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the heart that i have.

When facing life-altering scenarios, often, I feel like we spend an overwhelming amount of time in our heads pouring of the "whys" of the situation. I know that I have been in that headspace lately. I lie awake at night wondering what I did wrong. Pouring over the moments that lead me to believe in the realness of a relationship that I valued. Why did this happen? Could I have prevented it? Did I miss something? Was it me?

I have reread text messages. Replayed conversations. Relived moments that meant the world to me at the time looking for the signs that I missed. It is so easy to consider all the places to lay blame. To wonder if I'm the reason that things didn't work out. Why was I not enough? I don't say that in a "poor pitiful me" tone, but more in a matter-of-fact, "it is what it is" kind of way.

Perhaps the most terrifying thing for me, was having everything that I believed in, everything that I trusted in, denied on national television by the only other person that lived those moments with me. I say terrifying because that denial has caused me to doubt myself. To lose trust in my ability to know who truly has my best interest at heart. To lose trust in my judgement. I know that I am trusting to a fault. Possibly even to the point of naivety. I know that about myself. I am an optimist and I tend to believe that people are inherently good. I take people at their word and give them the benefit of the doubt. While this all sounds like a good thing, it has often times left my heart exposed. I hide behind a tough exterior, but I know that there is a hole in my armor that leaves my heart wide open to those that might have ulterior motives.

I am uncertain whether this particular situation actually was born of ulterior motives, but what I do know is that my heart was not valued. I am very aware that I made mistakes. There are so many parts of myself that I compromised in order to support the person that I thought that I loved. I was never acting out of malicious intent, contrary to what a lot of the general population believes, but more out of a place of trust and perhaps a little bit of insecurity.

I have always prided myself on my strength. I have strived to be a role model, even from a young age. It has always held me accountable to try to be "my best self", (There's that idea again) but often times has turned into more pressure than accountability. I find myself feeling guilty when I don't live up to the expectations that I set for myself.

This situation was no different. I watched someone walk into a situation that ultimately broke someone else's heart. I could never have known that that would be the case, but even still that was the outcome. I have questioned my strength in letting someone walk away from me like that. In hindsight every part of me wishes that I provided an ultimatum. That I had told him to choose me. I have since realized why I never laid down that ultimatum. Why I never explicitly made him choose. I think the truth is that subconsciously I knew that he wouldn't have chosen me. He wanted the platform and the opportunity more than he wanted me. I wonder now if deep down I knew that and instead of standing up for myself and doing the 'strong' thing, I did the 'safe' thing.

Someone sent me a DM on Instagram after the initial People article came out and said that while she understood my reasoning for saying that my decisions weren't 'strong woman' decisions, she let me know that she disagreed. She said "sometimes we just do the best we can with the heart we have." That message stuck with me because she is so right. I let my heart lead me and while ultimately my decisions were not perfect, they came from a place of love. They also taught me what to expect the next time that I am met with a decision regarding a relationship. Next time, I will hold myself to a higher standard. I will know that I am far more valuable than coming in second to an opportunity for fame.

I look forward to the day that I can build a life and a partnership with someone. I can't wait to find someone that doesn't want to set me aside to chase his dreams, but that wants to lean on me and stand beside me all while pushing me to achieve all of my dreams in the process. In the meantime, I'm relearning myself and when I meet that person the 'heart that I have' will be ready to love and support his. I won't run from love or hide from intimacy, but rather reserve my heart for the man that will cherish it above any "opportunity".

<3 Haley


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