I don’t actually know who you are.
I’ve met you, of course, in one form or another, but if we’re being honest, I don’t know you. I do not know what the complete shape of you looks or feels like. I don’t even know if you truly exist, or if you’re a fairytale we’ve made up.
But I’m writing anyway, because in the worse case scenario, I believe in fairytales.
Reading Love, Eventually, it was this quote about you that resonated the most.
“Out of hopefulness, impatience, insecurity or for a thousand other reasons, we too often rush into relationships that are poor fits for us, robbing our partners and ourselves of more promising connections.”
The truth is this: we are all damaged in some way. We bear hope only we can see; hope that goes against all odds, that distorts reality and colours every decision we make. We bear the fears only we see; fears we cannot explain, or stop feeling, despite our best efforts. We bear the scars only we see; scars others have inflicted, scars we do not understand, or do but perhaps have never dealt with for a myriad of reasons.
All this, our thousand other reasons, will shape our relationship with you.
Sometimes, we ignore your existence completely. Not on purpose, but simply because we’ve never really learnt how to shoulder our scars alone. For some of us, the cost of overlooking you is great. We run towards the next, and the next, and the next, from whoever we receive attention and affection, to whomever will help to ease the weight we carry. They fall, almost accidentally, into our laps; and then, almost gratefully, we fall onto theirs in return. When we finally realise you are nowhere in sight, we find ourselves deciding to stay anyway — out of love or a bond that has now formed, because of the children, or the guilt, fear, grief, et al., we feel.
Other times, we believe you are quintessential in a union. We feel for your presence by measuring our partner’s baggage against our own, taking issue with any variation, until finally, we finally walk away. We cite the hole where you should have stood. We are still waiting — still holding out, even now — for you to show up, in entirety, with someone we could fall in love with.
At times, we think it is a choice between love, or you. So we choose. Some make lifelong happiness with their choice; others find it is not enough.
Sometimes, we are blessed enough to be one of two people who falls in love at exactly the same time, only to find you standing there in the middle. And yet, a year later (or two, or ten), you’ve vanished, because our relationship with you is a shifting goal post, changing whenever we do.
There are so many forms our relationship with you takes, Compatibility, in the face of our thousand other reasons. But whichever we choose, there is no promise of a happy outcome. For as there are a number of us who have experienced tragedies in your absence, there are many others who have made their own happiness. And then there are those who’ve had both, and yet.
For this reason, I cannot agree in absolute terms that we end up “robbing our partners and ourselves of more promising connections”, wherever you are absent.
More experiences with — and without — your presence only helps us to see you a little clearer; to understand the balance we are willing to live with in any relationship. And we do this with an acceptance that there are no formulas and no guarantees.
As for me, I have been guilty of abandoning you. You see, I let myself crumble under the weight of my bags. I was not determined enough to work through my emotional discomfort; I was not patient enough wait for the light that would eventually come. I did not face what I had to, when I had to, and by the time I realised, you had come and gone. Because I was not my priority, you weren’t either.
But I look forward with hope, that this was meant to be all along.
“Still, had the possibility of this loving bi-disability marriage presented itself to us years earlier, I don’t think either of us would have been ready. We needed the right combination of fallacies, wrong turns and formative relationships to lead each of us exactly here.”
My relationship with you is far from over. I will make other mistakes where you are concerned, I’m sure.
But only time will tell what the next one is, and whether this time, finally, there will be a happy ending.