This has been the story of my romantic journey, full of up-and-downs: from loving myself to forgetting about myself, from morning rituals to the spontaneity that comes with a relationship, from putting myself first to prioritising someone else.
"In fact, heartbreak wasn’t what I expected at all; it was many things, but it wasn’t artistic."
I, for one, discovered “self-care” after my first heartbreak. It was as messy and vexatious as the ones portrayed in movies. Still, although I knew about heartbreak from books and films, I didn’t know how to actually go through it. No amount of “grow through what you go through” posts saved me from calling my ex, again and again. In fact, heartbreak wasn’t what I expected at all; it was many things, but it wasn’t artistic. Neither did I look beautiful while crying, nor did it make me more sophisticated or mature. It felt like an ongoing purgatory, and I kept expecting someone else to rescue me...
... and then I got tired of all of my excuses. I realised that it was about loving me more than I had loved him, as simple as that. It was about respecting myself enough to walk away from something that was humiliating and hurting me. I’d say that it all started with finding a small amount of self-respect, that, slowly but surely, through self-awareness and self-care, bloomed into self-love.
Still, you don’t have to go through a Drivers License experience to learn the value of self-care.
Now, self-care has, more or less, been commodified. Hence, its true meaning has been twisted. I bet you already came across all those “self-care is that” and “self-care isn't” Instagram posts.
However, while most of us were growing up, self-care and self-love weren’t the most talked about topics. I don’t know about you, but I was taught to believe that loving myself made me vain. That’s why, only when it felt like I had no one else left, I learned what self-care is. It didn’t feel like a trend, like something that was coming from the outside; it was intuitive and as simple as starting to say no or learning to spend time by myself.
Years have passed since my first heartbreak, and I have been in and out of relationships. That being said, self-care may have made me more independent, but not in a way that made me refuse human connection. Instead, it made me more connected to myself, while I was also connecting with other people. As difficult as it may sound, self-care should be a priority not only when you are single and thriving, but also when you find yourself head over heels for someone. It’s something that should be cultivated from childhood and carried out throughout life, from relationship to relationship. In the end, as cliché as it may sound, your relationship with yourself is the longest you’ll ever have, so why not invest in it?
Featured image: Annie Spratt via Unsplash