together, I wrote a short timeline of all the important moments, one of which included:
“September 2, we stood outside my pickup after a day filled with time with both families and laughter and kisses. You looked at me, and I looked up at you and you said, “I love you,” for the first time. And I felt the biggest lump form in my stomach, because I thought,
“Thank God” and I thought, “How is this possible?” and I thought, “How will I ever be able to let this go?”
And I told you I loved you, too, and I meant it. And I meant that I love you as much and as best as I know how. And I meant that I love that you love me. And I meant that I feel so lucky to be able to love and be loved for the first time by a person like you: a person who is caring and kind and who makes me laugh and who loves his family and is strong-willed and supportive and who teases me and who makes it so easy to love him.”
And so, incidentally, we weren’t together long. But that doesn’t mean that our time together wasn’t important or that it didn’t impact me or change, at least a little bit, the way I think and the way I love. The entire time I’ve been writing this blog post, I’ve wondered how much was too much to share, and I’ve decided that being honest isn’t too much – it’s just enough.
Take it from me: it isn’t easy, especially for a 17-year-old girl, to be broken up with. It brings up an unending string of questions and feelings of inadequacy and
“Why was I not enough?”
And so, after he breaks up with you, you’ll stand in the middle of the road as one of your best friends holds you and listens to you cry and question everything.
And that’s okay.
And you’ll wonder what he’s doing and how he’s doing, and for me, you’ll hope that he’s good, not that he’s miserable. One thing I’ve never understood are girls who hate their ex-boyfriends based solely on the fact that he broke up with her – Alex isn’t a bad person or any less of a person because he broke up with me. He made a decision that was based on what was best for him and what he thinks is right. I can’t be mad about that.
But I can be sad about it. And I can struggle with it. And I can sit and think of all the good times we had, because those are what’s important.
This blog is supposed to be, mostly, about lasts and the countdown to the end of senior year. Unfortunately, this won’t be my last breakup. It’s actually my first real breakup. And that’s okay. I would be completely lying if I said I haven’t learned anything from this.
Just to prove my point, here’s a list of the things I’ve learned since I got broken up with:
· My friends are the most incredible people I could ever ask for
· My mom is actually the best mom in the world
· When you get dumped, previously mentioned mom will buy you flowers (this is not an excuse to get dumped more often)
· I didn’t need this boy to be happy
· I’m allowed to miss him
· Moose Tracks ice cream is by far the best
· Crying to Taylor Swift is 100% better than talking about your problems
· I don’t have to pretend to be okay, or to hate him, or that this didn’t affect me
· I’m going to be just fine
And so break-ups officially suck. And I’m fine and torn apart at the same time. But the words that appeared in my head when I opened this document are perfect:
“I’m on a rollercoaster that only goes up, my friend.”
Huzzah, Augustus Waters.
When I tried to start this post, I was blocked. I had no idea where to start. I asked Abby if my whole post could be:
Boyz are dumb.
But I knew this was unfair and untrue. I know some pretty incredible boys/men. We just tend to be a little biased about those boys who dump our daughters.
Ugh. That word. I can’t decide if we use that word because getting dumped is kind of a form of getting shit on. Or is it because you were dumped from a safe place, into a freefall of uncertainty and don’t know when or where you’ll land, and if the ground will be soft leaves, gravel, or a trampoline that springs you right back out there.
Just in case—better tuck and roll.
Abby started noticing something was up with Alex, but didn’t say anything to me at first because I was about to leave on a trip. I would be in San Francisco for five days. She didn’t want me to feel bad about going.
As moms, it is in our nature to feel guilty.
If I wasn’t feeling guilty about going, I would feel guilty about not feeling guilty about going.
Pajamas – check
Phone cord – check
5 outfits – check
5 days of guilt – check check
So I went. Knowing this could be coming, knowing I wouldn’t be there. Sure, connecting is easier these days with text, Facetime, and social media, but you can’t Facetime the popcorn and hot chocolate, or tweet a hug.
Instead, I went old school: I sent flowers.
A couple years ago, a certain idiot human of the male persuasion (who shall remain nameless – unless you message me, then I’ll totally tell you) said something so vile to Abby, she was devastated. I sent her flowers to cheer her up with a card that read:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
That is all
So this time, the card read:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Boys are dumb
Thank you to dumb boys everywhere for giving me comedic material.
But I digress.
When your kid is hurting, and not only is there nothing you can do, but even if there was, you are charged by the universe to keep your mitts off them (stupid bossy universe), it—well, to use a technical term—sucks.
I mean, sure, we could tell them they can’t date anyone because they could get hurt, or drive a car because they could get hurt, or play sports because they could get hurt, or use social media because they could get hurt, or leave the house…
You probably see where I’m going with this.
We let them do their thing, live their life. We know bad things will happen, knees will get skinned. Fenders will get bent. And hearts will be broken.
It’s a terrible system. And yet...
I recently saw one of my favorite authors speak—Glennon Doyle. She talked about this very thing. How when our kids are struggling with something—inthe fire—we have to know that sometimes it is their fire. Sometimes it is their hot loneliness to bear. We can’t put out the fire for them. We have to let that fire change them, let them adapt, pull themselves up, and grow.
Whose idea was this? I ask you.
But I know it works. I see these beautiful kids becoming empathetic, fully functioning adults, and I say,
And so they will have scars, just like we do. Scars get a bad rap. They sound scary and ugly, but if you look at a scar, it is actually this silvery ribbon of skin that repaired itself. It didn't make a big fuss, or need its mom's help, it just saw something was broken, and went about it's way repairing it. It shows the stitching, but details in stitching are beautiful. So even if the scar is on your child's heart or soul, the silvery beauty of what repairs itself shows in what your child learns and how she grows from that brokenness. I am mostly just along for the ride.
Abby started and ended with a quote from The Fault in Our Stars: "I’m on a rollercoaster that only goes up, my friend.”
And I will end with the next line in the book:
"And it is my privilege and my responsibility to ride all the way up with you."