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If Love is a Battlefield, How Long Should We Continue to Fight?

I recently watched Breaking Upwards, a Netflix instant you should look into. It is an unconventional love story. It was reminiscent of the Woody Allen classic, Annie Hall, for me. The thing is, I have a special place in my heart for movies that end without absolute clarity or certainty. Movies ending with loose ties and open interpretations somehow delight me. One of the leading men or leading ladies dies, maybe they break up or they do have a future together, but it isn’t straight forward or shared with the audience. I love films like this particularly because this is life. Life can be cruel, unplanned and open ended. It is hardly ever predictable. Most of the population does not marry the first person they date. We kiss more than one jerk, we cry ourselves to sleep, we want to go “Carrie Underwood” on their vehicles with a baseball bat. Sometimes, in order, to grow we have to learn lessons the hard way. People come into our lives and they leave our lives. I am not saying this flippantly or in a “grow a pair and get a hold of yourself” manner. I am saying all of this out of a very personal and sincere place. I have been a wreck because of unclear endings. I fully admit I’ve had my fair (or not so fair) share of heartbreak. Relationships that scarred me. Saying goodbye to a person you discussed growing old with is no easy task. One doesn’t forget the good or the bad of a relationship. It is definitely possible to forgive, but not to forget.

So, although I am a girly girl at heart with a deep adoration for The Notebook and every Jennifer Aniston movie ever, why should I only allow myself to enjoy movies with happily ever afters? Sometimes they give me hope I’ll find a soul mate immediately, but sometimes they make me feel miserable, fearing an obese cat lady destiny. I remember when 500 Days of Summer came out. I was ecstatic for it even before i saw it because of my love for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. I could not wait for it to come out. I sat in the crowded theater laughing and crying. I was flat out mesmerized. It changed my life. The scene with the split screen of expectations vs. reality is one of my all time favorites. Everybody has had moments of disappointment, when what actually happens is the polar opposite of what you wanted to occur. Surprisingly, I found several of my male friends had mixed reviews of the movie. They mumbled things like, “Man, that Summer was a bitch to him.” I was not only confused by their response but angered. How dare they think that about her! She was honest with him from the beginning. I think what upset me the most was not their hatred of the character but their dismissal of the movie altogether. They found it to be too sad. Well, you know what? I found it to be encouraging. It was a slap to the face in a very positive way. People are continually growing and figuring out who they are and what they want out of life. Although we meet great guys and girls, sometimes it turns out we are heading in wholly different directions. This doesn’t mean we are defective in the romance department. It means we can be decent human beings to one another; value and learn from the relationship and part ways with mutual respect and well wishes. Is it simple? No. Is it fun? No. Is it painful and life altering? Yes.

On a rather intimate note, I began writing this on Sunday and was still mulling it over when I received a letter from my last serious boyfriend on Tuesday. I had sent him a letter a few weeks ago in hopes of finding closure, knowing I said everything I had to say. It was a difficult experience. Although I was head over heels from the beginning, both of us had always said we would be transparent and even if it didn’t work out, we would be honest and try our hardest not be monsters. Under unforeseen circumstances, our relationship did indeed end. It was by no means a pleasant parting. (Both parties hurled hurtful words they would later come to regret.) I felt like becoming a hermit, stripper and nun all at the same time. Every emotion came out, often at unexpected times. It has been a rough six months since we broke up. Yet something about reading his genuine apology, explanation and his willingness to understand my actions made me realize it wasn’t all in vain.

I had never felt the way I felt about him. To let go and move on would mean accepting the fact I’d have to put myself out there all over again. That would mean being vulnerable, apt to being screwed over and being hurt all over again. This is a truth all of us have to deal with; we have to come to terms with it in our own way. In order to succeed, whatever that may mean to you specifically, the act of being broken and picking up all the pieces is crucial. I believe everything happens for a reason. Do I always know what the reason is? Of course not. All I have control over is my response to the events in my life. Will my approach be glass half full or half empty?  There is a strength in perseverance and experiencing letdown, one can not gain through everything dropping into their lap.

All this to say, if you happen to be single and home alone on a Friday night, watching Pride & Prejudice or Bridget Jones’ Diary for the millionth time and bawling your eyes out because you haven’t found your Mr. Darcy yet, take a deep breath. Attempt to see the beauty and purpose in the non-happily-ever-afters. You probably have much more going for you than you think in the present and even more, far exceeding your imagination, awaiting you in the future. Accept there is no such thing as a perfect person, relationship or ending. There are various seasons of life. I mean, in a way, it is kind of exhilarating knowing you can always pick yourself up again and start over. Know there are brighter things ahead. In the words of the magnificent Kate Nash, “You can grow flowers where dirt used to be.” Most importantly, be open to what love actually is- challenging, selfless and incapable of failing and eventually you’ll find a mate that isn’t flawless but is your best fit.

Truly yours, Taylor Harrison

You can read more from Taylor on her blog.