It’s been months since I last sat next to you, staring into my hands and realizing there were no answers there.
No magic in my fingers, no words that could change your mind—or my heart.
I wanted to love you in a way that translated into forever. Instead, I loved you in a way that didn’t always make sense to me.
I loved you all wrong.
There were days I didn’t understand you. Days I couldn’t figure out how to handle everything you had been through. Days I couldn’t figure out how to let you see me.
Was I saying the right things, asking the right questions? Was I being sensitive enough or too sensitive?
I loved you with caution at first. Why now? Why me? I kept saying to myself and others, “This is crazy!” And it was.
It was crazy the way magic is crazy, the way crop circles and spontaneous human combustion are crazy. Because there was no explanation for what we had.
I loved you with apprehension because it was almost too easy to fall into you. It felt real but I worried the universe was trying to fool me, to prove that connections could only be strong if they were difficult to manage. That it could only be love if it resembled struggle, if there was constant push and pull.
I loved you with anger because you showed up at the worst possible time. How were we supposed to make a relationship work with an entire country between us? But, as is often the case, your heart came at the exact moment I needed it most.
I loved you with jealousy because you were unapologetically yourself—even if you didn’t always know who that was. You longed for connection but didn’t realize you created it wherever you went.
I loved you with sadness. You were always searching, looking for answers. I wanted to show you that everything you hoped to find was already inside you—but I couldn’t even do that for myself.
I loved you with entitlement. After so much time alone, I felt I had earned you and our future—that I had done my work. You showed me there is always more work to do.
I loved you with discomfort because I could feel my world shifting. I could see the cracks forming in all my walls. At times I felt desperate to patch them up, to fill them in with fear and excuses, but I was anxious to see what was waiting on the other side. I thought it would be us—turns out it was me.
I loved you with fear because you called me perfect. It sounded beautiful, like a prayer answered but I was scared you were trying to hide in me, trying to make me everything you thought you needed. Knowing you saw me as perfect was intoxicating in the most dangerous way, because I knew that one day I’d be so flawed and real that the bubble would burst. And it did.
I loved you, but I didn’t give you the freedom to change your mind without judgement.
I wanted to love you in a way that stopped time. I wanted to love you in a way that kept you remembering how it felt that first moment we saw each other across a quiet bar on a warm Tuesday evening in September.
I wasn’t always good at loving you. Sometimes I was needy and selfish. I wanted things from you that you weren’t ready to give: answers and explanations you didn’t have, support and understanding you weren’t capable of providing. And sometimes I was hesitant and pulled back. I couldn’t trust you, or myself, to accept what you were offering.
I wish I had allowed you to be in a place of change without making it all about me, without wondering what I had done to make you go. I wish I hadn’t demanded that you leave your emotional space and meet me in mine. And not because I didn’t feel justified in my feelings—heartbreak left me plenty justified—but because I allowed my feelings to eclipse yours.
I wasn’t always patient and kind. I was jealous and unsure, envious and scared.
This is how I loved you then—with feelings I couldn’t explain and choices I regret.
But I stayed. I chose to stay and keep loving you.
It’s been months since I last sat next to you. Months it took to realize that I can love you with distance and with clarity, but no answers—the same way I love a memory.
I can love you as my teacher, with the knowledge that whenever I examine us and what we went through, I find another lesson. I place another piece into the puzzle and know that I have you to thank.
I can love you with forgiveness, with the knowledge that we set our bar so high, it was almost impossible to achieve. We dreamed big together and in the end, loving you all wrong taught me to dream big for myself.
And now I know I can love you with a consciousness in me that didn’t exist before we became “us.”
Because through you I realized that love doesn’t always mean forever, but neither does letting go.
I Can Love You without Caging You.
This is a new kind of relationship that’s truly sustainable, passionate and fun:
Author: Nicole Cameron
Editor: Sarah Kolkka
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