An old, trusted friend asked about details of how my last relationship ended. We talked about it, and it was clear that I was still having difficulty with it, and the loss; I was still hurting. And I admitted that I still really missed him. She asked me why I didn’t just tell him that. I laughed. Now, why on earth would I do that? It’s over. I was working on letting go. These are the rules of life–this is how life works. And now, she’s gone and stuck this thought in my head. She said he may feel the same way, why not just tell him and see what happens? I said absolutely not. She called me stubborn.
I seriously wondered who she is. This wasn’t a juvenile high school conversation about boys and crushes and “Oh just call him.” She’s known me through most of my relationships. She’s known me through all the iterations of Me. She’s known me through my heartbreaks and losses and trust issues. So why on earth would she suggest this to me, of all people? Oh, because she is a hopeful, courageous person. She understands there are disappointments in life, and she is resilient and can weather painful circumstances while still holding on to hope. I’d like to be like that. Our outlooks on life are so different, and I want to be hopeful and resilient like her. I want her confidence and conviction that we can survive hurts. But see, I can. I can do hard things, I can practice being brave and hopeful. If I choose to.
So I went back and told her I didn’t want to tell him I missed him because I didn’t want to look stupid or desperate. And I wasn’t being stubborn, I just didn’t want to get hurt again because chances are good he will reject me again. She asked me simply, what did I have to lose? I said my ego, my pride, my dignity, my heart.
And I realized that by protecting those things–I was armoring up. I wasn’t being authentic and vulnerable. Those are values I hold dear, and I need to get back to honoring those. Instead, I was posturing; pretending that I was fine and had moved on. So I inched closer to entertaining the idea of telling this person who meant so much to me how I felt. But what on earth do I say to him? (Because some days I am still 12 years old)
She said, “Just tell him how you feel. You miss him. You care about him a lot. You want to try to work things out.” Huh. I told her I vomited a little in my mouth at the thought of such honesty and vulnerability, and that it’s a bit more Brave than I could muster up at 2:30pm on a Tuesday. But I’d sit in it.
She told me to marinate in it. So I’m marinating in it. In the fact that this has thrown me for a loop–that I lost sight of being vulnerable and brave, and of using my words. Initially I was reluctant to reach out to him to tell him how I felt because I was afraid of the rejection, and really didn’t want to feel that pain again. I am still fairly certain he will reject me. But I am fairly certain I will reach out to him–not primarily for an end goal. But for the practice of being hopeful, resilient, vulnerable, and using my words. The practice of doing hard things, and being scared and brave simultaneously. Because he’s important to me. Because I need to feel through feelings instead of pushing them away. Because I need to put my armor down and be me. I need to accept there is no right or wrong to this–I used to have a rule of never groveling, and never going back to an ex. But I need to practice accepting that life is messy and there are no rules.
I want to be hopeful and resilient. I may still be broken-hearted, but I understand now that my friend is right, I don’t have anything to lose. This is an opportunity for growth for me. She literally shakes her head at me, like this isn’t such a big deal. Because she goes through life living her life, authentically and vulnerably and bravely. It’s a big deal for me because I’m still working on living my life in this way, unarmored. You can only let the marinade seep in without the barrier of armor.
Postscript: How does this end, you ask? It doesn’t matter. I decided reaching out and showing my vulnerability–that was for me, and not for an outcome or to ease the sadness. And indeed, it was actually so freeing to stop the Stoic Posturing of pretending that I was fine and over hurts. Something about owning and admitting my vulnerabilities and struggles allowed me to remember the beauty in love and joy even when things don’t work out. I hadn’t even realized I was fighting the sadness and grief. Honoring the negative feelings actually allowed me to let them go. Oh the irony of how I blog about doing all that, and I forget that I need to practicepracticepractice the hard and beautiful work of life too. This process has also reminded me of the journey I decided to embark on a couple years ago–of learning not to be afraid of being the one who loves the most. I do not want to be afraid of love.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh