“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.”—The little prince
When I was young, I used to think that you only really fell in love with one person in your life. My 5-year-old, Cinderella-based worldview didn’t consider the expanse of what love means in reality, but there was an element of truth to it. Because we have all been left reeling from love that left us, swearing we’ll be eternally in love and in pain. And maybe sometimes, we are, and maybe often times, we’re supposed to be. Because little do most of us realize, it is the struggle of learning to let go that often does more for us than having that love ever did. And this is the part of it we desperately overlook.
What we have to learn is that there’s more to letting go of love just the act of doing so. Sometimes it’s supposed to linger. Sometimes it’s supposed to guide us or teach us or shape us or create in us a reason to love ourselves when the emptiness of someone’s absence becomes too much.
Loving someone who doesn’t love you or won’t love you doesn’t make you a delusional, malfunctioning human being. It means you’re someone who chose to love, who committed some part of themselves to someone else, and you god damn meant it. You were honest. You were raw and vulnerable. The intensity with which lost love lingers only serves to show us how real it was in the first place. It’s a good thing, though it hurts.
Committing to someone and committing to loving them are two very different things. There will be some relationships that are beautiful but fruitless. There will be some people who remain with you long after they’re gone. There will be people who hurt you in intimate ways and you’ll want to close yourself again. There are things that we’ll take into us and they will stay there. We will build ourselves around them. We can’t always eradicate things when they become inconvenient. Most often they’ll pass by themselves, and in retrospect, we’ll realize that their timing was most important.
Holding on, though painful, proves to us that we are capable. We’re capable of saying “I love you” and meaning it. That we can commit to love and not be flimsy about that commitment because here we are, still loving them, unconditionally, as all the other conditions have been lost.
It’s time we stop sweeping this truth about ourselves into the category of why we’re embarrassingly pathetic. The strength to admit to where you’re lost and hurting and mistaken and wrong is unmatched. It makes searingly brave people out of the ones who were most afraid of themselves to begin with.
It’s time we stop thinking of love as something that must go when someone else does. Because it’s in doing so that we realize the belt of it that’s within us, that we identify where it’s rooted and from what it grows, and we use that to grow the rest of us. These are the stories from which the real fairy tales happen. The times we uncover the love we have, and let it hang there by itself, and learn to step into it ourselves, and not wait for anybody else to bring it out of us.
“People say I love you all the time - when they say, ‘take an umbrella, it’s raining,’ or ‘hurry back,’ or even ‘watch out, you’ll break your neck.’ There are hundreds of ways of wording it - you just have to listen for it, my dear.”—John Patrick