A few weeks ago, I came home on a Friday night exhausted from the week. After dinner, I sat down, poured myself a glass of wine, had a bowl of homemade chocolate (yes, I made it) and proceeded to watch ‘Enough Said’, the James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus Rom-Com. I didn’t really realize the cliché scene I had set for myself until I was immersed in their witty rapport, and I was out of chocolate, but the movie had a great message nonetheless: we all have our faults, but by accepting them and exhibiting the willingness to compromise, we should be comfortable just being ourselves.
A few months ago, my fiancé and I called off our engagement. I accept responsibility for my mistakes including a lie that ended up being the catalyst for the erosion of our relationship but that inevitably, and thankfully, brought to light our biggest flaws and deepest fears. Over the past 5 months, I’ve been on a journey of self-exploration; a quest to recapture my self-worth, love, and confidence. Along the way, I’ve learned some valuable lessons that I think have put me back on the path to eventually love again.
1. Be the Best Version of Yourself
Somewhere along the journey with her, I had lost my identity rather than becoming the best version of myself. I wondered sometimes if I was in love with being in love so much that I overlooked her faults and flaws much to my detriment. I chose not to accept the realities of her true self and instead tried to change her, as she did with me, into a person that she wasn’t. We were both guilty of the same crime and involved in a relationship that became based on fear rather than love where acceptance and compromise no longer existed. I began to believe that I wasn’t worthy of being loved and that there was something wrong with me when quite the opposite was true. However, looking back on it, I know my feelings were honest and sincere, something I can be proud of and take with me going forward.
2. True Love is Unconditional
I invested my time and energy into a relationship often at times at the expense of my business, friendships and well-being for I loved hard and unconditionally–the only way I knew how. At the end, I would tell myself the cliché, “love conquers all,” and although I believed it to be true, it unfortunately wasn’t. There is a caveat to it though that I think is better suited which is that “unconditional love conquers all” and has no strings attached. There can never be an “I love you if” or an “I love you but”. Anything that follows those words is not love, but a desire to change someone into something they’re not. Unconditional love is never at the expense of your self worth but instead; it is what allows your best self to come out. I can honestly say I loved unconditionally and can bring that gift into my next relationship.
3. Never Give Up Your Passion
Where there is love, passion usually follows, and I almost gave up mine to save the relationship. I falsely believed that I could only have one or the other and that it was selfish for me to want both. Following a passion takes time to build and grow and love should support and encourage your passion, not diminish and break it. Love should lift you up when you are at your lowest and be the force that strengthens at your weakest. I was at the brink of destruction and fortunately, I was able to recapture my passion before it slipped away. Next time, I will be more protective over it.
4. Money Will Buy You Things Not Happiness
“When the money goes, so does the love.” These are the words I heard from the woman I loved; a declaration of fear that played into my own insecurities about money and success. The intersection of money, happiness and love was always at the forefront of our relationship as she and I grew up with different ideas about the importance and value of money. While money is used to buy cars, houses and vacations—things–what we really are trying to attain is a feeling of independence, freedom or security. Money can never be used to buy or keep love for it is never guaranteed, and at the end, I couldn’t promise the lifestyle that she wanted. By following my passion, eventually the opportunities and money will follow, as happiness can be a daily choice while financial stability is fickle.
So why did I reveal the slightly embarrassing fact that I watched Rom-Coms with wine and chocolate in my apartment? Because I enjoyed it and am not afraid to admit it! Do what you love, love yourself, and eventually, someone else who’s doing the same will watch that movie with you and join you on your journey. Although, I know my journey is always evolving, I have learned to love again, starting with myself. I acknowledge my flaws and shortcomings, work on them daily, and accept that I am better for it. Enough Said.
By Brian Jaffe