After my first serious break up as a young adult, I was in shambles. My previous relationships ended with two people growing into themselves and eventually growing apart. That felt normal. I was almost proud of growth so deep that even the way I perceived love had blossomed in some ways. Nevertheless, heartbreak was something completely different. As a young man, I hadn't grown apart from my lover; instead, they had cheated on me, lied to me, verbally abused me, and disrespected me on all levels. Once I found out about the physical cheating, I could no longer stay in the relationship. The sight of my partner repulsed me. My self-view had taken a plummet, and I blamed myself for so many of the things that went wrong.
There were nights I couldn't sleep and nights I finally drifted into slumber I awake crying, screaming, and in cold sweats from a mix of dreams, memories, and betrayals. All the bad times played in my head on a loop and popped up anytime they saw fit. But over time, something strange happened. The good times began to insert themselves into my mental loop. The laughs, the smiles, the hugs, kisses, and first times all started to take space in my mind. I was missing someone who had treated me worse than dirt, and I hated myself for missing them. I asked myself time and time again, “How could you want something back that felt like dying? How could you put your heart back in place, nurture, and heal it, only to allow someone to rip it out again.” Eventually, I reached out to my ex, wondering if these memories were a sign that we could make things work, that what we had was more significant than what we had done to each other. I mistook missing for wanting them back. Some people are best as memories. He wasn't my love, but I could love the memories we shared, I could visit him in my mind and protect my heart without letting him back into my life. Every relationship has good times, and I refuse to throw them away because of shame. Nevertheless, missing and longing have subtle differences, and distinguishing the two can be the difference between healing and hurting all over again.