The First Love

I read a story this morning on “The Fickle Heartbeat” that talked about the beautiful yet painful consequences of a first love. Because it was so well-written and moving,  I felt like I should comment on it, and this is what I said:

“This is beautifully written with great power and emotion. I would also agree that your first love never quite goes away, even through time and distance. He or she always seems to be right in the back of your mind, and just a song or an experience can bring all the feelings and memories back to light. I’ve come to realize that this might be because through the first love, you learn what love is and what love is not–and that is the hardest lesson that life can teach.”

That got me thinking. I have talked to many people about the lasting impact of “the first love”, or the first taste someone has of romance. Most of them noted that it was one of the most influential experiences in their life. “I still remember when his birthday is, even though it’s been thirty years. And sometimes, I dream about him too, and that scares me,” one person noted. Another said that it was true that a physical relationship with your first love ties you to a person’s heart forever–even if the actual relationship never works out. Yet another said that your first love is “like a gravy stain on your favorite shirt. It never really goes away, even though you may not want to be with that person anymore.” The last one noted that with the first love, everything changes, and after it is gone, so is naivety and innocence.
Depressing? It would seem so.
Why?
I have asked myself that question for months, and I think when I was typing the comment on that post today, I figured out the answer.
Your first relationship reveals your heart–in all its passion, selfishness, kindness, foolishness, and desire. It is based on every experience you watched friends or relatives go through, every break-up and marriage you witnessed, every Disney film you saw, every novel you poured through, every country song you heard, every Taylor Swift video you ever watched. All the dreams you had when you were younger, all the imaginations and wonderings and feelings….they finally become real.
Those dreams are then siphened through the screen of reality–some of them hold up and others break apart with the wear of real life.
You not only dream about love but you experience it–those concrete inescapable memories that incorporate every sense known to man.
You gain greater and greater insanity with every step–because let’s be honest, in many cases the first love is a whirlwind of foolishness and decisions that “seemed like a good idea at the time”, but later make us facepalm. The first love is often pure experimentation. And unless you are unusual, this experiment is like a lab demo conducted by two mad scientists throwing random chemicals into a bowl. Most of the time, it explodes–even though it might create some awesome colors in the process.
The first love lasts because it is not just a romantic experience. It is not even just a relationship.
Through it, you find out who you are. You learn what love is, and sadly, what it is not.
The question is…what to do about this?
I can’t really say that I have found the answer yet. But I know that the solution is not forgetting. The harder you try to wash away the memories surrounding your first love, the harder they will surge and build….until one day a tsunami will flood through the door of your mind. You can’t forget…it is impossible. Even if the memories are removed from your everyday thinking, they will appear in dreams. They will find a way to resurface.
You also can’t spend the rest of your life living in those black-and-white memories. “The past is in the past, let it go,” as Frozen taught us. That is very much easier said than done. The first love is indeed very powerful. But there’s got to come a point where you and I must pick up every torn page and every piece of shattered glass and carry them until our hearts are made whole again. It may not be right away. It may not be for a long time. But one day it will come.
Honestly, I think the answer to, “what do I do about my first love?” is a combination of holding on and letting go. You have to hold onto the lessons, the memories, because they make you who you are and they showed you what love was.
But if your first relationship makes you never want to try again, then the true meaning of love was lost. Love is about renewal and redemption–about fixing what was formerly broken and far from home. And if you are not willing to accept second chances for yourself, how will you ever be able to give second chances, or any sort of love, to other people? This is where letting go comes in. Moving on. Retracing your steps. Learning to accept those second chances as they come your way.
Learning to love all over again.
In closing, it is interesting and rather sad that many people feel the lingering effects of their first love for years down the road. But even in the sadness of that is the beautiful quality of all love–and the fact that it does indeed last forever.

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