The hurt reminiscent of a break-up claws deep within me; begging for an avenue of escape. Words— which I so often use to break sadness, clear confusion, or portray hope and happiness—feel grossly beyond reach. I pray to write something, anything, that will classify the mistakes, clarify the moments, and quantify the meaning that he brought into my life.
He and I dated casually for what became over half of a year. It wasn’t that I intended to fall in love with him. I understood what we were, but time has a way of changing circumstances and emotion. More than once— snuggly wrapped in the darkness of night while his rhythmic sleepy breaths acted as a metronome to my thoughts— I considered the dangerous place I was placing my heart. Before drifting off to sleep, I would think, “I really should stop seeing you…”
As rhythmically as his breaths bounced through the darkness, our non-relationship found a rhythm of starts and stops; pauses and plays. Sometimes he was there. Most of the time, he was not. Somehow, in all of it, I was mostly happy, but was ‘mostly happy’ enough to ask for in love?
In fairness, the “mostly happy” that I experienced over this past year focused more completely on the frustrations with my career and an uncooperative broken ankle than what he and I were or was not. He was the welcome respite and encouraging ear. “You’re doing amazing. You are amazing,” he would say. He taught me a new layer of respect for myself, gave me a higher level of expectation of how a date should treat me, and a greater determination to get through where I felt my life had stalled. When I was not happy with us, I would stuff pieces of paper, with his name on it, into my “Let Go” jar. What I learned from this is how amazing it is a number of times you can ‘let go of’ and “break-up with” someone who was never yours to let go of or break up with, to begin with.
I stumble upon the irony that it is categorically incorrect to call the longest romantic relationship of my entire life, to date, a “relationship.” That stings deeply and confuses greatly when I’m trying to figure out what to do about ‘us.’ There is no us, but I can’t help when he flashes through my mind while on a romantic date in Spain or riding bikes through the streets of Copenhagen with an attractive Dane. While hand-in-hand, bicycle-by-bicycle, I know that even if the person next to me was the most incredible human, maybe my incredible human, I would not be ready for him.
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I have been in love with someone who will never love me in the way that I want or need. Whether he was my boyfriend or not, the reality remains the same. I’m in a space of between— a space that might take a little bit of time. That’s ok though. My broken ankle taught that time does wonders on your personal world.
What you will learn is that hearts don’t speak in technicalities or have the power to translate titles. Your heart simply invests vulnerably and honestly. That’s part of why love is so beautiful. You don’t trick it, manipulate it, or force it. It happens with whom you are not expecting and in ways that you could have ever imagined. I could tell myself that I should have stopped the path that I chose before it hurt, but I learned so much about what it is to take risks and to care. I’m learning the resiliency of my own soul and that, in itself, is lovely. I don’t regret loving. I just wish that it was safer than it feels in this moment. Of course, no one wants to hurt.
I sit at his dining room table; fidgeting with the coffee he made. A porcelain cat rests in the center of the mug; surrounded and submerged by the motor-oil black liquid. I comment on the coffee cup’s ‘weirdness.’ “Are you sure you don’t want milk?” he asks again for the third time. I shake my head and continue to stare at the strange cat. This is all too strange. I don’t know where we go from here.
I stare instead of communicating. I stare away from him because after being away for a month in Europe, living your dream life, that changes everything— except love. When you love someone, the distance apart is only a momentary distraction from the place that your heart stays. Your heart doesn’t travel as fast or as far as airplanes fly. Remember that the next time you try to travel away from your heartache.
I didn’t travel away from him hoping my feelings would abruptly cease. I luckily landed an amazing trip on the only aircraft like it in the world— choosing to turn a week work pairing into a month-long celebration of the adventures that I wanted. I was happy! I had no interest in quickly rushing back into his arms, so we could finish the conversation that had started before I left. The conversation about what I wanted and what we were to do about our non-relationship. His arms were inconsistent at best, but he had become a sort of comfort. He knew how much I had grown and changed over the past year. I didn’t have to worry about explaining myself or that he would be mad at me for wanting so badly to travel and pursue my dreams (so many men don’t like that about me fyi). During this trip to Europe, I saw the magic that he and others tell me is within my spirit. I felt it. I made the important realization that I could be happy— with or without him. That I could love him, or care deeply about anyone for that matter, but continue to live vibrantly and passionately; loving and accepting life exactly the way it was.
Before I left for my trip, I was certain that I could adapt my life to fit his, but once away, I wrestled with how I felt like a complete version of myself. I questioned if he was right for what I ultimately wanted. “I don’t want to be the one who holds you back. You have so much more in your life,” he would repeat. I didn’t have a strong argument to his logic. I knew that I wanted someone who would go with me; someone who felt like my partner and counterpart. Someone present. Someone who really could NOT envision living without me. Because isn’t that love? You should never have to convince someone to spend time with you, sacrifice for you, and compromise with you. You aren’t going to get perfect or magical 100 percent of the time, but you do deserve to be a priority. I’ve allowed myself to be a convenient addition to someone’s life as opposed to an essential part. That’s ok because it worked for me then. I believe by writing this, I’m acknowledging that it really isn’t anymore.
I don’t intend to write this person in a bad light. No one has done anything wrong. The choices that we make lead us to the challenges that we face— which ultimately allows us to grow. And, growth is a beautiful state. More than I see the non-relationship as a challenge and heartache, I see him and our friendship as a gift. The people in your life, whether they love you back or not, can teach you so much about what you want and who you are. Their choice to reciprocate your feelings is never your responsibility. It’s not about you being pretty enough, good enough, home enough, here enough, there enough, young enough, old enough, ready enough, ANYTHING ENOUGH,— none of that is why they don’t love you. Never allow the way someone else loves to dictate the way you choose to shower love upon the world. Love the world. Love people. It needs it. We need it.
And Please be YOU enough. Exactly ‘as is.’ You will eventually be rewarded for it.
In English [writing], there exists square brackets— often inserted to add non-essential detail to a sentence. If the words between the square brackets are removed, the thoughts remain unchanged. Everything is understood [with or without]. My friends keep telling me, “You look so happy. You seem so at peace.” I smile and say, “Yes. Yes. I am very happy.” What they don’t hear or know is that I say that while the complications of unrequited love tangle at my heart. And, it’s ok. It’s ok because it means I’ve been living as “ME Enough.” The me that loves and cares and considers and hopes and desires companionship. But, [with or without him], I am happy.
And maybe, all that I am saying in all of this is that I am growing into a place where, regardless of circumstances or situations, of someone loving me or not; of skinny or fat; pretty or perfect, I can find reasons to be at peace, walk-in gratitude, and face my insecurities directly. Maybe, that’s why everything has flipped in my world. Maybe, that’s why my adventures feel more unreal and undeserved than ever before. Maybe, that’s why love is about to flip too. Because I am simply happy and unwilling to force what I cannot force and create what I cannot create. In my career, in my relationships, and in my life.
I don’t know exactly what will be for my future, but I am happy; and how powerfully precious those three words are.
And in case you were wondering, no, he doesn’t read my blog.