I take issue with the phrase "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" or the notion that trauma or adversity can be justified because it "makes you into the person you are". We don't need pain to become whole, but we can remain whole or regain our wholeness despite pain. It becomes difficult and eventually unimportant to question the constitutions of our character had it not been for our suffering. The realm of the hypothetical can oftentimes become a very slippery and ultimately treacherous slope that has the capacity of moving us so far away from ourselves that we can no longer be present and conscious of our inherent worth. We become fixated on blame, shame, guilt and regret.... and of course so much anger.
Did they feel different? Or am I just so easily affected. Perhaps it wasn't them after all, maybe it was just more of me that i got to know and learned to love and show. The memories of them plastered in my mind, their words echoing in my ears are what lead me to grief - the love they leave that taught me how to love myself. In the initial wake of their absence, I panicked and felt sick at the thought that I'd never be loved by them again, but I've learned to look at the instances when I've felt the most loved and appreciated by other people as cues on how I want and need to be loved. I've had a language of self-love crafted and handed to me by the universe through so many different people.
"I'm proud of you."
"You're my only priority."
"You're worth everything and more."
"You can trust me."
"You're so talented."
"You saved my life."
"I fucking love you."
These are things I now tell myself - in my own voice and for my own reasons. I've developed a sense of identity in the shadow of a lot of emotional pain and frustration that came from trying to live and be for the sake of other people. I've been exposed to so much of life through the eyes of other people that I have learned so much more about what I like and love and want to pursue. The way the world moves and dances is different to me, I hear music differently, I speak differently, I form new relationships differently, I react or respond to big emotional events differently... because of how much better I now know and want to honor myself. Even in leaving, they had a hand in teaching me how to love myself.
I always knew I must've loved them so deeply for a reason - for the love they leave and for the love they inspire me to give to myself first, and then to others.