I know I'm not the only one. My parents divorced when I was almost 11, right before I went to middle school. They sat my brother and me down on the patio in my backyard and I knew it was serious stuff. Being only 10, I thought this serious talk meant we were going to Disney, but both my parents started crying so I was quickly confused. I can't remember what was said exactly, but the word 'divorce' came out and it felt like the poison of a deadly snake.

This became my most embarrassing and well-kept secret from now on, waiting only until we ran as far as we could into the woods, going to my best friend Hannah's house to tell her that my parents wouldn't be living together or married anymore. She seemed terrified when I told her, and we held each other and cried wondering if we would ever find the love we watched in countless movies as we grew up.

Our entire lives, especially as a little girls, we were taught that, when two people fall in love they get married and live happily ever after. But what are you supposed to think when Mommy and Daddy can't stand to be in the same room as each other unless it's court mandated? My parents divorce definitely was not the worst I'm sure, but it absolutely affected my perception of love and, to this day, I am still struggling to define it for myself.

Together, my parents brought two children into the world, things most people would still consider a beautiful miracle, and I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea that they had just 'fallen out of love' after all they'd been through. They were married for about fifteen years--that's a really long time, but definitely not what I had in mind when it came to marrying my soulmate one day. Everyone hopes that love will last forever, but after all that I've been through as a child of divorce, I'm not too sure that's true, and I will patiently wait for the person who proves me wrong to come into my life.

"Is love real? Or is this just lust?" I ask myself as I reevaluate the end of my first real relationship. It took me a few bogus relationships in high school, but in my most recent relationship, I really think I had found the closest thing to true love thus far. I still won't ever be really sure but it damn felt like love. A lot of people have their parents or an admirable couple to look up to and aspire to find a love like theirs. My parents weren't in love anymore--they were stuck in a relationship where they had only one thing in common and it was their children. So, they even resented us at times. This made me think--is love real?

My first real love burnt a magnificent bright red for the better part of two years. This taught me that, yes, love is real. We would do just about anything just to be with each other: we supported each other, he knew my fears that I had never told anyone, my childhood dreams and he even loved me enough to consider marriage. Circumstances of both being young and ambitious came along and we thought it would be best to end things before they got too messy.

Although our love for each other still lingers, and actually burns brighter than many people who are still together, I have started to really think about love. Is it made to last? It's been over a year since my love and I ended our relationship, yet the intensity of our feelings has not wavered. Am I being naive? Are we just kidding ourselves? I hope to marry this man one day. It's a bold thing to say for a child of divorce--many won't even consider the thought of marrying at all in their lifetime. I am trying to be hopeful. Being hopeful may destroy me in the end, but as Alfred Lord Tennyson said "Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

I will continue to be a hopeful dreamer because the alternative would leave me in a sick, sad state. And if this means heartbreak, well, then that's fine. My father broke my heart ten years ago when he left our family, and I got through it. What makes you think I can't make it through this? I will find love and I will get married. And if it ends in divorce, then so be it, because I know I will have put my all into my love and have no regrets.