Around this time last year. I was on a break. I was on break from a girl who, at the time, was a really good friend that became a little bit more. The general idea was that we both had some feelings for each other, but we weren’t looking for a relationship. We started hanging out as “more than friends” in April. By the end of June, the elephant in the room was her upcoming venture to Costa Rica. She was going to spend a year there, to teach English and get exposure to teaching English as a second language.
The explanation for the break was that she didn’t want things to get to deep between us, when she was just going to leave. It would be much harder to walk away from things, if they were allowed to progress. She was set to leave in October, so four months of interaction world be quite significant to leave behind. I didn’t like the idea, but I had to respect it. This was what she wanted.
The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that this woman was special. For the first time in a while, I was positive that there was something unforgettable afoot. I had this unfamiliar feeling of being brave and fighting for the exploration of this. I reluctantly admitted that it was ok to feel what I was feeling and that it was worth the effort to pursue things. I recognized that there was something special being built here and I didn’t want to run from it.
By the middle of July, we were back in regular contact and were hanging out. We concluded that things were worth getting into and decided that we’d be open to things. We grew super close and eventually decided that a relationship was something that we could both get behind (and wanted).
The tl;dw (too long, didn’t write it) version of this part of the story is that I fell in love. I spent time with this woman and realized that I could have lots of things in common with someone. I did not have to hide how I felt and my feelings were ok. I felt validated. Most of all (importantly to me), I felt valued and I felt backed up. I had met someone willing to partner with me. We knew things would be difficult, but we were worth it to each other. I learned that I was able to feel and show love. It was lovely.
About 10 months later, I was told that the desires that we’d shared had changed. What she previously wanted in life had shifted. She loved being in Costa Rica and wanted to extend her time out there. She didn’t want to lead me on anymore, she didn’t feel like she could put the work towards keeping things up. This devastated me, of course. This was the first time I had fallen in love. That being said, I also always had an idea that she would do exactly this. She would get out there, she’d love it, she’d be held back by this person far away.
Even though this was not surprising, the severing of our connection did throw me for a loop. I thought that perhaps there would/should’ve been more of a fight for us. I could be encouraging of her getting to know a different part of herself. The truth was, I felt like part of loving this person, was allowing her the freedom to do what she felt was necessary for her. She was not my possession, but my partner (as long as she was willing). Once she stopped being willing, it was not my job to try to convince her, but to support the decision made and try to move along with the rest of life.
The New Rules
I learned that I was able to be vulnerable. I learned that I wanted to be vulnerable with someone. It was entirely possible for me to give myself freedom to invest in someone in unfamiliar and scary ways. I finally learned what it felt like to fall in love and what it meant to truly be selfless with it. However, I had these questions left over. I wanted to know what I was supposed to do with someone else. How did that look? What was it that I was looking for? The only real issue that I could see was that timing was incorrect. How do you move on while still kinda hoping that things are only finished for the time being?
For me, it included being comfortable enough to put myself out there for people. I decided to start seeing a therapist. I wanted to dedicate some time to myself. I also thought it might be a good idea to stop saying no so much. Saying no kept me from some potentially life changing and memorable experiences before. Had I just said no from the beginning, I would never have gotten to know the joys that make pursuing love worth it.
I also decided that I was worth making time for. That includes opening up space for the expression/development of ideas. I get to make big moves like actually talking about what I’ve been thinking/feeling. I deserve to give myself space to feel things and share those things, which will make me better at communicating and recognizing myself for the next time that I happen to take a chance on love. It’s a move that is necessary and inevitable (hopefully).
Here’s to fully committing to me, to figuring out what I want, to being open, and moving forward thoughtfully. What I’m looking for, is me.