You are everything that I had been looking for––almost.
Time spent with you was the perfect storm of exhilaration and ease. The mundane moments felt like treasures to be hunted for and kept for safe keeping. I reminisce on the simple act of being picked up by you. You would turn and watch me walk to your car, and as soon as the door opened, your face would light up, and this pristine sense of joy would wash over both of us, completely enamored by simply being in each other’s company.
There were moments when I wanted to turn back, when I knew the situation wasn’t conducive to what I wanted, but there was a force greater pulling me in.
And I’m eternally grateful that it did. So while neither of us can say what may come, what you have already given me is more than I could ask for.
I sat with this title at the top of my open computer for over a week. Every attempt to start seemed misleading, wrong, or inadequate. One of my biggest pet peeves in writing, or hell even in talking, is that in your head it all makes sense and it’s eloquent, beautiful, streamlined. And then fingers touch keys or mouth opens, and words just fall out, blunt, awkward, seemingly apathetic to the thought that birthed them. While I am still unclear where to start, I know where to finish, and I at least know what I am trying to say. I also know it’s important that I do. Because to have it sit idle on my desktop, only reminding me of the treasures I have stumbled upon would be a waste. It would be selfish to not give this letter freedom, to not share with others what I have received and experienced.
And yet, I don’t know how to write something so vulnerable knowing I intend to set it free. I often hide behind characters or short stories when my heart strings are aggressively pulled. But, I also know you don’t stop just because you are scared or don’t know how. It’s in pushing forward––even when the pull gets dramatically harder––that allows us to reach the other side, and look back to see the gift all of it was, the sadness, the darkness, and yes the heart ache. So here goes nothing. Or here goes all of it. I release this experience into the abyss in hopes of inspiring another, or perhaps enticing someone to join me in this perspective. I may not have gotten here had I not picked up a book when I did, and I am eternally grateful as it left me with an epiphany that softened what felt like a broken heart, and made me realize it wasn’t torn, it was simply open.
So yes, this is for you. You brilliant, sexy, strong man who I fell head over heels for. And the gift you gave me, I offer to the world so others will see the power in their relationships. I open myself up to you, to those who read, and to the possibility of what setting this in ink might create. And a special thanks to Marianne Williamson, whose words gave me the strength to see all of this as the gift it truly was.
So here it is, because there is no such thing as a wasted love story.
When I met you, I was pleasantly surprised. I walked towards the fountain nervous of how you might be, what you might look like, and gearing up for what could be a terrible first date. And as you turned, smiled at me and said my name, my heart lurched. It wasn’t love at first sight, nor did I suddenly think you were the one. No, I simply, for the first time in years, laid eyes on someone who I immediately felt connected to, whose energy immediately flirted with mine. We spent the first date enthralled in conversation and laughter. Those butterflies of possibility, the ones that arise and dance inside you because you are on to something, were released, and their wing span became stronger and more fierce with each interaction.
There were sparks and chemistry, but there was also a deep sense of authenticity, and mutual respect that had us communicate openly, and say the things that aren’t easy. We trusted each other to speak our truths, and from the beginning acknowledged that we could handle each others vulnerability.
As time progressed I became more and more aware that there was stuff in your way to actually be with me in the way I wanted. Friends find fault in this, and in your actions. They tell me you are an idiot, too scared, and will one day regret this. When I was younger, these conversations probably would have made me feel better. I’d feel *charged* at the energy of blaming someone else’s “flaws” or “blindness” for having it go this way. Now, these conversations drive me over the edge. They feel small, and childish. I’ve learned over the last few years, that when we relate to people’s actions as wrong, it gives us little space to get in touch with the gift embedded.
And you, you beautiful man who wasn’t ready to be with me, gave me one of the most unique and magnificent gifts I have ever been given: the space to show up as my best self, where I truly stepped into my greatness. Any of us who have taken the time to look inward, or looked back upon a past relationship, know the stuff we have to work on. We know what sets us off, and how we are likely to respond in various situations. And even though we are privy to how it goes, we aren’t reliable in the moment to make a different decision, to show up as the person we are committed to being versus the person who just had their feelings hurt. And that’s why this is one of the most spectacular experiences I ever had, because in the face of fear, judgement, rejection, anger, and heartache I chose love, honesty, courage, and trust. Again and again.
You took me on miraculous dates, wanted to fall asleep next to me, openly shared your feelings, and were willing to meet me where I was. We didn’t play games, or shuffle around dishonesty. We were up front, sharing what we needed, and through communication built the relationship that worked for both of us. We learned early on we weren’t interested in going about this like we had in the past, or based on what society expected of us. Instead, we would very easily share what we wanted, and agreed that if it wasn’t here both of us were responsible enough to walk away.
And then, what in the past may have had me end it, occurred. After an amazing evening together where we gushed about our feelings for each other and how excited we were to have met, you slept with your ex. And within hours were at my doorstep, sharing what had happened, and apologizing for doing anything that may have hurt me. Mind you, we had made no agreements yet regarding seeing or sleeping with others. The transgression made was simply felt with regards to our feelings for each other; no rules were broken or promises unkept. The conversations that stemmed from that situation were powerful. As we sat on my living room floor, we shared our fears, concerns, and feelings for each other. It was a tender hour that had us both authentically bring what we needed and share who we were without judgment.
And it was this circumstance that changed my relationship with trust, because in this moment I realized it is a choice. I can’t tell you that my stomach didn’t drop and or that I didn’t want to hit or punch you––because I did. The thing that was stronger, however, was my commitment to what I ultimately want and who I am determined to be: Love. I gave myself the space to sit with the truth of what had happened, and then rather than be swept up by my feelings, I tapped into my heart. She reminded me that people make mistakes, and we get to choose how their mistakes impact us. Marianne Williamson writes, “forgiveness is the key to inner peace because it is the mental technique of which our thoughts are transformed from fear to love.” In that moment I knew that I didn’t want to walk away from someone who I was falling for, nor did I want to punish myself or another for something they had done. Yes I had fears about what this meant, or what it might mean about our future, but I wasn’t willing to let my fears dictate how this was going to go. To reject another human simply because they are human is ridiculous. I was more committed to seeing you as the man you are, than the thing you had done.
In relating to trust as a choice, I saw that it’s not something that can be taken away unless we let it. And if we treat it as something people can take away from us, because of a mistake, how strong can it really be? In choosing to trust you, I allowed myself to relate to you as your greatness, and what it opened up for me was a breakthrough. In standing for my power and my commitments I was given the opportunity to share that with you. Yes I was angry, but in this moment I had a choice. I could react and continue to condition both of us about what society has decided must happen if someone in a relationship makes a mistake, or I could welcome both of us into an entirely new conversation. One in which a relationship is determined by who both people are and what they are committed to, and not by their past or things they have done. As Williamson puts it, “the decision to let go of our grievances against other people is the decision to see ourselves as we truly are, because any darkness we let blind us to another’s perfection also blinds us to our own.” Rather than reacting from pain, fear, or darkness, I saw the opportunity to relish who you are, who you are to me, and who I got to be in this situation. If I allowed it to tarnish how I saw you, then I was likely to react and respond in a way that wouldn’t be conducive to who I want to be, and what I am capable of, and thus blind me to my own powers.
When I shared this with friends, many were astounded and even nervous. “How will you ever trust him?” “Doesn’t it mean this is over?” “I can’t believe you would stand for that.” This last one really got me. They couldn’t believe I would stand for love over fear? To relate to someone as who they are at their core instead of what they had done once? It was in these conversations that I started to realize I was on to something here, that this relationship was inviting me to show up inside of my commitments, and that I wasn’t going to let fear, rejection, or hurt run the show.
Now, was I hurt? Yes. Angry? A little. But the opportunity to choose and be responsible for how it went from here on out, was far more significant. Williamson writes that miracles occur by shifting our own thinking, and one of those miracles is “our willingness to keep our own heart open, regardless of what’s going on outside us.” Based on the past and how I typically show up in relationships, this would have been the perfect reason to deem you “not it” or to close my heart “knowing” I had found evidence for why I can’t let people in. But by the grace of the universe and my own power, I refused to close it. And even though we weren’t in love, this is what love is all about: our willingness to continue to see someone and love them regardless of the circumstances. Love is expansive and infinite, incidents and actions do not put a cap on it, but allow it to expand beyond where it already was. In choosing love over fear, and creating this situation for me to be in, you taught me this. And in the grand scheme of my life was this incident big? No. But the lesson from it is life changing. I have often wondered what had my mom stay with my father through the trials of alcoholism and all that comes with it, and in learning this from our interaction, I saw my parents love in an entirely new light. I saw that my mother was more powerful than I ever imagined, because in the face of all the lies and drinking, she chooses love, more and more. And that is strength and compassion like nothing else I have seen. “We love purely when we release other people to be who they are.”
You supported me in bearing witness to the possibility in relationships––that if we choose to, we get to experience another person for who they are, and not what they have done; we get to stand for love and compassion instead of fear or judgement; we get to pause and respond from our highest and best instead of our weaknesses and automatics; we get to continually expand what we can be with, and in turn grow just how much we love someone. In my time spent with you, I experienced a new level of strength and dedication in my life that I didn’t have tangible evidence for. In all the conversations we had, and all the places where we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable, I got to see myself show up in a way that I never have before. You gave me the gift of a powerful and grand reflection of myself.
I am not sharing this as simply a celebration of you or I, but because of the possibility here for everyone. Relationships: these are the places that yes we get hurt, fight, and feel great pain, but it also gets to be the playground for us to show up as our highest and best, and invite others to do the same. It is a gift to choose to be with someone in the face of our fears, judgements, egos, and past, and then work ourselves out to show up powerfully even with all that going on. What I learned in this with you is that relationships get to be where we commit to that which we find holy and respect most. If we are willing, it is a place to call upon each other and practice love, compassion, understanding, even when its unreasonable, even when people make mistakes. “Part of working on ourselves in order to be ready for a profound relationship, is learning how to support another person in being the best that they can be. Partners are meant to have a priestly role in each others lives. They are meant to help each other access the highest parts within themselves.” This is what you were for me. And although it wasn’t serious and only lasted 3 months, what we created had me access my highest and best self, and for you to support me in showing up this way, its priceless.
This, to me, is why relationships are so powerful and worthy of treasuring, because in accessing our own greatness we help another do the same. And imagine what the world would be like, and what we would all create if we were responsible enough in our relationships to constantly strive for this? What would our experience of this planet be like? What would it make possible? “Relationships are meaningful because they are opportunities to expand our hearts and become more deeply loving.” They aren’t merely here impacting those involved, they have the power to change entire conversations, cultures, social norms. We can’t tread lightly here, relationships aren’t just for partnership and security, they are the place we get to practice showing up inside our purpose, our commitments, who we want to be on the planet. If we allow them to be, they are the places we get to stand in the reflection of our greatness.
Which brings me back to you. You who I hold in respect, and light. Thank you, again and again, for holding up the mirror, and reflecting back all that I am capable of. Because of you I know that in moments of good, bad, and ugly, I don’t cower or lose sight of who I am. In the face of fire, I show the fuck up. I was given multiple opportunities to be crazy, to be shallow, to judge and rage, and I chose love. I held you in esteem and compassion, even when you might not have been so lenient on yourself. And just know this is still how I envision you––as your greatness, from your massive heart, and your deep love of connection and adventure. Williamson says, “it is an act of gracious generosity to accept a person based on what we know to be the truth about them, regardless of whether or not they are in touch with that truth themselves.” So hear me when I say I see you, I honor you, and I miss you. I hate that everything we planned to do together got taken away because we weren’t ready to be together. I miss being in relationship with the man who gave me one of the most prized gifts I will ever receive.
“It takes great courage and personal strength to hold on to our center during times of great hurt.” Thanks for showing me my center is strong, it is sturdy, and it will continue to chose love no matter what comes it’s way.
I am forever grateful to you–– the guy who showed me just how powerful my heart is, when I choose to keep it open.