Warning: If you’re going to be bored by my talking about heartbreak and moving on, please don’t read ahead.
Today I tried to imagine meeting you after a few years. I would be awesome, obviously – successful, happy, and with someone else (duh). I’m patting myself on the back because even in my petty revenge day dream, you weren’t sad or heartbroken.
In my head, I never wanted you to be sad. I privileged your happiness in exclusion of my own – when you said something I found hurtful, I bit my tongue rather than lash out at you. When you never showed up, I made excuses for you to myself, to my parents, to my friends. When it was easy to leave, I chose (for once!) to be the girl who stayed.
So you left.
I don’t blame you. Of course you had to privilege your mental health over mine. I blame you (a little) because I never could. But I can’t forgive you. I can’t forgive you for the sake of that hopeful girl inside me who thought that this might work out. I can’t forgive you because you don’t feel the need to say hi to me and check on whether I’m okay but I do. I can’t forgive you for being the first to leave. I can’t forgive you for the panic attacks, for the feeling of hopelessness, like you were my last shot at happiness.
I know, of course, that this isn’t true. I’m 21. My future stretches forward like a sunny path, my imagination has no trouble making up a mystery person who will fill my life with love and happiness. Even without him, I have more than enough friends and family and work to not have the time or inclination to sit and cry about you. Enough has happened in the past month to wipe the taste of you from my mouth.
Still, on days like this I do wonder why I wasn’t enough. What did I do wrong? What is so unlovable about me? Should I have pushed less, should I have shaved my legs, lost some weight, been less cheesy?
On days like this I have to ask myself how I’d feel if my mother or my future daughter knew that I was thinking this. Would I want my future children to think this way? Of course I’d want them to learn from failed relationships (not just romantic) to be better, kinder, bigger people. But I also want to them to learn who they are. To know what core of themselves they will value more than love – even mine. And I’d want them to fight for that core – even against me. Fighting for personhood is a constant battle of attrition in this crazy world, and I can’t bear the thought of them losing it.
And therefore I can’t afford to lose it. Not even for you, my love. Especially not to love, which is supposed to make you more of a person, not less.
And yet, I feel the tinge of loneliness. The fear of never finding someone special, someone to be mine. (I don’t claim possession, just preemption.)
Be worthy love, and love will come.
I love this line from Good Wives. But for the longest time I thought being worthy meant to be more like someone else – more pretty, more thin, more intelligent, more vivacious, more helpful, more resourceful. Without any blame, I recognize that these are things I learnt from my parents. I’ve grown out of this. These days, I believe worthiness has to come from within – by being more secure, by being more happy, by having a life and hobbies of your own, by being you.
This, too: that my partner will have to prove his or her willingness, ability and suitableness to love me as much as I will have to prove my willingness, ability and suitableness to be loved.
So dear A, perhaps I was not the right person to love you. Perhaps you were not the right person to love me. Perhaps we were the right people at the wrong time or the right people for a short fated duration of time. It doesn’t matter. I forgive you because I must forgive you in order to forgive myself. I have to forgive myself because I have a long life to live that cannot constantly be tinged by what ifs and maybe I should’ve. I have to forgive you because I have to be myself.
I hope we do meet in a few years, A. I hope we’re both happy and successful and with other people who adore us and are right for us. I hope the music is loud and the food is good. I hope we don’t linger.