Reading can make your mind wander. Writing can lock your thoughts onto one page. Once it’s out, it’s out.
I’ve spent my life loving harder. Everyone I have ever loved, I have really loved, and I’ve always loved my other half harder than they have loved me. I’ve spent years craving the attention of a loved one— lingering by a bicycle outside the dining hall, writing songs that never get listened to,hugging with two arms and only getting one arm back.
When I was 15 I found someone who loved me passionately. But he was older than me, more experienced, and so he left the country until I turned 18. At this point, I was going into college and ready to meet new people for the first time, people outside of my little hometown bubble. But he got to me first. He tied me down. He blind-folded me. He didn’t let me get back up.
He loved alcohol more than he loved me, and even though this seems like something that would be obvious, at the time it just wasn’t. I’d never had alcohol before this time of my life, and so I thought because he was older and more experienced, this was just normal. I didn’t know anything.
It was when he told me I had to have a baby. His baby. I was 20— I could not even legally drink alcohol, the thing he loved so much more than me. After two and a half years of being broken down to the point of near nothingness, I finally found the courage to leave. It was hard, but the previous two and half years had been bad. Dangerous.
I was opening my heart to anyone who would show me love. I was completely in awe of a woman who had become my best friend. She represented possibility. She held my hand in public. She sniffled in my ear. She was beautiful and intelligent. She moved to France for a year.
Something happened to her that had been happening to me for too long. The two of us combined was too much sadness. I loved her, but it was too much.
At this time, there was a boy who was just the opposite of the older man. He was handsome, strong, and absolutely goofy. He represented everything the older man was not.Freedom. He was my age. We went on adventures. We met up by accident. He never needed me to call. But he never called me either. On my birthday he left to go skiing.
I tried being alone.
After loving harder for so long, I finally found someone who would love me harder.
My most dear and faithful friend. He represented safety, security, and warmth. He didn’t smile much, but he did whenever he was looking at me. He told me I was beautiful. He told me I was smart. He told me he would keep me safe. I believed him. He has never let me down.
It has been three and a half years. I live with my most dear and faithful friend. Six months ago, I thought this was our first step before marriage. I thought that we would live together, get married, move somewhere else, and have children. I imagined our wedding often. I imagined our future home.
I thought that when we moved in together, the troubles would be things like the bed not being made, the dishwasher not being loaded the way I like it, dirty shoes on the carpet. I thought we would struggle financially. I was afraid we would be the couple who stayed in too much.
The bed does not get made unless I make it, but that does not bother me. The dishwasher is never loaded the way I like it, but that does not bother me. Dirty shoes are always worn across the carpet, but that does not bother me (enough).
It’s the looking at his phone before bed, instead of looking at me. It’s the looking at his phone first thing in the morning, instead of rolling over and talking to me. It’s the sitting on the couch, instead of going for a walk. It’s the going out to eat, and talking about nothing.
I went to Africa for two weeks, and in two weeks I felt more than I have been feeling in the past 6 months, or maybe even in the past few years.
I did not miss him.
I feel like shit for not missing him, but I didn’t.
I thought a lot about what I want from my short life. I thought about how simple my life is at home— It is simple and it is safe. And for so long I thought that I wanted this. For so long I feared the possibility of someone hurting me as badly as the older man hurt me in the past. I was afraid of feeling so passionately about someone that I could not live without them. I have been happy with the fact that I feel like, for the first time in my life, I could live without my other half. I have been happy with the independence I feel within my own relationship.
But I held an 8 month old baby who needed a loving mother and I thought about how someday, that could be me. I spent two weeks in a city that needed me and I thought about how someday, I could go back. I stayed up late under the stars with a friend, talking about feminism, trauma, struggle, religion, and the meaning of love in our lives, and I thought about how much I’ve been missing that.
I’ve been missing conversation.
I want to read books and then talk about them. I want to watch movies and argue about their meaning. I want to stay in on a Friday, but I want to go somewhere new on Saturday. I want to talk about politics and current events and when I ask questions I want to receive answers. I want to travel, and I want a companion. I want a newness that will never age.
It’s not his fault that this is not who he is. In fact, I knew all of this when I started loving him, and when I decided to keep loving him. But what I didn’t know yet was that I wanted these things.
He is faithful. He is protective. He loves me more than he loves anything else. He would try to do any of these things for me. But he would never do it for himself.
It’s because he loves me harder.
I’ve been thinking about this for days on end now. Maybe nobody has to love harder. Maybe there is someone for each of us that we can love really hard, but they can love us just as hard. Maybe we love them harder when they need it from us, but they love us harder when we need it from them. Maybe we can just love hard.
What it’s really come down to is that I’ve never been able to pretend. I’ve never been able to lie to him. But lately when I kiss him, it feels like I’m lying.
* * * * *
So what do I do?
My gut is telling me what I need to do. We aren’t meant to be together forever. We were meant for each other just now, for the past 3 years. He helped me grow. He helped me heal.He helped me become the woman I am today.
But there’s so much more that I want to become, and none of it seems to fit in this simple, little picture. With him I see another apartment, a pet, a wedding, a baby, a beautiful and simple life.
And yet, if he asked me to marry him tonight, I would say no.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
— Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
For the first time in my life I can understand that I deserve everything that I want to give, and he deserves someone who loves him as hard as he loves me.