You Look Like You've Been For Breakfast At The Heartbreak Hotel

A year or so ago I wrote a blog post on lessons learnt through my twenties and the response I had was incredible! It was so great to hear that my "life lessons" resonated with you all so much, particularly the part regarding heartache. I kind of found this a little interesting that where matters of the heart are concerned we are all able to empathise with one another on a deeper level and since last year it's been on my "to do list" to revisit this subject. At the beginning of this year I asked you guys what topics you'd like me to write about and sure enough relationships cropped up several times! So I guess the decision has officially been made for me and although I'm a touch nervous about revisiting old wounds, I'm also happy to reflect back old relationships and the heartache I, along with so many others have experienced.

Heartbreak is a given in everyone's life at some point just like taxes, dental work and your smear test, there's no way of avoiding it forever. That's right I just compared heartache to a smear test; both very uncomfortable, both make you feel a little vulnerable and you've never been more relieved when both are over... The truth is no matter how definite heartache is at one stage or another, it still takes us by surprise with a feeling not too dissimilar from being smacked right in the stomach and no preparation can ever really prepare you for the hurt. I think it was possibly in a poem where the phrase "all is fair in love and war" was first coined but all I can gather from this is that he/or she had never had their heartbroken before.
Now obviously there is a slight pink elephant in the room that I am now happily in a relationship. This is true. So you might be wondering what on earth do I know about relationship woes? Well quite a lot actually. When you're on the outside looking in at someone else's life it's easy to forget you're only seeing a very small and very edited snapshot of that person. And when you're carrying the burden of hurt and heartache it's even easier to think everyone else's luck is in whilst yours is well and truly out. Categorically- and I have my best friends to vouch for me on this- before I met Joe I was the definition of unlucky in love.

First Love- First Lost

It kind of seemed appropriate to just start from the top and with my first real love. This is also in my opinion one of the saddest stories because it's the only one I feel like I personally could have acted differently... And by differently I mean better. The thing with first love is that no one ever really sits you down and tells you just how complicated it can be. You go through adolescence preconditioned by the films you watch and the music you listen to, believing love is eternal and the answers to all your problems (erm... actually maybe not, I was an emo so music technically taught me love was nothing but painful. Either way you get my drift). If only life were ever that simple- when has reality ever really imitated art? I'm sorry I feel like the Grinch who stole Valentine's Day here but "The End" in a film isn't THE END in real life. It's just no one really explains that bit. 

If your first love does happen to be your one and only than I'm truly very happy for you! You're living proof that "the one" still exists out there. But from my own experience first love or should I say "teen love" at least didn't necessarily end up being forever. The reason "teen love" doesn't last for the majority of us is simply because we're not quite the person we will come to be just yet. As a teenager your life isn't quite ready to be shared and split with another. Not that this makes young love any less important or the pill of heartbreak any easier to swallow but it's just an epiphany you have later on down the line. I'd say my first real love and real relationship was when I was just 17 years old and he was a few years old than me. In retrospect this is probably where the problem would always lie. You see I'd say from the age range of 17 years old to 22 years old, it's this really awkward period whereby technically on paper you're not that far apart in age but in maturity you’re miles away! It’s that stage in your life when you’re finally away from the politics of school and you’re free to really get to grips with who you are. You learn about your likes, dislikes, you establish your own moral compass and you really feel like your opinions are entitled. You basically grow into the person you're naturally supposed to be and at 17 you'll think you know it all but come 22 you'll realise you didn't. 
I always look back on my first real relationship with a sense of heartfelt nostalgia and I'm always surprised in hindsight at how much growing I still had to do. I was still so immature and my reactions then aren't even a shadow of how I would act today. I was with my first "real" boyfriend for around 2 years-ish. I probably didn't realise it then at 19 but I've done a lot of growing up in those 2 years. Unfortunately this means also growing apart. I didn't want the same things I wanted at 17. I was going to start uni, I wanted this glitzy career in fashion and to live this super exciting, party lifestyle (oh 19 year old me you had so much to learn). I just couldn't see how this boy would fit in with my life aspirations and I couldn't for the life of me understand how he didn't feel the same? I genuinely couldn't get my head around the idea that he STILL wanted to be with me. If I'd changed than surely he must have too? 

Ugh it's the only real thing in my life I feel genuine regret for. I'd like to think cruelty isn't in my nature but unfortunately it was only a few years later when I was then at a similar age to him that I understood how he felt and how little compassion I'd had at the time. It was that real clarity you find when you step far enough away from something and you see the full picture- unfortunately in this case it wasn't a pretty one. Obviously that was 10 years ago and although I would never dream to clear the air with said person because we're effectively in another lifetime, I still feel a little ping of guilt in my gut from time to time. Not just because I'm able to see my faults but because I was able to see what he really meant to me at the time. Your first love will play an extremely pivotal role in your life no matter how long or short it may be.
This particular relationship taught me what companionship truly was and to fully understand feelings of security you can only really find in a best friend. It's crazy but in essence he really helped build the foundations for the kind of person I am even today. From Wes Anderson to Studio Ghibli, to Band Of Horses and Phoenix I'm really not ashamed to admit that a lot of my taste levels were established through this one relationship! That's not to say I regret my decisions- please don't think I'm declaring my undying love here, I have no doubt that we are now nothing but strangers with a few shared memories- I simply regret the way I went about it. This relationship didn't teach me that one burning question, "Where does love go when you fall out of love" but it did teach me the irregardless love for a friend will never really leave you. 

Be careful what you throw away, the bridges you burn and understand heartbreak works both ways. 

A Leopard Doesn't Change His Spots- Neither Does A Cheater.

Ok so I've actually spoken about this relationship before in my "lessons learnt" post and although I'd rather not repeat myself, it was also the relationship I learnt a heck of a lot from and I actually think it might be the one a lot of you will empathise with sadly. I was twenty something and thought I loved someone. Confusing the IDEA of love from real love, is a common mistake which can lead to a shed load of tears. At the risk of going over old grounds, I'll try and keep this one brief but let's talk about cheating. 
Cheating is- not to state the obvious here- one of the worst ways any relationship could end and in a way the one "ending" with the least finality to it. The strange thing about being cheated on is the loss of control which comes with it. There's no closure, there's no parting ways and it's not agreed from both sides. It's one of those horrible situation with a lot of unanswered questions and built up anguish that you have absolutely no say in. I remember throughout my entire relationship with this one boy knowing deep down he wasn't right for me and I knew he was being unfaithful even before it came to a real head (Memo to cheaters everywhere- please don't use your boyfriend/girlfriends laptop to message other people and then casually NOT delete the history. Show a little decorum please) but in some really strange way that made me more determined to make it work. And in an even stranger turn of events it made me think I loved him more?! What! Every time he broke my heart, I would put my own hurt aside to concentrate purely on his feelings. How I could make him change his mind, think differently and love me like I loved him. 

Weird right? Well not when you're that besotted with someone and you have them in front of you telling you everything you want to hear. It's always easier to believe a nice lie than a bad truth. How does the saying go? You can't polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter? A crude but accurate representation of this relationship. Essentially he changed me as a person, slowly but surely wearing away at my confidence and making me doubt myself continuously- ironic when you think I'm the one desperately trying to change him! I'd lost sight of who I was and what I wanted because our relationship had become too one sided towards him. Annoyingly if I'd witnessed this same situation happening to a friend I would have been the first to sit her down and shake her hard, as my friends did with me! But hindsight is a wonderful thing, mainly because there's no longer a load of feelings flying about distorting your vision.
It took me a really long time to fully find closure on this relationship and at least 9 million plays of Taylor Swift's Red album because although I knew our relationship was doomed I still felt some sort of love for him and I still in some way blamed myself. It wasn't until months later when I saw the wood through the trees, I realised no matter who you are or what you do in life you can not and will not change a cheater. And I know, I know! Mistakes do happen and I can't speak for everyone's relationships but a serial cheater does so not because of you or the next girl but purely because they can't help themselves and they will only carry on doing so because you condone it.

I remember crying to my mum, asking why he kept treating me this way and she said something which forever stuck with me, "if you want him to learn his lesson than you need to accept he can't do so with you"... Why are mum's SO good? Never has a truer, more comforting word been said to me. It was a lightbulb moment. If someone continually hurts you and you keep taking him back then there is nothing to be lost from them hurting you again. It's that simple. 

You can't change people but their actions can change you. Make sure you choose those that surround you wisely. 

There Is No Better Person to Teach You Self Love Than A Narcissist.

Ok so this relationship is what I call a "non-relationship". You know the one which doesn't have a label to it? The one you can kind of go along with and pretend you're both SUPER relaxed about?  The one where you can't really call him your ex because you were never "official" but equally it went on an awkwardly long time to not call it anything? Yeh well we've all been there and this is mine. So in truth I had gone out of the frying pan (from my last cheating boyfriend) and straight into the fire. In essence I really should have learnt to be a lot happier on my own and for a lot long before getting myself caught up in this hot mess. 

I've no doubt this is a familiar story for many but this guy ultimately made me feel like I was dispensable. No one is dispensable. And like my life was in some way inferior to his. No one is inferior to anyone. I guess it's important to remind you that my self esteem is already at an all time low, when someone is belittling you (subconsciously or not) it's so easy to believe the phrase "he's too good for me"... But no-one is too good for anyone.
He was a musician with a pretty time consuming schedule, I'll give him that. But he would pick me up and drop me as he saw fit, he would go off on tour and not speak to me for weeks. Hardly the signs of a healthy, budding relationship I know. But I went along with this set up anyway because half of me didn't want another (none) relationship built on upset and the other half of me was too busy building this guy a nice, comfy pedestal to perch upon... Because that seems to be a thing we do when something is unobtainable. Don’t get me wrong I did call him out on numerous occasions but he just made me feel silly, small and like I was inconveniencing him. And because we weren't really anything I felt like I wasn't entirely entailed to get upset, so I just shut up and put up. Can I tell you a hard truth? If after months of dating someone they STILL tell you they don’t want a relationship than you have got to question how much more of your time they're worth? Because I guarantee you’ll be stuck in that same rut forever if you let them have their way. 

And I'm ashamed to say we went on in this yo-yo pattern of being picked up and dropped for a really long time. All the while I'm sat around waiting, all the while feeling totally undervalued and deflated. He was far too absorbed in his own life to ever consider anyone else’s. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel and as luck would have it if you're on repeat for long enough, you become bored and that's exactly what happened with little old me. Hallelujah! Dating someone who is effectively absent from you psychically and emotionally inadvertently means you have more than enough time to learn to be happy on your own. By the end of this very tedious, still nothing relationship I was self sufficient and the idea of depending on anyone else for happiness or self esteem seemed completely trivial to me. He was like an imaginary friend, I'd built up in my head that I no longer believed in or needed. Where relationships are concerned- you get back what you put in and the lacklustre I'd experience from this boy meant that in the end I too had run out of energy or patience. I simply didn't have the time to fit both a boy and his ego into my life anymore! His pedestal had officially fallen down or maybe I'd just built an even bigger, even better one for myself?
Whatever makes you continue a none relationship is totally your purgative! Maybe you don't have the head space for commitment right now or you're both uncertain of how exactly you feel. Maybe you're both just playing it too cool? That's fine if it's from both sides! But it has to have a time limit because you're both just holding each other back. For me I felt like we were at stalemate. I dragged it out because leaning on someone else for "the answer to happiness" was easy than finding it in myself when confidence was low. Ultimately I learned to be independent and there's really no more empowering feeling in the world. Self preservation is key!

To this boy- I hope that one day you learn to love someone just as much as you love yourself. Get off the bandwagon and put down the handbook.

The Greatest Love Of All- Lionel Richie Style

In some way I'm super thankful I got to experience the slight carnage that was my dating history because in hindsight it really did teach me to understand what exactly I wanted and more importantly what I definitely do NOT want or need. Heartbreak teaches you to step away from a situation (eventually) and understand what your limit is. It teaches you to self love a little more and become a teeny tiny bit selfish... "I know what I'm bringing to your life but what are you doing for me"? Maybe not as cut throat as that of course but every relationship is built around compromise and it's important to never forget that. Love definitely doesn't come easy in the wise words of Diana Ross but I am a firm believer that for every tear and twinge at your (very resilient) heartstrings there is most certainly a lesson to be learnt. If you're hurting right now, you're probably thinking this isn't helping but retrospect is an eye opener and you're just not there yet.

Fundamentally one of the biggest lessons you can possibly learn is that the affection of one and only one person doesn't/can't define your worth in yourself. We are so tough and so hopeful when it comes to relationships because we only really ever want happiness for ourselves! It's just that where love is concerned we sometimes have a funny way of showing it. But no love is perfect not even love for yourself. But it's worth trying.

Happy Valentines Day,
Sophia x

Outfit- Red Beret- Topshop, Tenenbaums Jumper- Shrimps at Selfridges, Jeans- Whistles
Photography- Rosie Butcher
Thank you to Infamous Diner- Manchester for your beautiful location!

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