But that was then.
Over 30 years later, it’s just a teenage memory --- albeit not one of the better ones. Even using the weighty expression ‘dumped’ brings on nothing more than a shrug. Bah. But decades earlier it was absolutely devastating. It was my first real broken heart. It was my first taste of many more broken hearts to come. It was my first realization that when someone leaves you, you may very fall apart for awhile. And that’s okay.
But I didn’t think it was okay then because I was a teenage girl. And teenage girls can be funny. When they first break up with a boyfriend, particularly if he’s the ‘dumper’ instead of the ‘dumpee’, the world seems as though it will end. And a heartbroken teenager is sincerely convinced that it will. After all, how can the world possibly keep turning when you’re feeling this crappy? In addition, I’d bet that the word never is used more during the teenage years than at any other time of our lives. And this word is not only used to emphasize the terminal pain and suffering that a shattered relationship conjures, it’s also an exaggerated response to every emotional experience in a teenager’s world.
“My broken heart will never mend”; “My wounds will never heal”; “I’ll never find another boyfriend”; “I’ll never be okay”; “I’ll never leave this house”; “I’ll never finish this project”; “I’ll never take off these braces”; “I’ll never make new friends”, “My teacher will never stop picking on me”, “The coach will never pick me for the team”. Never, never, never-
I took it one step further with my heightened sensitivity. Unlike many of the kids in my age group, my angst-laden world was not defined solely by the word ‘never’; it was also defined by the ensuing word ‘ever’, which was added on to properly highlight my level of anguish.
“I will never ever get over this”; “There will never ever be another guy for me”; “My mother will never ever be fair”; “This life will never ever be good to me”. Never ever-
I was reminded of that period of my life earlier this week when my 15 year old daughter’s boyfriend broke up with her after several months of them dating. Yes, I am using the term ‘broke up’ because the word ‘dumped’ does not apply to my daughters. They’re too precious. No one dumps one of my girls considering they’re both such a good a catch. If someone ‘breaks up’ with one of them, they’re simply misguided, making a bad judgment call. And missing out on someone special.
Don’t we all feel this way about our kids?
|Anyone who ends up with this precious girl will be lucky.|
Anyway, this is her first real heartbreak, and as much as I know from experience that it’s all part of growing up, I couldn’t help but feel my own heart breaking along with hers. I hugged her and wished that I could draw the pain right out of her. I wanted so badly to be able to take away her hurt feelings. To protect her. To shield her. Because even though there’s no doubt that ‘this too shall pass’, when relationships end, it hurts. And nothing upsets me more than seeing my children unhappy. But we can’t shield our kids from the pain the world will inflict upon them. And if we’re to be honest, there is growth in pain. Facing and overcoming difficult times makes us stronger and wiser, and these experiences are both valuable and necessary in preparing us for the adult world.
So, yes, this too shall pass. In the meantime, there’s ice cream to numb the heartache. Both of ours.