Is it helpful for personal growth? Has it helped me be a better writer?
Fair warning that this is more of a personal blog post! When I’m writing my books, both my currently published ones and the ones sitting unpublished on my laptop, I do a lot of thinking about love and relationships. This thinking obviously leads to reflection on my own love life, my past experiences with boyfriends, and contemplating the idea of love in general.
My mom always said love is love at any age. There is no singular definition of love or a measurement system. It’s simply emotions stacked together, or maybe tangled together is the better definition. Everybody experiences it in their life time, usually multiple times, and regardless of the outcome we all keep chasing after the feeling of being in love.
What is love?
So, what makes love successful? I’m not sure I have a concrete answer to that one. When I was younger I used to ask my mom why she loved my dad. Her answer was always the same. “Because we like doing the same things together.”
I didn’t like this answer. It seemed so generic and basic to me. I wondered why she couldn’t add something spicy to it. After all, my parents do have a really interesting backstory. They grew up together and their families used to go camping and boating together when they were children. Romantic feelings never happened between them until they were both adults; my dad actually teased her as a child (he’s 5 years older, which is a pretty big age gap as kids.) So why, after all their interesting history, was my mom’s answer about love so boring?
Analyzing my cringey past
Then I grew up and started dating in high school. High school is such an awful place to date, isn’t it? Everybody cares way too much about your business and they all think their opinion is important. Anyways, me and my high school beau dated for a year and a half and looking back on it has made me realize how in-love we were. He was the first real love of my life, the one that gave me those amazing emotions in the first place.
I dated my next boyfriend for 5 years and lived in a small apartment with him for the last year and a bit of our relationship. This was the type of relationship that taught me a lot of hard lessons about love in general. This was the one where I experienced the most heartache and heartbreak. This is the one that has scarred me forever (dramatic, I know.)
During this relationship we both led completely separate lives. He was a university student for most of it and I was doing various things including my hairstylist apprenticeship, coaching, and going to college for business administration. Living together was the only time we both worked full-time, neither one of us in school anymore, but we experienced a number of issues along the way.
#1 – Our goals were different
#2 - Our hobbies were different (for the most part)
#3 – We didn’t set ourselves up for success
The first one is a very obvious thing but is so easy to ignore when you’re chasing the fantasy in your head. We both had a completely different vision of where our lives were going to end up and what we both wanted to do. The final straw was when I realized he wanted to join the military. I was somewhat blind for not realizing this earlier, he loved the military and always talked about it, but I thought it was a phase or a hobby. But he wanted it to be his life.
I didn’t want it to be my life. I want to live a somewhat boring life in a nice house, doing my own little projects and working on my passions (like writing!) Reflecting now I can completely notice all of the red flags that told me he would never be fulfilled if he didn’t follow his dreams but at the time, I didn’t want to let him go.
Our hobbies were different too. We both loved watching shows and moves but that was where our similarities ended. I love camping in a trailer (glamping), going to the lake to sea-doo, and staying home most of the time. I’m a home body. Exotic restaurant food doesn’t appeal to me.
He isn’t into the lake the way I am. He prefers tent camping and hiking. A day out fishing was his ideal day off and both he and his family love going to new and interesting restaurants. This is all good stuff but it wasn’t my cup of tea.
Finally, we didn’t set ourselves up for success. We were both new to living on our own and I took on the brunt of the chores, which I shouldn’t have done at the time. It created unnecessary fights over “who works harder” and “who isn’t appreciating who.” Taking on most of the responsibility is something I typically do but in this case, my return investment wasn’t working out the way I had hoped. We were miserable.
Now all of that being said, we had so many good times together and I will always remember those. So was it 5 years wasted? Absolutely not.
Onto current events! After my breakup with my ex, I was in a low mental state and I actually had to start journaling EVERY SINGLE DAY to get through it. It was such an odd emotion because I wasn’t actually missing him… I was missing the life I had envisioned for us. I was upset that after all the hard work I did, I came out with nothing in my hands. Just thoughts in my head.
After that I got together with my current boyfriend, Scott. Weirdly enough, we grew up together as well, having lived in the same cul-de-sac until we were teenagers. We were never close friends and there was nothing romantic between us back then, but we always noticed each other in school. We were always in the background of one another’s lives… in the background of some of our best memories.
He loves being out on the lake and chilling out at home on his days off. He’s the one that forces me to keep writing no matter how discouraged I get. He’s the one that wanted to dive in head-first and get a house with me, just like I always wanted.
What does this mean?
It means my mother was right. In my situation at least!
Even though her answer was simple, it really does make a difference when you enjoy doing the same things together. Not everything between you needs to be the same; where’s the fun in dating yourself? But you do need to have the same ideas of fun and the same goals for your future intertwined lifestyle. If you’re planning on living together (married or not) then it’s crucial to be on the same page. There are so many other little lessons I could shout out right now (pick and choose your battles) but I’ll save that for another rant.
Is heartbreak helpful for personal growth?
Short answer? Maybe. Hopefully. There are so many ways to look at traumatic experiences such as heartbreak and heartache. In my case, it was very helpful in finding out who compliments me as a person and allows me be the best version of myself. But it also SUCKED along the way!
Did I grow? Obviously. Growth is natural and doesn’t happen purposefully, it just happens. We don’t tell our legs to get taller when we’re children. We simply wake up with leg-aches and suddenly our relatives are commenting on how big we’ve grown. Experiencing complex, multi-leveled emotions do force us to grow into the person we’re meant to be in our relationships but it will never be a smooth journey. There will always be growing pains around love!
Am I a better writer for it?
I sure hope so! Damn.
I would say my past helps me with my writing but also takes its own toll on my mentality some days. When I’m creating relationships and bonds between two people and I’m reflecting on my own experiences around love to do that, it can really drag up some depressing past memories. And yet in the next scene, my writing reminds me why love is so wonderful in the first place! Love is a roller coaster ride and I wouldn’t change any of it.
Do you think love is helpful for personal growth? Do heartbreak and heartache change us for the better?