There is nothing like ‘cuddle weather’ season to get a girl thinking about love. I’ve been reflecting lately on the different love sagas of my life – the unhealthy relationships I’ve endured, the amazing, epic love story I left. The more I analyze these pieces of my past, the more I feel like many of my relationships have been tough lessons in timing. Some were affected by the stage of my life and development I was at, when I wasn’t capable of the emotions and commitment I needed for the seriousness of the relationship. Others, from literal timing not being right – leaving home, studying abroad, and moving away.
But in the end, those changes were choices too, and I always chose to leave. I can blame bad timing for a significant amount of why certain relationships couldn’t work out, and I do believe that counts for something, but it also comes down to making decisions and seeing them through.
I’ve spent an unnecessary amount of my adolescent and adult life running away from people who want to be with me. I convince myself my vanishing act is about being independent as I grew up, giving myself time to become my own woman and forge my own path, not having to rely on anyone else – especially not a guy. Part of this is true; I do want to make sure that outside influences never make me feel better about myself than I do. I keep my chin up and my head held high, and with a couple of dangerous exceptions, I haven’t let boys diminish my self-worth in the long run. I’m proud of that. I’m happy to say that I’ve done things my own way without needing a guy to define who I am.
But recently, I’ve seen relationships from a different angle and it’s forced me to reevaluate my position. I live with a couple right now that has been together for eight years. They met when she was just a teenager. She is strong willed, independent and takes no shit. She is absolutely defined on her own terms and has her own dreams. Their relationship, from my humble perspective, simply makes her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin. He creates a soft, steady side to her that improves her own happiness.
Because of their relationship, I now often spend late nights reflecting on love, particularly love I’ve left behind, and it seems I’m haunted by decisions I’ve made to let go.
There is no cure for lost time. There is no ointment to rub over the ache of a heavily empty chest. There are simply two feet to be placed one in front of the other, over and over until a new path is formed through the time I have now. Until a new horizon is in sight and the kicked up dust and memories can settle into their place behind me, as they always do.
There was one love in particular that will remain my open wound. But the more I force myself to reevaluate what I want with love, the more I understand I have something to be grateful for. Beyond all the damage caused by various relationships, I’m thankful for experiencing love with someone who looked at me and healed those achy, shaking bones that were weary from running away all the time. It’s important for me to know there is someone in this world who for a fleeting moment allowed me to believe in love without doubt or hesitation.
I’m grateful to know how painfully beautiful it is to thirst for the company of kind hands and honest intentions and know they are waiting for you at the end of the day. I cherish how satisfying it was to fall effortlessly into a routine of secret little rituals meant only for two. I had a chance in this life to love someone and I was loved unconditionally.
Despite the mystical, safe world we created for ourselves, and as much as I loved him, I was more devoted to my pursuit of freedom and my aspirations of an independent life than I was to the home we had made within each other. I’ve avoided commitment and the raw, honest emotions that come with a serious relationship ever since the experience of that love. After all, it was my fear of being unable to reciprocate his willingness to commitment, my inevitable disappointment that ultimately made the decision to say goodbye.
It’s harder than I thought it would be to accept that. You see, once you meet someone that speaks to the dark, empty corners of yourself, it’s not easy to move them out of that space. You’ve already carried their best attributes as a part of yourself. But the good memories are what remind me that it’s out there: love. Although I’ve made a habit so far to walk away from it, I’ve also had someone prove to me that it exists. A healthy, equal relationship can heal.
So, armed with that knowledge, I’ve recently begun to force myself to step back and view the disheveled, poorly constructed walls built around myself as protection for people from my ultimate, unavoidable dismissal, and speak to my old demons. I’m ready to believe I will find that kind of a love again, I am even willing to believe next time I just might be ready for it.