There is a balancing act that takes place when you love someone unconditionally. Sometimes you find yourself needing more than they are capable of giving. You worry that if you start to make yourself a priority again, they will feel like you’ve turned your back on them. You worry they will think you don’t love them anymore. You wanna be that person that can hold the relationship together for the both of you, so you tell yourself that you can go without, that you don’t need that phone call, that that text message going unanswered doesn’t really bother you. You make excuses for their neglect. You don’t burden them with your petty problems. They’re going through a lot. Your issues with them won’t make it any better. You hold it all in. Eventually, you don’t know how to talk to them anymore because the anger and resentment eats away at you from the inside and spills out through every single “I’m fine” and “It’s okay”. And you cry. And you door slam. And you wonder if you’ve made a mistake. And you regret it. But you move forward. You lift your head up. You take care of yourself. And you love them. You love them silently, powerfully, and from afar.
I wrote this one year ago today. And surprisingly, it’s still relevant.
Life moves at a breakneck speed. If you don’t look up sometimes, you’ll miss it. It’s fucking surreal how quickly time flies, and how much we can change when we do it in small, almost undetectable increments. I am so different from the person I was last year, hell, even 6 months ago. I grow in spurts, I think. And I never really know until a situation presents itself and I react completely “out of character”. I notice the changes in me then, like shifting tides, I can’t quite find my footing but I go with the flow. I let it take me. My mind and my heart are constantly at war, but for the first time in my life, it seems my mind is getting the upper hand.
I lost two people very dear to me last year. Both who said they’d never leave. Both who said they understood me. Both who said they were my friend. And at first, it was natural to blame myself. Because that’s what I do. I internalize it all. Your shortcomings? My fault. I should be more understanding. Your disregard? Also my fault. I shouldn’t be so needy. You’ve hurt my feelings? Well, I should stop acting like people are supposed to treat me like glass. My feelings aren’t valid anyway. I should stop being so dramatic.
I went on this way for a long time. Thinking that it was all me, not holding people accountable for their part in the turmoil, putting their pain above my own. When I lost these two people in the same year, I began to reflect on the common denominator. What did I do wrong? What should I have done differently? How could I make sure not to repeat the same mistakes again? How do I break this obvious cycle? I still don’t have the answers to those questions, but I have learned something from all of this: my feelings are valid, and nobody has to understand them, respect them, or honor them but me.
My best friend told me I always love the broken ones. She’s right. I do. I always have. And I don’t think, as much as I have grown, as much as I will continue to evolve, that this one thing about me will ever change. My empathy and compassion for others is woven into the very fabric of my being. The way that I feel things… the depths to which I am willing to delve to be completely vulnerable and authentic with another human being, people aren’t willing to traverse those depths. And that isn’t a criticism at all though I know how it may sound. It’s a realization I’ve come to, and something I’ve had to accept about the world in order to remain a functioning part of it. I don’t judge anyone for how they fight to survive their own existence. I don’t know their skillset, their weaponry, or their history in battle. What I do know is what I have to offer the person that I love, what I’m willing to sacrifice in order to join them in their efforts, and just how sharp the sword I’d wield to slay their demons right alongside them would be.
But I can’t save anyone. Something else my friend told me. “It’s not your job to fix people,” she said. And for a while I didn’t think that that’s what I was doing. I didn’t think that the love I was craving was what I was giving so freely to others. Constantly drained, I never realized that I wasn’t ever getting what I was giving. Ever. I just thought I had a larger capacity for love than most other people. That if I just neglected my own needs, loved them harder, eventually, they’d see that I was worth it and they’d stop being so afraid to love me back. Some tried. Some didn’t. But never once during any of this did I ever stop to think about the bigger picture. The crux of it all. My love was unconditional and theirs wasn’t.
When I love, I love hard. I love fully. It’s powerful and overwhelming. It’s dizzying. People get drunk on it, lost in it, drowned from it. I realize I am pretty intense, but I also refuse to make apologies for it anymore. I’ve come to the realization that I’m probably going to be alone for the rest of my life because of this, but I am unwilling to settle for anything less than what I deserve now, and if people come up short, that’s okay. They just simply come up short.
I have no animosity toward the people I lost last year. I still love them. I always will. And I take responsibility for the things I did wrong. I’m not perfect by a long shot, but I’m real, I’m honest, and I’m always trying. I’m always doing my best. And if that isn’t enough for anyone that’s fine too. It doesn’t have to be. Because it’s enough for me. Finally. It’s enough.
Maybe some day I will meet someone who isn’t afraid to let me see them, someone who is willing to drop their shield, take off their armor, and show me what they’re really made of. I have done it so many times myself that the simple act of it comes second nature. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t remember what it was like to be afraid of it. I remember being a coward. I remember not wanting to let people in for fear of what they’d think of me. And on many occassions I’ve been used up and worn down from my inability to establish boundaries, but here’s the thing: I’m still fucking here. No one has ever had the power to destroy me. No one has ever held onto any piece of me that I was unable to take back.
I’ve grown fairly used to people not being able to handle the scars I so willingly uncover, the battle cry I so fiercely share, but someday, I hope someone will. Someday, I hope to meet someone who will love me just as fiercely as I love them, and not make me feel ashamed or delusional for the passionate fires which light my way. Life to me is made up of these small blazes… rolling, burning, consuming the world. We are all here for such a small span of time. A fucking blip in the universe. A blink and you’ll miss it. A blink. A kiss. A hug. Love. Love is the only thing that makes any sense in this absurd existence, and I am no longer willing to stifle mine for anyone else’s comfort.
I love you.
I love you.
But my heart is not your plaything.
Love me fully or not at all.