The Scary Idea of Love
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in love. Maybe I’ve never actually been in love. Maybe I loved the idea of it. I love friends well. But what does it mean to love a soul mate? And how do you meet a soul mate? Do they fall into your path by accident because they tripped over a dream of someone else and stumbled into your world? Maybe I’ve met mine already. Or maybe I don’t have a soul mate. Maybe my lyrics for life are “I’m my own soulmate”.
I sugar coated my first article about love. I covered my heartbreak in humorous stories and an air of nonchalance to hide the fact that I was bitter about love and had my heart broken by a man that lived in a different country. I used jokes to mask the pain and wine that got me through the night. The months that followed the time I spent with J were hard, even though my friends reminded me that they never liked him, that I was enamored with a man who used his accent and mediocre singing abilities to convince me that we were more than we were.
Along with joking that I didn’t want a relationship, I sought out men from other cities to go on dates with to avoid stability and commitment. I’m scared to admit to myself or anyone else that I really do want a relationship. I’m scared because maybe I’ll meet someone and they’ll want that with me but the thought of that is terrifying because I’m so used to the belief that nothing ever lasts. By avoiding it all together I can be in control.
I began to realise that with dating men and holding my heart in my other hand away from them, I was becoming just like these men that I was so used to dating. I had my stories, and my interesting background. And all the dates went the same and then I became fatigued by it. I got tired of putting my life on display for their entertainment. I was over-telling the same stories and describing my everything but normal childhood. So, I slowed down with dating and threw myself into work, killing myself with no free time and taking on as much overtime as they’d allow. Love was not on my radar or in my vocabulary—love was not something I wanted.
Thus I decided to take a step back from dating. But I had a date previously lined up that I decided to go on, setting very low expectations so as not to get my hopes up. It surprisingly went better than I thought it would. The conversation flowed easily and my upbringing hardly came up. We focused the topics on movies, music, books and tv shows. We had a couple of drinks and I asked if he wanted to go to another bar. He agreed and we walked over to one of his favorite spots that was right down the street, the place where ironically, I had my first date with J. I had tried to convince myself that I was over J, that I don’t compare any other man to him or the way he made me feel, but when we walked into Crying Wolf, it was like my heart was being pulled from my chest. I imagined him, where we sat, how we watched the band play and the patio where we stood and told me the names he wanted for his future kids. I remembered his smile and my smile and how naive I was that night. I was new to dating, oblivious to the hook-up culture and the way these men would be able to get close to me while holding their heart in their other hand, away from me.
I immediately shut down and I think my date could tell. Then I decided to say the best line I have ever said on a date, one I really don’t recommend ever saying on a first date or maybe any date for that matter. He was talking about cats, I don’t remember why or how we got onto that topic, but I am not a fan of cats and was annoyed with J and what had happened, which I then proceeded to project onto all men. I came up with the words, “Well, you know...men are like cats. You don’t know who they really are, you can’t trust them and they all suck.” My date sat there looking at me and let out a hesitant laugh as I sat there, straight faced—convinced that this really was an accurate description.
When the date ended, he walked me to my car and kissed me goodnight. I went home and woke up the next morning thinking, ‘How could I have been such an idiot!?’ I really liked him but I guessed I just liked to self sabotage. My grandma was convinced I would never hear from him again and my friends laughed at this new first date story. Believe it or not, this man texted me and asked me out again. Apparently my honesty was attractive as was how unexpected and unusual my analogy for men was.
I told all this to my therapist, complaining that while I may have met a great guy, I still wasn’t ready for a relationship. I knew I had issues to work out and fix first. She gently told me that she would not be able to fix my trust issues, those only start to get fixed when you start to trust someone, when you test out trust. It will always be a leap of faith and we can talk all day long in therapy about it but in the end, it has to come from me. I sat there in my discomfort, annoyed and frustrated with this answer.
I am still slowly figuring out what relationships look like for me. Love is a scary thing. So is the idea of blindly trusting someone. Maybe it turns into loving them and maybe they break your heart, but am I ready to say no to love altogether just because J decided that I was not the one for him and I lived too far away? No. I can’t let his actions keep affecting me and how I live my life.
Love is also weird and messy and hard. I know I am a work in progress and trust is a scary thing, but it feels good to be able to be honest with someone. It feels good to tell them how you really feel and why, to adjust to the idea of being present in whatever it is and enjoying those moments while they last, for however long or short they may be. Blending the lives of all the versions of me that I love and hate is hard, but I have to accept myself first before someone else ever will. And maybe J knew that, maybe he knew I wasn’t ready or maybe he was really just an ass. Either way, I’m moving on.