I went out with a friend Friday and in the middle of a really good conversation I started to cry. I was embarrassed. I didn’t know why I was crying at first and afterwards I kept revisiting it. What was that all about?
She was talking about her life and I was listening intently, deep in what she was saying, and then suddenly I was crying. It was a simple acknowledgement, one I’ve personally made long long ago, but it just felt so fresh. It pained me deeply that this beautiful thing she has might one day fall apart too.
I want so badly to believe that sometimes it stays. I know a relationship’s length isn’t a measure of its success and often the end is the healthiest thing. Staying forever just to rack up anniversaries or limp along unhappily is a fucking shame. It’s a waste of life. We have one precious existence here. One. And to stay unhappy is a much much sadder and bigger travesty than the simple fact that most relationships end. Most of them end. I know this and I’ve known it forever. It’s why I avoided relationships for so long. It’s why I had casual sex and casual things for so long before I committed. If I never really got vulnerable then I could never really be hurt.
The fear of being hurt kept me from pursuing connection, love, and happiness. I wasn’t hurt, but I also didn’t live. I wanted to have the beauty of the thing. I wanted it. So I loved. I risked it knowing full well what I was risking. I didn’t have the fairytale beliefs of most girls. I got married. Twice. I was young and stupid the first time and chose better the second and it still ended. There were years and years of happiness and then there wasn’t. Then there was unbelievable and senseless betrayal and cruelty and meanness. Then there was everything I ever feared. I remembered being in my happy marriage, having survived so much together and come out the other side, thriving. I thought we’d never be where we were. I actually stopped fearing it. My entire life I’ve been processing abandonment and I finally and fully trusted and I was wrong.
I’m creating a better bedrock for myself. I’m relying on myself and I’m good at being alone. I’ve been a Navy wife for years and one thing it taught me was how to be utterly independent and self-reliant. I’m relying on friends and on my loves too and I am honestly so blessed to have such loving people in my life. I’m building a better thing and I have to admit that most of the time I’m pretty happy. I’m healing. But every now and then I hit a little landmine.
And here’s one.
I’m afraid. It’s all fine and good to say that I’m good at being alone and it’s utterly true. But I don’t want to be alone forever. I don’t want to. I know most relationships end but I really really really want to think that sometimes they don’t. I’m not talking just about romantic relationships either. If I could even have faith that this friend and I were going to do this. There’s a part of me that misses the lie of monogamy so badly it stings. I miss that false security, feeling like “we” will tackle the world. Feeling like the thing we made was this really solid thing instead of a series of promises we could break. We had a ceremony and a paper. We had financial things and a common last name. We were a family. We raised a foster daughter and had years of shared experience. We had pets and furniture and things we’d collected together. We had routines and history and a deep understanding of one another. We’d been through the worst things together and survived and grew. We had so many beautiful experiences and so many dreams. Somehow I was able to finally buy the lie and I miss it.
And the truth of all of it is that all of it is temporary and all of it ends. I have ALWAYS known this. I grew up never doubting this. My mom left, three times. My father sent me away once. My mother married five times and my father married four. I saw people make absolutely sincere promises many many many times and none of that lasted. It just didn’t. Most of my friend’s parents were divorced too. People remarried and divorced again. I don’t know anyone who still lives next to the elementary school best friend they promised they would one day live next door to. We grow and change and change some more. Things are ever shifting. It is simply a truth of the universe. We get the time we get with people and with places and all of that changes again. People don’t work one job or live in one house or stay married to one person forever anymore. And things changed even when they did.
I don’t mean to sound like everything is dark, because I don’t feel that. Things being temporary doesn’t make them less precious. It makes them more-so. A rainy evening learning to weld with Cleveland is a beautiful thing, maybe even more beautiful that it’s rare, the first time you welded, this thing you always wanted to do and you did it together. A tiny moment on a Sunday, fishing in World of Warcraft and watching football with Traveler, him leaning over and into you, curling up for a brief snuggle, his warmth and the smile you can’t help, these things are wonderful and I don’t regret them or diminish them by saying that they may end. Hell.. if I KNEW with utter certainty my heart would be broken by my loves I would still sign up for this to not miss the experience. Falling in love with Traveler and putting that out there and being vulnerable enough to let him in, even while I’m mourning, has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life and it just gets better. Learning all about Cleveland’s weird little world.. it’s magic falling in love. It’s worth all of the pain and fear. It’s beyond worth it.
So why the crying? Well.. knowing and accepting something doesn’t mean that I don’t feel the pain and sadness of it. I’m afraid. It doesn’t make me not love and I don’t want to shut off to avoid feeling pain or loss, but I do have to acknowledge that I am afraid. And maybe it’s okay to be afraid. I’m allowed to miss my old certainty. I’m allowed to miss feeling so sure. It was wonderful. I’m lucky I ever felt that at all. And for that matter, things being over does not erase what was. It doesn’t make the love we felt less real or the things we made less true. I’m not wallowing in this fear or allowing it to rule my life or keep me from building trust or love or from being vulnerable or real. I’m happy most of the time and I feel like I am living well. I had a moment with my friend that I got a little too close to that landmine of fear and I cried.
I’m glad I’m not still so afraid I can’t feel or admit that I feel. I need to remember how long and how hard I worked to be here, making a fool of myself with a woman I trusted enough to be real with. I’m doing what you always have to do with fear. I’m asking myself why I have this fear and what I need. I’m addressing it the best that I can and moving on. I’m trying to live with courage, and courage isn’t acting in the absence of fear, it’s acting in spite of it.