We've all heard the saying, "No one can replace your first true love." We've heard it at dinner conversations with our friends, in the novels we read and the music we listen to. And, rightfully so; no one should ever replace someone else. You can't take back the first time you felt butterflies for someone, the first kiss, the first time you let yourself be vulnerable. Being in love for the first time is an irreplaceable feeling, but that's the thing about the first time with anything -- it is rarely the last.
The second experience you have in love is not better because he is more established or more attractive; it has nothing to do with that at all. There's a beauty in the fact that, in the simplicity of it all, the second love saw you shattered. He got to see you wear a broken heart around like it was a statement necklace, and he didn't leave; he stayed. He peeled you back like an onion, layer by layer. He got to know the real you. The girl who laid in bed at night and questioned if she could ever love someone again. He waited, because he knew that, to you, even uttering the word "relationship" would bring back anxiety and fear. He was patient. He saw the 2 a.m. panic attacks when you realized you were beginning to have feelings for someone and was sure that somehow you'd find a way to mess it up. He was reassuring, on the days you didn't want to get out of bed and threw insane bitch fits in an effort to test him. He promised he wouldn't leave and, without even having to think about it twice, you trusted him.
You didn't understand why, or how, but suddenly, and almost accidentally, you found yourself falling. You know, this time, that your heart may be broken, but you remember that the first cut is the deepest, and, more importantly, you're aware of who you are. The second love gets to see the sense of self you gained from your first heartbreak. He sees a girl with hopes and dreams and ambitions; the girl you rebuilt from the ground up. It took you a long time, but you saw your heart begin to tear down the wall you had spent so long building up to protect yourself. You begin to find hope in yourself and in the little things, in the way you simply wanted his company and nothing more. You spend long nights talking on the phone, and when you get to the subject of past relationships, you no longer cringe at the thought of having to bring it up. It doesn't hurt; in a way, it almost seems like a different life. You learn something -- his heart had been broken, too. You'd never notice it, though, in the way he smiled or sang along to songs while you laughed at him for trying to hit all the high notes. In the way he so effortlessly made you happy that it seemed as though he had never been hurt. He understood you without even having to try. It terrified you, in the way skydiving does except, when you jump, for once in your life you find you aren't afraid of the fall. The first love says, "I'm not afraid," but the second love says "you are worth the risk" and finding someone who values your worth makes all the difference.