I once had a love that came to me like an unexpected package that I thought was delivered to the wrong address — and yet, my name was right there as the recipient. So, I opened it up, and I thought at the time that it fit just right, even if I hadn’t anticipated it or even imagined it was out there for me. I wore it comfortably, proud and blessed, ecstatic that it was delivered to me when I least expected it.
I was so happy to have it that I didn’t notice how it dragged a bit around my feet or hung a little loosely at my wrists. I wanted it to be mine, so I rolled it up at the bottom and pinned back the sleeves. I tried to ignore that the fit wasn’t quite as comfortable as I’d imagined, because I wanted it more than anything I’d ever wanted before. Yes, even more than the one I had before that fit far too snugly and was gone so much sooner than I’d liked. I wanted it so badly that I let it hang there, tripping me up.
And then, one day, I fell — and I couldn’t stop seeing that the love that should have fit just right was simply wrong. As much as I wanted to keep it, it became obvious that I couldn’t.
So, of course, as we so often do, I held on tightly to it. I curled my whole body around it, weeping, trying to protect the thing I didn’t want to lose. I tried to pull it toward me, even as it began to slip away. I began to unwind it, pulling at a loose string and holding on to whatever little bit I could, even though I was unraveling the very fabric of that love.
Still, I could not keep it.
I could not make the wrong relationship work. Feeling love doesn’t mean the relationship will last or that it’s even meant to. It’s not a guarantee of forever or a promise that it will never break down.
In fact, all the love is — is love. It’s nothing more than that. Yet, when we love someone we can’t keep, it feels like ever so much more.
It feels like a death — a bitter end. It feels like darkness and an ache. It feels like loneliness and desire. It feels like too much and not ever enough.
When we want to keep that love and know we can’t, it’s a brutal truth that we wake up to first thing in the morning, our chests aching from all the love we feel. It’s the knowledge we lie down with at night, that haunts us even as we sleep. We feel like love isn’t something we should walk away from, and yet we know in our hearts that the best thing for us to do is to let go of what is not for us.
I used to have this idea of love. I thought that if I loved someone, it would be forever. I thought if I loved someone and they loved me, it would simply last. I don’t know where I got this idea, unless we’re counting the endless amount of happily-ever-after tales shoved down our throats over a lifetime.
But the truth is that not every relationship is meant to last. What looks good on paper may not work in real life, and seemingly right fits can be outgrown over time. While we may want to hold on, to hold close the familiarity and attachment, part of maturing is understanding that we don’t always get what we want — that respecting the people we love also means respecting what they want, too. Relationships fall apart — and sometimes, so do we.
While it’s a terrible experience, we come to that point where we just need to go let go — to acknowledge that the love doesn’t just leave even though the relationship ends. To accept what is and to make peace with it. To know that the love we feel isn’t invalidated by the end of the relationship. To understand that the right hearts choose us and the wrong ones are simply lessons on the way to somewhere else. To realize, finally, that letting go can also be an act of love.
Previously Published on medium
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