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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.

  • Christine Bonacci

    I loved everything said. This is true of friends and family also. They do the same thing to your your feelings and heart. I needed this. Thanks.

  • Evie Totty

    Thank you Taylor. Mine also left me 6 months ago. Without a single word. And he refuses to apologize. I also loved 500 Days of Summer and I see what you are saying. I do have hope that I’ll be able to grow those flowers.

  • Gia Rose Ciccone

    I really needed this today.
    Thank you. <3

  • Amanda Haas

    Going through the same thing. This really helps. :)

  • Tracie Boyle

    I loved 500 Days of Summer for the same reasons you did – it’s a realistic portrayal of two people’s relationship. It’s a story about love, but it’s not a love story. Summer was upfront with Tom from the beginning, but he had hoped that she would change and fall as deep in love with him as he had with her. When that didn’t happen, it was heartbreaking, but Summer never lead him on. That “Expectations vs. Reality” scene is one of my favorites as well – it’s just so well done.

    While I still haven’t found “Mr. Right (for Me)”, I haven’t given up hope. I truly believe that everything does happen for a reason and with each failed relationship, I’m getting closer to finding that person. I’ve not only come to learn what I don’t want in a relationship, but I’m also discovering what I do – and focusing on that. If you keep focusing on what you *don’t* want, that’s what you’re going to wind up getting.

    If you haven’t read “Meeting Your Half-Orange” by Amy Spencer you should give it a read. It’s a great book with some great ideas about how to put yourself out there and be ready to accept love when it comes your way :)

    • Jannah Paradise

      oh, i don’t agree that Summer didn’t lead on Tom. at first she didnt, but she lead on him when she went to his apartment when they had a fight because Tom punched the guy from the bar..

  • Josie Suhs

    I think we have the exact outlook on life and should be best friends.
    I love 500 Days of Summer and also Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for all those exact reasons.
    I believe everything does happen for a reason and everyone comes in and out of our lives for reasons as well. Destiny always has a way to live up to it’s name. Sometimes it’s just hard to not have all the answers right away. I’m in a relationship right now and I always think about how hard it would be to start over. Yet, deep down I know if that is what I have to do one day, I can do it and will do it.

  • Amanda Bergeron-Manzone

    It’s like you wrote this straight from my own head and heart. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. Thank you.

  • Taylor Aileen Harrison

    Guys, you’re making me cry! I am so glad you related to & enjoyed this!

  • Amy Lopez Fitzgerald

    ” I felt like becoming a hermit, stripper and nun all at the same time” – that is such an awesome quote. Its like boiling down breakup emotions into one sentence. Thank you for this article. You are a very talented writer :)

  • Alycia Lourim

    this really hit the spot on a day I really needed it. thank you, this was a great honest raw article that I feel unveiled so much truth I am sure it was a bit hard to come to terms with. Your honesty and strength is beautiful and courageous which gives me hope for my future attempts at love. xoxo.

  • Jillian Irons

    You are absolutely stunning.
    An incredible writer & the best friend a girl could ask for.
    Thank you for always being so genuine.

  • Arin Sandrina

    Your writing is definitely a slap in the face, for a good reason. I also love to see movie without happy ending. Sometime we need to be woken up from the imaginary life that the real life is challenging.
    Still, I haven’t found my ‘only one’. How many times I got closer with boys is the same with how many times I finally gave up hope. But finally I realize that it was me who make me still being single. I was infatuated by all the beauty of happy-ever-afters and they intervened my mind, my logic of thinking, and my heart. I was the kind of person that would give in, even when the relationship was not yet been built, just because I spotted a flaw in him. I was the kind of person who dreamed of Prince Charming and his stallion.
    Reading your writing made me realized that in love, it is not all about looking for someone flawless. Indeed, it is all about finding your best fit.
    I recently read and watched One Day, and for me, it also a slap in the face. What do you think?

  • Larah McKay

    So nice to read a piece that is realistic about love. This is exactly what I’ve learned over the last few months going through a break up is that when the pain fades, it’s amazing how quickly the brightness of your future shows itself. It’s kind of nice that ‘what will happen next?’ feeling. After a while, your ex starts to lose his veneer, your self survival has kicked in and you’ve saved yourself and made room for something better. Like the changing of the seasons…

  • Angel Fernandez

    Amen, sister. (internet high five)

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