I had my first boyfriend in sixth grade, if you can even call it that. Basically, we both thought the other was cute, and in middle school that’s the only qualification needed to start “going out.” Thinking back, I laugh at how mature I felt. But even though we were young and didn’t know much more than each other’s names at first, I ended up developing strong feelings for this boy. He became my best friend, and our relationship lasted for more than a year and a half.
Until the day he dumped me, and I was thrown into my first experience with heartbreak. It was gut-wrenching, to say the least. Yet despite the gaping hole he left in my life, I eventually moved on to the best of my ability.
It wasn’t until late freshman year that we began speaking again. And then halfway through sophomore year we gave dating another try. It was better this time around, because we were older and more mature. He had such a good heart and treated me like I was the only girl in the world. His family became my family, and we did everything together. And he was there for me on some of the most painful and traumatic days I ever faced in my broken home. He was my rock.
But those months of dating also contain memories I would sometimes rather forget altogether.
We both had physical boundaries we wanted to keep, but our chemistry and love were strong. It didn’t take long before those boundaries were crossed and I was left dealing with the guilt of that. He could also be immature at times; he would try to get a rise out of my best friends for no reason. Before I knew it, I was caught between people who cared about me but hated each other.
The final and most painful factor that led us to break up at the beginning of junior year, was when I discovered he was talking to another girl. He claimed they were just friends. I knew that wasn’t true because they started dating two weeks after we broke up.
I was left with a mound of bitterness, guilt, and pain as I tried to make sense of everything and move on after the worst heartbreak I have ever experienced.
I was frustrated that I had given away part of myself physically to a guy who so easily tossed me aside. I was heartbroken at losing my best friend for a second time. I was bitter and angry that he had lied to me. I felt stupid for letting him in, and for months I grappled with the mistakes we both had made as I tried to figure out how to move on from them.
After a whole lot of soul searching, it finally hit me that I was never going to be able to move on if I didn’t forgive. I needed to let go of the bitterness I felt towards my ex and forgive him for decisions he had made. To hold onto the hurt and not forgive, only meant my ex would still have a piece of me, making it more difficult to move on to someone else.
Furthermore, I needed to forgive myself, letting go of the guilt and the “what ifs” of how I could have handled our relationship differently. I had to rediscover my self-worth as I chose to believe that his decisions were not a reflection of my worthiness of love. I realized the best thing I could do was learn from that relationship was to move on, to spend sometime working to become wiser and more sure of myself and what I wanted in a partner.
So starting that day, that’s exactly what I did. It wasn’t an overnight transformation; it took time.
Now, I am dating a much more mature version of that same little boy I met thirteen years ago in sixth grade. And I can honestly say that forgiving him and forgiving myself was one of the best decisions I ever made. If I hadn’t done so, I may have been too hard-hearted to even consider letting him back into my life. I would have missed out on the most kind-hearted, well-rounded, grown up version of himself that I have ever met.
Every day he proves to me through his actions and words that forgiveness was worth it.