If you have anything negative to say about After, I will probably tune you out. Why? Because After is a powerful story of love, growth, and finding yourself. Hardin Scott and Tessa Young’s journey isn’t perfect, it isn’t always right, but the road that they take is theirs. And if there is anything I know with love – the road will never be perfect.
THE WAY THEY BEGAN
I will be the first to admit that the way that Hardin and Tessa’s relationship started out is not okay. A bet? Yes, it made me so angry. Yes, I wanted to throttle him. I wanted to scream.
When Hardin made the bet, I don’t think he realized that he would fall for Tessa. But if we’re being honest, I think that he knew that he was attracted to her. I think that from the moment he met her, she challenged him, his thoughts and ideals. She made him want to be a better person.
But the thing is that he didn’t know how to do that and still maintain the facade that he was this man that didn’t care about anything. Every moment that they spent together was a moment that they both could grow from.
I know what you may think differently, but I do believe that because of her heart and the way that she brought him to life – Hardin wanted to make sure that she didn’t find out, because he knew it was wrong. However, the way that he tried to control and manipulate the situation wasn’t right.
No relationship will ever survive when it’s based on a lie, because it needs to be based in truth. It needs to have a foundation. Yes, this foundation was rocky, it was crumbling, and it had so many things that were wrong. But it also had so many things that were right.
These two are destiny. They challenge, they endure, and you love and hate them all the time. You see their imperfections and you see their strengths. You see everything about them at their strongest and their weakest. But you love them through it.
And they love each other .
Hardin made a bet that started the relationship with Tessa. It was wrong. It was dishonest. It was messy.
But the reality is that relationships don’t always start out perfect or honest. They are complicated and messy. But what matters is how you rise to the occasion. It’s what part of you is willing to get past the pain and find the strength in yourself that matters. Hardin and Tessa were willing to battle through the wrong, because them together is so right.
THE WAY YOU LOVE THEIR GROWTH
When Tessa finds out about the bet – her world is shattered. She gave up everything for Hardin. Her life was planned out. Every decision that she would have to make, she had made or her Mom had made for her.
If I was Tessa, I don’t know if I would be able to be so forgiving. But I also know that falling in love for the first time, you tend to forgive things that you normally wouldn’t ever forgive. I think for Tessa it was about the way that Hardin made her see that there was a life outside of a planner and predetermined dreams.
He challenged her, but she knew that even though he was an asshole that didn’t let anyone in, he let her in. But he also awakened a part of her that she didn’t know wasn’t alive. Tessa had been existing through her life, accepting what the world told her. She wasn’t seeing that she had her own life and her own strength.
But Hardin reminded her that she was human and that she deserved to live and love. She reminded him that his past was part of him but it didn’t define him.
The way that these two fit together, even though they were complete opposites, made them each try to be better people. They each wanted to protect each other – though it wasn’t always perfect or something that could be defined. It was something that made sense to them.
And it made sense to no one else.
It was as if they went into it knowing that they would experience hurt. Knowing that they would experience pain. But they would also experience a great joy.
That joy being each other.
Hardin realizing that he wasn’t doing himself any service by being consumed by the past. The past that everyone else could move forward from, but he felt trapped by.
Tessa realizing that her life was filled with lies, but the walls that she had built were just as high as Hardin’s. We all show our walls in different ways. They all break down in different ways.
Its a matter of what we learn from them and how we grow.
It is a matter of how we learn to communicate with each other. And these two may have taken a long road to learn it, but when they do its magic.
THE WAY THEY ARE ABLE TO BREAK DOWN WALLS
The scariest part of falling in love is letting down walls. Being vulnerable is scary. But let us all never forget Hardin’s letter – movie or book versions.
THE WAY THEY ARE ABLE TO LET EACH OTHER GO
Hardin and Tessa aren’t perfect. We’ve seen them break each other down and be there to pick up the pieces. We’ve seen them through their best and worst times.
When Tessa reaches the point where she sees that it is affecting everyone around them and that it is not healthy, there was a part of me that broke, but also a part of that cheered.
Because the real strength in life isn’t loving someone enough to let them go, it’s loving yourself enough to put yourself first. And Tessa did that.
You can have the time that you keep finding your way back to each other, that’s normal. But you will find a time when you know that you need to put yourself first. And if you love that person and you see them in that moment, the biggest blessing that you can give them is allowing them to have the space that they need to grow.
When Tessa tells Hardin that he has to let her go and not follow her, I want to scream and tell him not to do it. But I also know that it is necessary and the best thing at the moment. It’s the best thing for both of them
But it doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t break and that I don’t want them to stay together.
But the beauty in Hardin and Tessa is that they can let each other go. They can have that faith in their relationship.
I feel like reading the ups and downs of their relationship is a checklist of the things that I want and don’t want. And that’s the greatest thing, when you know that you are learning from a relationship and that you are taking everything from that relationship that will help you grow as a person.
Hardin and Tessa aren’t perfect – but just as the awaken feelings in each other, they do that for all of the readers that are out here trying to just figure out in their lives what love means.
THE WAY THAT STRUGGLES MAKE THEM STRONGER
As these two grow what you see is two people growing with, and independently of each other. What you see if them going through life’s struggles and figuring out what they want and need – from themselves and each other.
But one of the things that will always stick out to me from this series is when Tessa finds out that she can’t have kids. Lord, there is not enough words to describe that pain. Not enough anger to describe how you feel when he reacts.
There is a want to slap the shit out of Hardin.
But as usual what these two want is reassurance that they will be there for each other and they are not hindering each other. Hardin, I believe, never set out to hurt Tessa, even though he did all of the wrong things. Tessa never set out to hurt Hardin, she just realized who she was and put that first.
The thing is Hardin is always there for her. He’s not always kind, he’s not always perfect – but that’s what makes him desirable. YOU KNOW THAT HE IS PERFECTLY IMPERFECT.
Tessa is not always there for Hardin, but YOU KNOW IT’S BECAUSE SHE IS FINDING HERSELF.
Hardin and Tessa struggle. They will break up to make up and many people will judge that. Yet, relationships aren’t ours to judge. They are ours to support and realize that everyone is on their own journey.
With Hardin and Tessa, every struggle – from finding out about the bet to not being able to have kids to having them – and everything in between made them stronger and helped them know what was worth fighting for.
THE WAY THEY ARE ABLE TO FIND THEIR WAY BACK
Lets all talk about their time apart. God, again, something I knew that was necessary but nothing that I wanted for them.
When Hardin goes to New York to see Landon and you know – YOU JUST KNOW – that these two can’t get it right. But it doesn’t mean you don’t want them to. Hell, you think they are going to get it right until Tessa finds Hardin’s book.
There was a part of me that never understood why she got so mad, but that part is small. You just know that these two started out with their relationship built on a lie and so it is no surprise that Tessa is upset. Once again, he hasn’t told her the truth, so why should she believe it now?
My heart breaks when they don’t find their way back to each other, but growth is on no one else’s terms.
It’s on your own.
And years later they find their way back. But it wasn’t done to wrap up the series and give it a happy ending. Because just like it has been, it will continue to be struggle bus city.
But for Hardin and Tessa everything has been a struggle bus. Yet, when you have someone beside you that gets that and understands, the struggle is less and love is all you’re left with.