Loving someone that doesn’t love you back is exhausting. It’s like pouring sand into a bottomless bucket. And paying for a bouquet of roses, but only getting the stems. This is becoming a pattern for me.
I fell in love my sophomore year of college. It took me a long time to fall out of it. My relationships have always been a priority in my life, but I’ve never put romantic ones in first place. It’s not that I think they’re unimportant; I see love everywhere. But I am not defined by who’s lips have or have not touched mine. I am not who has or has not held my hand. I am not who I have loved or who I will love, or whether or not I choose to romantically share my life with another human being. I am busy pursuing other things and I believe that relationships come when they’re good and ready. So I was wholly unprepared the first time. It hit me hard and fast and I didn’t really have a say in the matter. And (surprise!) he didn’t feel the same way: he was actually already pursuing someone else. I was understandably heartbroken, laying in my bed every night praying that I would fall asleep long and hard and fast because it was easier than dealing with my feelings. I moved on. And then quite recently, I loved someone else.
I was not in love with him. I just loved him with all my heart. He was one of my best friends and I knew that I used to be one of his. Somewhere, along the way, he simply stopped caring. But people are people, and sometimes people change their minds. We’re human beings, and we can’t be expected to be everything for everyone all the time. It’s a matter of knowing ourselves well enough to know what we can put up with in another person. Who you can spend the your life with. Who can spend their life with you. I often wondered if I love people to deeply or if I’ve done something the wrong way. Eventually, I think I discovered that I expected everyone to possess the same heart that I do. I have learned the hard way that I’m on my own in the way of love. Maybe it’s because I’m different. Or maybe I’m just hard to love.
Being in love with someone breaks you in a way that loving someone does not. I believe, for myself, that being in love destroyed and completely shattered me. I lost myself. But when I love someone – when I really love someone, even when they hurt me or reject me – I am wounded but still whole. I still don’t regret that I fell in love, and I know that you don’t ever love the same way twice, but I really do think that loving is much different than being in love. This time, when I drove all the way to Amarillo at 9:30 at night, I realized that I would be perfectly content going on without him. I didn’t want to, but I had to, and I have developed an uncanny ability to do what’s best for myself, even when it hurts. I’ll never speak to him again.
You know who you are. This is for you:
You don’t get to put me on the back burner. You don’t get to keep me in the wings and treat me like I’m second class because you want to screw around. You don’t get to tell me you love me and call me your best friend and make comments about my body and stay up until 3 AM talking with me about what we both want from love and marriage and family. You don’t get to do those things and then leave me and act like you don’t care. You don’t get to treat me like I’m not important. I am important. I am more important than you will ever know. And I am powerful and a force to be reckoned with and you will not break me with your immaturity. I love you. But it’s not enough. Because love can never just be enough.
You can’t expect for someone to love you. I don’t expect anyone to love me at all. But I will hope for it. It isn’t enough to simply love someone from one direction. Perhaps that’s why I want it so badly: I was born to love people that will never love me back. I try to hold on to what it would be like to be with someone who really loves me. And kisses me on the forehead and pours me orange juice in the morning and holds me when I’m falling apart so that it’s easier for me to hold myself together. There are a lot of things I have given up on in my life. But I will hold out for that.
I often wonder why we can’t give up on love. Is it because love is the only thing that makes life worth it? Is it the rush? The falling? The way it makes us feel alive? It’s much more practical, I think, to go without, but we’d never be able to do it. So here we are. Making love, twisting our fingers through our hair, and enduring restless sleep.