I got dumped yesterday. Via email.
It makes me so sad that I keep catching my breath when I think about it.
But I still believe in loving even when you have no reason to think things will turn out well. Even when it looks like they will turn out spectacularly badly. Even when the object of your affection has already dumped you, three times.
Everyone gets dumped. But I don’t just believe in dusting yourself off. I believe in pitching yourself full-force at that person you find so compelling, just to make sure you’ve given each other every possible chance at happiness. Even if it leaves you crying in the bathroom of your favorite bar, or watching “What Not to Wear” alone on your couch.
I developed the kernel of this belief as a high school freshman. Infatuated with a tall, dark, studious junior, I craned my neck for him every passing period and joined his academic teams. One day after school, I told him I – quote – dug him. He did not share my feelings.
I didn’t keel over from awkwardness then. But I wanted to curl up into a ball and die when two years later, he told me he’d changed his mind a week after my confession. He’d been too embarrassed of having hurt me to say something.
It was then that I began believing in exhausting my affections.
Since then, I have recovered when, after telling a stranger that he was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen, I realized he was a college drop-out, drinking basketcase. And I recovered after four months of daily crying jags, when I was dumped by an editor who could parse my heart as effortlessly as he did my stories.
And now, two months after starting this essay, I have recovered from the breakup email. I am over it because of a different man, one who dumped me three times, twice over sushi. A five-year relationship during which I exchanged my virginity for perspective taught me to keep reaching out, even when I knew we were not going to get married and have babies. Because I could be wrong. I’m wrong about all kinds of things. And I had to give our love that chance.
Because of that man, I reached out to the emailing ex. There was much talk, and hand holding and crying. And I don’t know how it’s going to end.
But I’m glad I did it, because I believe the heart is the only part of our bodies we can break over and over. You can’t do it with vertebrae, pinkies, arms or toes, and I know, because I’ve broken all those. But my heart is no weaker, no more bruised, no more disfigured. And while some fear the hurt that comes with love, I only fear not loving enough.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.