I think my fascination with love started when my parents divorced. That probably sounds uncanny, but it was their heartbreak which led me to heal my own.
As a child, I began watching every romantic film under the sun, and grew a real attachment with every protagonist. I started writing entries of my days as a child of divorce and opened up to my diary as if it was my best friend. I have always been a daydreamer and I think that’s beautiful. I isolated myself as a child and didn’t have many friends. I used to have imaginary friends who I would talk to with a push of a button whenever I felt like I needed to cry, feel loved or rant. Tyler and Jasmine. Those were their names. Tyler was gentle with his words, while Jasmine told me things how they were. However, I could always rely on them to never leave.
As I grew older, I found myself ‘falling in love’ very easily. My standards were established through what I witnessed as a child. Therefore, the love I was receiving was not the love that I deserved.
I used to believe that if you give someone everything, they would have no reason to leave. So, I did. I gave and gave, not realising that I was giving parts of me that weren’t meant for giving. I soon realised that people see right through that and ultimately, leave.
“I don’t think you love yourself as much as you say you do. Go find yourself and if we’re meant to be, we’ll find each other again,” he said.
I'd be left questioning what “love yourself” truly meant.
I was convinced that I was already loving myself. I wasn’t thinking negatively, I was doing well in school and my family and friends were okay. Ignorantly ignoring all the comments about my character, I trusted The Notebook and told myself that if I stop trying, I would end up just like my parents.
So, I did it all over again. This time I learnt from my mistakes and stopped giving, I took a step back, and took the advice from the girls off Instagram: “If you stay mysterious, they’ll keep chasing”.
Jasmine became my alter ego and I started to be this cold, ‘mysterious’ individual who found love cringe and who hated love films. I created this persona of a girl who knew what she wanted and loved herself completely. This act went on for a while, and I actually convinced myself that that was me.
But this only just led to another heartbreak.
The hopeless romantic we once knew passed away, and returned to making herself happy.
And I am happy. Currently, as I write this, I’m smiling.
I still love romantic films and smile sweetly at the clichés, my diary is now digital and shared with the world, and Tyler and Jasmine are only there for me when I really need them – I guess good friendships aren’t forever too.
Sometimes the ‘love of your life’ won’t be the name written next to yours. Some people with whom we form friendships and relationships are only seasonal – and that is something I am okay with now.
As a child of divorce, I should be hyper-sensitive, lost, and broken because society has created this stigma, which I think should now be challenged. I think my parents’ divorce was a beautiful thing; two people who loved each other so much that they braved the decision to leave, to create the life they wanted for themselves. Their selfishness is something that I admire. Something that, I hope, I too would be able to brave one day - if it comes to it.
Yes, I am still a hopeless romantic, a cringe one too. The life lessons I went through are what have made me today. (I told you I was cringe).
“I don’t think you love yourself as much as you say you do. Go find yourself and if we’re meant to be we’ll find each other again,” I reminded myself.
I am still looking, but I think I’m getting there.
Reiham is a writer and poet. She is a student studying a BA in English Literature & Arabic Language at the University of Leeds. Her interests are poetry, travelling and performing. Her Instagram handle is @reihamamin.