Don’t you try and tell me that you never loved me
I know that you did
‘Cause you said it and you wrote it down
-from Kate Nash’s Merry Happy
I’m learning and re-learning. Learning and re-learning so many lessons I thought I already knew.
As much as we pretend it does–until the fists stop clenching, and the cramping stomach and the dull ache in our chests subside–betrayal doesn’t make love less real, less tangible. It doesn’t mean someone didn’t love you. That they don’t love you still. It doesn’t mean they always lie. It might mean that. But most of the time it simply means they are human. Frustratingly, cruelly, overwhelmingly human.
We all are. We are all imperfect. We strive to be the best versions of ourselves and then suddenly we’re straddling gray areas both old and new and we don’t know what to do, don’t know what to say. We falter. We fall. We are perfect in our imperfection.
I will always let someone down. I won’t anticipate a need. I’ll miss something. I’ll be a jerk. So will you. You won’t even know you’re doing it, or maybe, you will. I might not do it consciously, but it will still happen; I’ll still hurt someone. So will you.
It’s a great exercise in being an adult to begin to recognize, to really understand and believe, that when someone you love, someone you trusted, is lost, it doesn’t erase the happiness you once felt, the sheer joy you held so tightly you might have smothered it, but you just couldn’t let go. It was impossible. Just like it’s impossible to separate the past from the present sometimes. You lose yourself. You lose those you love. You lose actual love. For yourself and for someone you thought you could love for an infinite amount of time.
Life is about losing. True.
By certain standards I’ve certainly lost enough. An aunt I looked up to and who I physically resemble when I was 11. My father when I was 13. Best friends to moving trucks and far-away cities. The sound of my maternal grandfather’s voice, of both arms wrapped around me, when I was 17. A first love. My paternal grandfather, to a rare form of stomach cancer when I was 22. A child just weeks alive inside of me, and someone I thought loved enough to maybe consider being a wife when I was 23. A friend I had laughed and cried (and laughed until I cried) with since I was in the seventh grade when I was 24. A marriage at 27.
I will lose more. I know it. It’s inevitable.
I also know I’ve gained so much. An undeniable faith in hope, in optimism. A family who loves and supports me when I make great decisions, and when I make ridiculous ones. An ability to stop counting by twos, to stop seeing pairs everywhere I look and just live. Confidence. Freedom. Peace. Strength. Friendships I cherish more and more each day. The ability to laugh on a daily basis, because I really am happy. The tangible realization that there is love bigger than any of us, bigger than anyone who might love you one day, and betray you the next. The promise of a life lead with purpose.
I will gain more. I know it. It’s inevitable.
Life can never be one-sided. It’s never a glass half empty without simultaneously being a glass half full. Maybe not to you, but somewhere. As much as life is about loss, about suffering, about loneliness, life is also about gain, about healing, about community.
Life is about hope. Life is about love.
In my experience, never will you be better able to list the many things for which you are thankful than when you’re standing face-to-face with your ability to be wrecked.
It’s a long story I’m not really going to talk about here just yet, but recently I’ve felt (happy and excited, yes, and) vulnerable and anxious and angsty for the first time in years. So many years. And I’m so scared I don’t even know what to do. I don’t know what to say. So I’m breathing deeply, and remembering who I am, and who I want to be, and talking honestly, about what I need and what I don’t.
And I’m listening. I’m doing so much listening, and it feels incredible. It also feels hard. The way bones and joints ache when they’re growing: that’s how my heart feels right now. I’m so thankful my life is filled with people who can and will and want to speak truth into my life, who love me enough to say words I need to hear even when those words might sting at first.
Life is about hope. It’s about love. So I won’t stop hoping. I won’t stop loving with everything I am. No matter how much I’ve lost and might lose. Not ever. Not because I’m not ever going to hurt someone or be hurt again. I’m sure I will hurt someone; I’m sure I will be hurt. I am hurting as I type this.
I won’t stop loving with everything I am because life is just too short to love any other way.
(Post title also from Kate Nash’s Merry Happy.)