“If you get knocked down, pick yourself up and just keep on going”…we’ve all heard it. Our parents, teachers, friends…every one has told you to find your inner strength and overcome whatever brings you down. If such a phrase is said so commonly, it should be easy right? This is what I have been asking myself for over a year now. How can I find the strength, courage, or power to move on from something that put me down for so long?
I entered college as a bubbly, wide-eyed freshmen, in aye of the beautiful campus and college community I now called home. I joined a sorority, made awesome grades, and even got a job downtown that put me right in the middle of the social scene. At this point in my life I had never been happier. I was living the life I had always wanted and planned for myself growing up.
Sophomore year I met a boy. Like every great love story, I was head over heels for this guy. I loved everything about him; his personality, his appearance, the way he made me laugh…literally everything. I was young, naïve, and “in love” with the guy of my so-called dreams. I would do anything for this boy, and for a while, he would do the same for me. Half way through “dating” (and I say dating loosely because he never would allow me to call him my boyfriend) I found out he had been talking to and seeing other girls. To say I was heart broken is an understatement. I cried, screamed, left voicemails, sent novel length texts to him…basically anything you could think of that may or may not be deemed crazy. But it didn’t matter how crazy I came off, I wanted him to love me. For months I continued to fight the battle of “why don’t you love me” or “please take me back”, each time failing miserably with a response always along the lines of “you’re a stalker” or “you are so crazy leave me alone”. I was playing a game in which I was never going to win.
I went from a confident, lively, college student to a depressed girl putting on an act for her family and friends. From the outside my life was perfect, but on the inside I was hurting more than anyone knew. I did not think I was pretty or smart and I felt as if the world was against me. I stopped caring what I looked like or what I did and before too long I was no longer Lauren, I was someone who was unhappy with the life they were living.
I didn’t want help. Well, realistically I just didn’t want to ask for help. I had always been able to fix my own problems, so why shouldn’t I be able to fix this one? This was the problem though; I was not letting anyone in. The people who loved and cared about me were being pushed out with assurances of “I am sure I am ok, no need to worry”. In the same breath as I had assured them of my happiness, I sank lower into self-pity. From here, my self-pity did not allow me to build new relationships.
If Chuck Bass (xoxo to all you Gossip Girl fans out there) had walked up to me and asked me on a date, I would have turned him down. I did not care how nice, handsome, or rich anyone was…I was not interested. Why? Because I still “loved” the boy who rejected me. My heart still lied with a boy who put me down and turned me away; a boy who continuously played a game with my feelings.
An entire year passed from the time my heart was first broken. I was home for Christmas break chatting with my mom about what was going on at school when she brought up my so-called love life. She asked about the boys who I had been talking to or if I was interested in anyone…you know, the usual mom stuff. It was then that I could no longer bare the hurt I had kept pushed down for months. I opened up, spilling my heart out to my mother about the pain and heartbreak I had been dealing with, grasping for any comfort I could get.
My mother looked at me and simply asked, “why”? I was confused at first but she continued by asking why I had let someone treat me this way, why I had allowed myself to loose my confidence, why I thought I loved this boy, and why I had not asked for help. It hit me like a ton a bricks…I did not know. I did not have an answer to her “whys” because any answer I tried to articulate sounded pitiful and pathetic for someone who had always protruded so much self-confidence and worth. My mother looked at me and told me with as much seriousness as she ever had that no man has the right to control your life. She was right, this boy had been controlling my life for over a year whether he (or myself) knew it or not.
From here, I listened and I prayed. I asked God for the strength to find myself again, to find the Lauren that everyone knew and loved. I asked for forgiveness; forgiveness of my neglect to family, friends, my faith, and myself. I asked for hope; hope to find a man worthy of my love and what I had to offer to a relationship. I needed to begin on a path to learning to love both another and myself again.
I recently met a guy who has allowed me to find faith in the hope of discovering love again. Though at first hesitant to let down my guard or open up about my past, this man has strengthened my self-worth and confidence more than he could ever imagine. A simple compliment of how beautiful I am or his desire to see and spend time with me have allowed me to feel like all women are supposed to feel when they are truly cared about. Regardless of where our relationship may find itself, his friendship as given me the tools to rebuild my life. When you allow yourself to be confident and powerful in yourself, others will notice and live up to this standard. We as women set a standard…the standard of happiness and attention we are willing to accept.
Accept the highest; do not settle for what doesn’t make you feel like the ultimate you. Surrounding yourself with the company of a man who lives up to your standard with allow you to love again. I have learned from my past and am thankful for the challenges I have overcome to get me to where I am today. It took time, patience, and above all, faith. Accept your past and learn from it, do not fall victim to something you cannot change. What you once deemed “love” will be overshadowed by true love found in your relationship with God, faith, and a man who rises to your standard of self-worth.
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