David Cotrone answers the question: what do you do if you love someone you want to hate?
You Can Trust Me,
I’m confused. I don’t want to let him but my ex confuses me. He’s the first person I really loved and I feel like I can’t move on. I don’t want to but I always go back to him. I just don’t know if I actually don’t love him anymore or if I’m just so scared of love and all of that. I’m not even sure the love I have for him is romantic. I can still see our life together in five, ten, twenty, fifty years and I still smile at that thought but I can’t imagine being with him now. I can’t. There’s a future, maybe, but there’s no present, and it makes my head hurt and tie itself in knots. He hurt me more than anyone else ever has and I should hate everything about him. He makes me feel like shit. The thought of him keeps me up at night. Today I couldn’t stop crying. I want to hate him so much but I just can’t. I would do anything he asked in a heartbeat. What should I do?
Get Me Out of Here
Get Me Out of Here,
Whichever kind of love it is, you still love him, and you shouldn’t be ashamed. Love has so many shapes, and none of them are wrong. You don’t have to chalk it up to first love and muscle memory, or wanting what’s out of reach. Sometimes those are excuses for what you really just want. I know how you feel. I know that it can be a strange feeling to want something and feel like you shouldn’t. But it’s OK. Believe me. It’s okay to say it: “This is what I want.” And it’s OK to feel hurt if you can’t have it. But instead of trying to lose what you have, try to accept it, and keep giving. Because love is like giving blood; you can give and give, and sometimes it hurts, but there will always be more. It’s no coincidence that blood comes from the heart.
But today you suffered.
Breathe, now. And take it in.
Today you suffered.
Sometimes the thing about suffering isn’t that it makes you stronger. It makes you weaker. It makes you want to crawl inside someone else and stay there, or else inside yourself, or else into nothing. It makes you want to crack open. It makes you want to cry.
Today you cried.
Today the river of you opened.
There’s this line from a story by Amy Hempel, a story from her book called Reasons to Live—a book that’s all, in some way, about dying. In the story, a woman spends time with her friend who’s sick in a hospital bed, her final days close. The friend asks the woman to make conversation, to tell her anything. “I told her insects fly through rain, missing every drop, never getting wet,” the woman says. By the end, the friend is dead, and all the woman can feel is regret, some of it faceless and some of it because she was too scared to be there the night her friend passed. You get the sense that there are kinds of grief that are nothing but dirty with regret or with fear. But through it all, the rain is what keeps rivers full. You’re brave enough to keep yourself from flying through and missing it. You’re brave enough to know that tears are like rivers, that they’re never for drowning.
But right now, you’re wrapped tight in a different kind of bravery. Right now, you’re brave enough to be hurting.
I know what you’re going through.
I too have woken up, sad to the bone. I’ve wanted to feel nothing and have almost reached that place by never getting out of bed, or by staying still. I’ve been lonelier than any word I know for loneliness. I’ve been alone.
But I’m not anymore.
Of course, that’s a lie. It’s a small lie. It would be a lie to say there are some mornings I would love for someone to come to my door and say, “It’s OK. It’s OK to get up. You’ll be okay. Let me hold you. Let me show you how to hold yourself. Let me show you how to walk into this world and touch everything you love, even once.”
For you, that day will come. It will because it has to. Because you’ll let it. You’ll realize that the heart is a hunter. And a net. And a house. And a room. You’ll come to know that once you let people in, there’s not much you can do in letting them out, no matter how hard you try. They’ll still be there, growing and breathing. And even if they change, and if you do too, well, there you are, like a family. The thing about family is that eventually you can go back. But for now, you can break away, like a rebel who has a reason to live.
If you have a question for David, email him at [email protected] You could be the next subject of “You Can Trust Me.”