I hate to be that girl. The girl who continues to write about the one that got away... but I truly believe this is a valuable life lesson all women (and men for that matter) would appreciate learning.
Last summer, I went on vacation with a boyfriend for the first time ever.
We've traveled to other states, been on road trips, stayed in hotels together before. But this was the first time we've gotten on a plane and traveled to a foreign country together.
And to top it all off, we were going with his parents, brother and sister-in-law -- two of the most stable relationships he witnesses on a daily basis.
The vacation was straight out of a movie and I came home believing I was in a good, secure, comfortable place with my boyfriend. That is, until he broke up with me before I could even unpack my bags.
He had doubts about our relationship before we traveled together to my favorite city in the world. My first question to him was, "Why couldn't you just tell me?”
“Because I thought it would get better in France,” he said.
No. It wouldn't have gotten better because I didn't know there was something that needed to get better.
Clearly, we were on different vacations. I saw lights in our future as bright and sparkling as the Eiffel Tower; he saw life with me as foreign as the French language.
I had trouble grasping his logic for months on end. But I realize now what a reckless decision it was to go on vacation with someone I barely knew.
Of course, at the time, I thought I knew him. He was my best friend, someone I thought I could always count on, someone I could've possibly thrown everything away for.
He was someone I enjoyed spending time with, whether it was being stuck in city traffic together or on the beach in the south of France.
I know now that was never the case.
He was right when he told me I couldn't open up to him. He was right when he said it wouldn't work for him even if I tried harder. He was right when he said he loved me despite us not being right for each other.
I know it wasn't a lie or a conspiracy; he did truly love me, but not enough for us to build a life together. His love wasn't good enough for me as much as mine wasn't good enough for him.
Our love for one another was the kind all writers write about, but one that could only last a chapter.
I may not have been able to open up to him like he wanted, but he never opened up to me in the way I expected.
I had always thought he'd come to me with any problems the way he'd push me to come to him with my own.
When he didn't, I should've known not to depend on him to push me out of my comfort zone the way he usually did -- when I was never there to push him out of his.
When he realized he couldn't see the world with me, I couldn't imagine life without him. I realize now I can't see the world with anyone but myself.
One year later, I'm not yet in a new relationship nor have I had the desire to search for one. The only love I crave is the one for myself, the one I haven't found yet, the one I'm working hard every day to achieve.
I often think about the person I was before I met him, the person I was while I was with him and the person I became after him.
Before him, I was independent; with him, I was confident; after him, I'm stronger. Every day is a another day on this journey to becoming the woman who could be all of those things.
When traveling with a significant other, you realize you can't see the world with someone without seeing it for yourself first.
You can't look through someone else's lens and discover the beauty through their eyes without first discovering what you yourself are capable of seeing.
After our breakup, I returned to France and traveled my way through Europe for a month. I was heartbroken but I was liberated. There was an entire beautiful world out there, so much bigger than the one I had created in my fragile heart.
The independent woman I was before I met him, met me along the way.
The confident woman I was when I was with him emerged again as I discovered new cultures.
The stronger woman I became after him slowly showed herself to me as I looked back at myself in the mirror.
He disappointed me, but I disappointed myself more. I spent a lot of time regretting the vacation that broke the one thing I believed in and that broke me more and more as I continued to grieve.
Traveling with a significant other, even with family or friends, reveals more than you can ever imagine.
The way they discover the world, the way they interact with new people and the way they treat you in another city just might show you what's in store for the future.
Maybe I've spent too much time overthinking our failed relationship and the vacation that could've ended differently, but I don't regret it one bit.
I lived through new experiences with someone that once meant so much to me and that was just one chapter in my life.
I believe there will be more opportunities like this with myself, with my friends and with future loves.
Now I know not to be afraid to be myself, to reveal my scars and wounds, to express nothing but honesty in all matters as I venture out into the rest of the world I've yet to discover.