By Rebecca Jane Stokes

The love we hold on to for the people – with whom we are no longer romantically entangled – doesn’t go away

Getting over someone is impossible.

There. I’ve said it. I wrote it down.

I’m not saying this because I am jaded (though I am, to a degree) or because I’ve grown cynical about love.

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If anything, I think getting over someone is impossible because I believe in love more than ever, and it is the heartbreak I have experienced that has enabled me to move on to better, happier, loving, long term relationships.

You can’t “get over” someone because the people we choose to love and the heartbreak that comes when we lose them aren’t a case of food poisoning or a particularly large zit.

You can’t get over a person, but you can move on from them

Even if you never see that person again after a serious break up, the impact that they made on your life is undeniable, and that’s true for better and for worse.

When people ask me how to get over people after a divorce or a breakup, here’s what I always say: you can’t get over a person, but you can move on from them and make your next relationship better because of everything you learned from them.

If I had not been rejected by the first boy I ever loved, if I had not wept into my mother’s shoulder crying when he answered the email declaration of love I sent him with a “thanks but no thanks” response, I would never have known the tremendous high of falling for someone, nor would I know the tremendous crushing feeling that breaks every part of yourself when the person you love does not love you back.

That experience I moved on from, but I don’t think I ever “got over it”.

I deserve to be loved as fiercely as I love, and so do you

Because I went through that experience, I learned how to protect my heart – not to close it off, but to proceed wisely and cautiously and not to give my heart away to the first fool with frosted tips who could rock a pair of Oakleys (no this was not Guy Fieri).

When I fell in love with a man who abruptly cut me off, ghosted me, after nearly a year, I did not think I would ever get over it.

Truth be told, I didn’t get over it.

But I did move on.

That experience taught me that if I find myself chasing a man, begging him to love me, cajoling kisses that feel as necessary as oxygen from him, forcing every possible moment, then the relationship isn’t one I want to be in.

I want to be loved as fiercely as I love

I deserve to be loved as fiercely as I love, and so do you.

Do not doubt this.

When I say that you can’t ever get over someone, I don’t mean that you can’t mourn.

Sob. Wail. Gnash your teeth. Write bad poetry. Pin inspirational quotes about love and heartbreak in pretty fonts on your Pinterest page. Drink too much. Buy a cute dress you can’t afford. Eat mountains of ice cream. Sing, loudly, badly, and with all your heart. Cry yourself to sleep. Exercise.

Be good to yourself. Allow yourself to be sad.

Just don’t set an unreasonable expectation for your heart.

Your biggest romantic disasters? The one that got away? The “what if” guy? They are all markers who are supposed to be on your plan, listed on the map of your heart

Don’t set an unreasonable expectation for your heart

After all, you chose the relationship you were in, even if he was a monster and you deserved better, you chose to be there.

Of course, you still think about it, of course it still causes you a twinge in your heart.

The key is learning to make space for that twinge, for those memories, for that experience.

Don’t try to forget them, to banish them from your mind and your heart, because they are an invaluable guide, a map to love as it is meant to be.

Your biggest romantic disasters? The one that got away? The “what if” guy? They are all markers who are supposed to be on your plan, listed on the map of your heart.

Some people we will date have a hard time with that. To them I say, I am the person you love because I never got over these other people.

It is what I experienced with them that made me this version of myself, the version that can love you fully, with trust and honesty, directly, and unflinchingly.

The love we hold on to for the people we are no longer romantic entangled with doesn’t go away.

Love doesn’t work like that, so don’t try to make it.

Instead, take that love and those feelings of being broken hearted and watch how it can transform, uplifting you and making you the version of yourself that you were always meant to be.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.