The first time I got my heart broken I was 15. His name was Ryan and he was funny and quirky and made me laugh. He made me cards and held my hand and snuck me shy kisses behind the tennis courts on our free periods. He wrote me silly poems and sang to me off-key and waited for me so we could have lunch together. Then one day I saw a math test he had failed when it fell out of his math book; I asked if he was having trouble and offered to tutor him and he stopped sending me cards and meeting me behind the tennis court and waiting for me at lunch. A few weeks later he was dating a freshman who smiled a lot and liked to make jokes and who probably never offered to help him with his homework.
I was sad for a while. I thought that something was wrong with me and agonized over what I did wrong. I asked all my friends if she was prettier than me. I concluded that I had bad hair but she was kind of horsey. Some days, I wondered if I had done more than kiss him behind the tennis courts if he would have stayed, and others I wondered if he left because I was too easy. We had only been going out for a couple of weeks, after all. When I was angry I would tell everyone that he was just insecure and my friends would assure me that I was a great catch and he wasn't good enough for me anyway. Finally, one day, I met a new boy and forgot all about Ryan and concluded that I didn't really care about him as much as I thought I did after all.
This weekend I was talking to my friend Min, who has spent the last 6 months in an ambiguous non-relationship with her ex-boyfriend (who happens to be P's best friend). A month ago she drunkenly decided to show up at his house at 3 in the morning to get some action only to run into another woman showing up for the same reason. It was, to say the least, ugly and she ended things with him. This weekend I was listening to her tell me how sad she's been when she asked me, hopefully, "the first time you get your heartbroken is always the worst right?"
I think she wanted me to say that it was, and to reassure her that she would never feel this low or agonized over a man again. That heartbreak is a right of passage that we all soldier through once then look back on and laugh at proudly, like, hey, I beat you! What I thought, though, is that it never gets easier. The situations may get more complicated and feelings more complex but in the end it's just like it was the first time. We wonder what is wrong with us or what we could have done differently; we vent our anger to our friends who lovingly tell us that we can do better; and we move on.
A few years ago I was heartbroken over an inappropriate man and one lonely, desperate night while sobbing on a friend's couch I asked him when I would stop getting hurt and he told me, "when you choose someone who's right for you....maybe."