Romeo and Juliet is arguably one of Shakespeare's most memorable and recognizable plays. Everyone remembers the star-crossed lovers, young Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, forever in love. People dream of having a love like theirs (I personally strive for a longer lasting, less rushed love where nobody dies in the end, but hey, that's just me). I read the play as a freshman in high school, and really fell in love with Shakespeare's stories. Everyone in my freshman year English class swooned over the timeless story, and talked about how they related to the story, but the story I related to more was the story of Romeo and Rosaline.
"Who's Rosaline?" you may ask. Rosaline was the woman Romeo loved before Juliet. "Wait, Romeo loved a girl before Juliet?" Yeah he did. He was so in love with Rosaline, that when she rejected him, he was so despondent he could not think of anything else. At the time, I related a lot to this tale of unrequited love.
At fourteen, I met a boy who was sixteen, but did not find me trivial or childish. We liked all the same things. He was great at conversation, and one of the most intelligent people I had ever met. He seemed like a match made in heaven. He was the puzzle piece that was meant to be next to mine. We became fast friends, and in the process, I quickly fell for him.
Secrets don't stay secrets long when you are teenagers, and somehow, he guessed or found out that I liked him. I was mortified that he knew, but I knew I couldn't deny it. It was obvious, and I had to deal with whatever repercussions were coming.
But surprise: He said he kinda liked me to.
To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. In my young, naive head, this was the beginning of forever. I was so lucky to have found somebody to love young.
But it wasn't that easy.
Because a few weeks after he told me he liked me, he was in a relationship...
With another girl.
I was completely crushed, and for some reason all I thought about how I could have been better and what I could have done to make him choose me instead, when really, he was a jerk that had played with my emotions, and I was still fabulous in every way. Even if he had been an upstanding citizen and a great man, him not loving me back was not, and never will be, a testament to who I am, and it would not define me. I am no less of a person because one person did not love me, and neither is anyone living with unrequited love.
Still, even though I had done nothing wrong, I was completely crushed. I thought this boy was it for me. He was my puzzle piece, but in actuality, we didn't fit together at all. But I thought he was my Romeo. Instead, he was my Rosaline.
Dealing with unrequited love isn't easy, the same as dealing with a breakup isn't easy. It's almost harder to love someone who never loved you in some ways. When I tried to talk about it with my friends I felt silly, because he had never been mine, so in the world's eyes, I had not really experienced loss. But in my heart, I felt like I had lost so much. But he was never mine, and he never would be.
Everyone deals with this loss differently. For me, it was talking about it with a friend, and finding a creative outlet for all the feelings I was feeling. My creative outlet was my music and my writing. It was all sad. Sad songs, sad poems, and sad stories. It may seem counterintuitive to add sadness on sadness, but for me, it was a way to express every little thing I was feeling in a world that thought I didn't have much of a right to be mourning. I also cried. I cried a LOT.
Often in my bedroom, behind locked doors. I am not one to cry often, but crying released a lot of what I was feeling. I still don't cry often, but I'm a big proponent for crying when needed. But even with all these home remedies, all I could really do was wait out my grief, and hope it went away or I found someone else to make these bad memories a thing of the past. And over time, it didn't hurt so bad. I didn't cry as much. My songs turned happy again, and my writing wasn't dark and dismal anymore. And in time, I learned to love someone else, even stronger than I had ever loved anyone before.
The more I went through life, the more I find that everyone has a Rosaline in their past, and it isn't easy to move on from that, and that's okay. It's okay to feel that loss, and it's okay to cope with it differently than others. Some may be jilted and find someone new the next day. Others may feel that loss for a long time. No matter what, don't let anyone tell you that what you are feeling is not right. As long as you are dealing with it constructively, then deal with it in your own time.
Fun fact, my story didn't end with heartbreak. Five years down the line, the boy and I were in colleges in different states and hadn't seen each other in a while. We were always friendly, but I always sensed he kept me around as a friend as a second choice, if his girlfriend didn't work out, I'd be there. Of course, I wasn't about that, and did not make much of an effort to be friends with him. He and his girlfriend broke up, and sure enough, when I came back from school for the summer, he was at my door, asking to go out sometime.
Let me tell you, it was so empowering to be the one that said no. I hadn't thought about him in years. I had long moved on. I had fallen for people that were not him. I had experienced what it was to truly be loved. I had been treated by a man how I deserved to be treated. I didn't need him. I didn't want him. Believe it or not, it gets better. That sounds cliche, but it's true. It may take a while, but it does. The pain soon becomes a dull ache, and that dull ache soon feels numb, and soon, all those negative feelings become happy. You can be happy. You will be happy. After all, Romeo found happiness after Rosaline. You can too.