For my 35th birthday, I gave myself the gift of a broken heart.

They say sometimes you have to just let things fall apart. I say, let’s be proactive about it—some things need to be smashed all to pieces before you grow old and die waiting for them to slowly erode away.

My heart was like a broken nose—misshapen, collapsed—and it needed to be reset like a motherf*cker. Like, choke-the-life-out-of-your-computer-by-holding-the-power-button-down reset. Is this analogy getting more and more violent? Oh, good.

I was in love! I was in love. This doesn’t happen very often to me and probably even less often than I think, since my therapist repeatedly tells me I have a habit of confusing “love” with “mild infatuation.”

But I’d loved this person from afar for years, all long-suffering, as I like to do, since I’m a Virgo (is that right? Is that something we do? Please tell me if not, so I can stop). Earlier this year, I finally worked up the guts to confess my feelings, which led to one single date, followed by a summer of missed hangouts and messaging that finally ended two days ago, when I detonated a bomb all over our sacred text window.

Why did I do it?

Clearly, he didn’t like me.

We knew each other in another context, and he used to message me a lot, but we only went on the one date. It was nice enough, but the following date was canceled with no mention of a reschedule, and over the course of two months, the frequency of his texts petered out, indicating a waning interest in seeing me again.

But when you have a big imagination, you can write the most spectacular narrative, one that ninja-moves around all these red flags, excusing obvious behaviors. He’s so busy, he’s torn between familial obligation and his own life, I thought. His feelings for me have taken him by surprise, and he’s scared and confused. Before you know it, you’re living a Lifetime movie, while he’s casually, low-key, very slowly ghosting you.

But I knew it, right? I did. We all do.

We can be great liars, but we always know the truth.

So, for my 35th birthday, I sat in my apartment, smoked some pot, and texted, “It’s OK if you don’t like me. I just think I need to hear you say it.”

He didn’t, actually. He never responded. That is literally how little he’s interested in me, which is a bitter pill to swallow, which is why sometimes you just choke that sh*t down however you can. Does it hurt like hell? Yup. Am I embarrassed, do I feel degraded, do I feel like an idiot and a loser and homely and sad? Yup, I do, because I’m hurting right now. But you know what else?

I needed to be hurt to move on. He was too cowardly to do it, but I wasn’t.

So it happened, and today sucks. But tomorrow will be better, and the next day will be better, and the next day will be better too. It’s basically science, right? And instead of starting this feeling-marginally-gradually-better process when he changes his relationship status or tags some random girl on Instagram and I finally allow myself to realize that he’s not coming back for me, I get to start today.

I know myself. And I told myself the truth. Wrap that up and put a bow on it.

Sometimes the best we get is what we are willing to give ourselves. We deserve it all, but we can’t rely on other people to give it to us, even when it seems like what we want also aligns with what they want and it’s such a no-brainer and would make everyone happy.

If everyone made good choices all the time, there would be no such thing as a DUI. I would love to see that. I would also love an in-unit washer/dryer. We can’t always get what we want.

So give yourself the things you need. Happy birthday. It’s all up from here.

Mikayla Park is a teacher/nonprofit creative person residing in the slums of Beverly Hills. Find her, and her two charming rescue dogs, everywhere at @mikaylapark.