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‘To love and win is the best thing. But to love and lose is the next best thing’

By @elleadefreedman


The first time I remember feeling confused about the idea of romantic love was at the turn of the millennium. It was a typical weekday. My grandma had a habit of dancing around the kitchen, spouting her Yorkshire wisdom. When she halted and said in her loud market caller voice, – “To love and win is the best thing, Adelle. But to love and lose is the next best thing”. 


I remember stopping, staring hard and blankly; I even threw a few deep blinks in there. What on earth is she rocking on about my little self-thought? I just couldn’t break the sentence down in my head. Panic rose in me. How can losing somebody be a good thing? 


Fast forward two decades. To date, 365 days have gone by since my ex and I broke up. It was a teary exchange at my local south east London park entrance. When the memories of that day, and us, occupy my space – the same lump in my throat rises. The same feeling I got all of them years ago sat on the kitchen worktop in my grandparent’s home. 


For some people, loving and losing is enough; they’ve had their win. They face their days with a comfortable hum within them, an acceptance that they are lucky enough to have experienced an out of body sensation emotionally and physically with another person. I envied these people.


That was not the case for me. Intense misery and loneliness took over. Drowning myself in songs that reflected my pain – the little energy I had was focused on my own self-pity and sadness. I had never felt this alone. The voice in my head twisted my positive thoughts into daggers that cut deeper and harsher each time—the idea of loneliness ruined every happy thought. I was surrounded by family and friends who tried so hard to mend my broken heart with their love. But it wasn’t enough; I didn’t want them – I wanted him. My mind had perceived, developed, and concluded – my story of love was over forever.


A year later – the contents of my head no longer a life sentence. Although creeping thoughts of romantic regrets haunt me on the occasional hungover morning or on a miserable Sunday night, what do I except? I’m only human. Trading the thoughts of fear and dread for optimism and hope, I feel blessed to have had the chance to explore the vulnerable chamber within me, which was locked shut for so long. My world is no longer a dystopia of ifs and buts – there are no more lumps to swallow. I know myself more today than I ever have before. I know

my body can endure dethatching pain, but more importantly, I know I am all that I need to heal myself.  


Thank you, Grandma, for teaching me that losing love has made me the biggest winner. 

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