“We have to talk.” These are the four words that can bring a man to his knees, the words that can strike fear into your heart quicker than lightning striking the Earth, the words that can completely flip somebody’s life. These are the four words that usually come before losing the person you care for and love the most. Just about everyone will have their heart broken at least once in their lifetime. I have been lucky enough to have picked up the pieces after three heartbreaks. I have recently been inspired by a Japanese style of art called kintsugi, which is the repair of pottery using lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. In kintsugi, the artist takes a broken object and repairs in a way that makes it even more beautiful and stronger than it was before it was broken. After three heartbreaks in just three years, I have gotten pretty good at putting together the pieces and learning from the experience, making me stronger than before the breakup.
My first heartbreak happened in my freshman year of high school with my first girlfriend. Back then, I was clueless about relationships. I was self-conscious and I let her make all of the decisions in the relationship since she had more experience than me. We loved each other; well at least we thought we did. I will never forget where I was when I got the text; I was in the shower that night when my phone suddenly went off, so as I always do I reached out to see the name flashing on my screen. I saw it was her and I picked it up.
“We have to talk...” The words lit up my screen.
“What’s wrong?” I wrote back as I rinsed my toothbrush and jumped out of the shower.
“This isn’t working out, I think we should stop this,” she texted.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “What should we stop?”
“We just aren’t working out Michael, you care too much,” she responded.
I care too much? Is that even possible? My chest was heavy and a wave of nausea took over as I considered how compassion could be a detriment in a relationship. For the next 4 months I was an emotional wreck. I found my mind wandering to her and my fatal flaw of caring. I cried more in those weeks following her breakup text than I ever cried. That was until one day, I decided that I would never allow someone to hurt me like that again. I started holding people at a distance and tried to not let anyone get too close. Eventually, I began talking to someone else, but this didn’t work out because we couldn’t really connect and I was unavailable. Because of my wall, I became the kind of guy I never wanted to be and I even made this girl cry over me and for that I hated myself. Immediately after that, I tore down the wall and opened back up. Although my luck with women was not getting any better I was learning a lot about love and about myself.
Heartbreak 2 was gifted to me by my second girlfriend. She was smart, friendly, and incredibly passionate about so many causes. While we dated I did a lot of new things like attending a 2 hour bible study every Thursday night with her family. I don’t consider myself religious, but I did all of these things to be closer with her and her family. Throughout our relationship I made sure everything was perfect; I was the “perfect” boyfriend. Then one day we were on the bus to her house for a family event when all of a sudden she pulled the string to stop the bus. We were nowhere near her house and I knew something wasn’t right. We got off of the bus and began to walk. After we made our way to a secluded place, I heard those 4 words again. “We have to talk.” The reason she cited was that “We’re both at different points in our lives.” Something was different about this time. I found myself able to repair myself and learn from it faster than the first time. Although she said we were at different places in our lives, I knew the real reason she no longer wanted to be with me was because I tried too hard. This heartbreak showed me I should have been more authentic. My mistake was that I tried to be Prince Charming instead of just being me.
My latest heartbreak was number 3, which I’m still currently recovering from as I type this essay. It’s funny, because heartbreak number 3 was the same girl who I made cry over me back in freshman year. She was my inspiration to tear down the wall, and she still always had a spot in my heart. Later on in my junior year I actually had the opportunity to go to Costa Rica, she was one of the other 19 students who also were chosen to go on this trip which I thought at the time was fate. During our time in Costa Rica we were able to connect on a deeper level through the hardships that were presented to us. I would carry her bags while we hiked up mountains, reassure her she was strong as we worked, and most of all I would comfort her when she needed someone. By the end of the trip it was hard to think about not being able to see her on the daily basis like I had been used to. When we arrived back in the states I made it my goal to do as much with her as I possibly could. I would take her out for breakfast, bring her food to work, and even drive 20 minutes just to drive her home at night. But it was all worth it to me just to see her happy. As time went on, our feelings for each other grew stronger and stronger by the day. Eventually we began to talk and act like we were a couple; we just didn’t have the titles yet. She was afraid, she had never been in a relationship before and it was all new to her. I assured her that I would give her all the time she needed, and I let her know that I wasn’t going anywhere. A few months went on like this and everything was perfect. I reflected on my past relationships and what went wrong so I could make sure to not mess up again. I couldn’t mess up with this girl, she wasn’t like the others. I was finally myself, something I was always pretty afraid to be with girls. She was different and I appreciated that much more than she’ll ever know. Until just like every other story, she used those famous 4 words.
“We have to talk...” she texted.
It was out of the blue. In the morning and throughout the day we were fine, but when we got home from school I guess something changed in her.
“What’s wrong?” I sent as my chest filled with heat and my heart raced.
“I can’t do this,” she proclaimed. “It’s not you, it's me.”
I was once again broken. She explained to me all of the reasons we couldn’t be in a relationship, but she still wanted to be my friend. After everything she was putting me through, she still expected me and her to be okay as friends. Sounds impossible doesn’t it? Yeah, but I still tried to go with it just because I thought that there was still a chance to fix things. Trying to be friends with someone you would have done anything for and had deeper feelings than friendship for is in my opinion pointless and it is just going to hurt your heart even more. Over time she began to push me further and further away, all while making the entire thing out to be my fault. Everything was my fault, and I actually believed it for a long time. Eventually things happened between us that have now resulted in 3 months of not saying a word to each other. Even now, as I sit in the same class with her, and write this essay behind her it still hurts knowing that we were so perfect, but look at us now. This heartbreak, the heartbreak from a girl who wasn’t even my girlfriend, hurt the most… To this day I still do not know why things did not work out between us. But what I learned from it is this, some things are just not meant to be. You cannot force things to go your way; if something is supposed to be then it will eventually find its way back. Looking back at the numerous heartbreaks that I have had to go through, I have been able to take away valuable life lessons that will forever change who I am and shape me into a better person. Just like the art of kintsugi, the more times I am broken simply means the more times I have put myself back together making me even stronger than before. I am my own piece of pottery, and every crack lined with gold is just another one of my scars, or what I like to call my portraits of strength.