It is often said that true love lasts forever. I’m not sure true love exists. I think that in reality, love is a fleeting emotion. Temporary, and all the more precious for it. However, it’s possible to fall in love again and again for the same person. Each time they do something that makes you smile, and your heart flutter.
When love ends it’s not the end of the world, just the end of your time together. You discover some principle they have that is diametrically opposed to one of your own, or they behave in a way that you find shameful or repugnant one too many times to balance with their enduring qualities. Perhaps they just flat out refuse to conform to your preconceived perceptions, or insist you do something that you find boring, useless or disgusting? It doesn’t really matter. There’s nothing you can do to change it.
Unless you can make them fall back in love with you, but that one’s tricky. Usually, there’s a bond of trust that forms between people in a relationship. At the very least there’s a familiarity between you both and the prospect of having to be single and fend for yourself again inspires some resentment. At least one partner will probably feel betrayed. It’s unlikely they’ll ever trust you again.
Especially if you pull it off. You show them you’ve changed and given them everything they ever wanted from you, so they give you another chance. Then you regress back to old behaviour patterns as soon you feel like things are good between you. Yet the alternative is worse, having to accept that you failed to do what every successful adult is supposed to do. Find your one true love and be married to them forever.
You don’t find out until you’re in the mess of relationships that falling in love is easy, and we often fall so hard and so fast that we’re swept away by the blessed miracle that we have found our one true love so soon. You find yourself making little concessions for this person, and making excuses for them so you can maintain the delusion that you’re going to stay with them forever.
Some people manage it. Live perfectly content lives, soldiering on together through hardships and victories. Bottling up the resentment over how much you had to give up to keep the relationship going. Even old lovebirds that smile and talk to one another happily, can still cry when they’re alone. Regretting the chances they could’ve taken if they hadn’t played it safe.
They chose to hold on to that one constant individual, even if it means lying to themselves and each other. It’s silly, and it’s based on something that isn’t real. Wouldn’t you rather live a real life? One in which you make big risks, stupid mistakes, have genuine adventures, new experiences, and fall in love all over again? It is a choice. A real choice we can all take. We can stop living the lie, admit the love is gone, ride through the resentment, the withdrawal and the fear of being alone forever.
We can stop living the lie, admit the love is gone, ride through the resentment, the withdrawal and the fear of being alone forever. Or, we can stick with what we’re used to. We can apologise for things we know we haven’t done wrong, just to keep the peace. We can wear that awful garment they say you look good in, hoping it will rekindle the romance, even though it makes you feel ugly, weak and dishonest. At least you’ll be able to look back on your life and say “We stayed married”!
I wanted so badly to stay married until she said something to me that completely broke my world view. She said, “It’s not your job to make me happy”. I may have mentioned this before, and if so sorry for repeating myself but I’m going to say this again anyway. I had believed until that point that my true purpose in life, as her one true love, was to make her happy. Suddenly I felt like I had no reason to exist.
Now, to be completely fair here, I hadn’t been doing very well. I would promise to do something different to make her happy, and I would do that thing (such as wash the pots more often, or maintain a house planner) for a little while. Then I would slide back into old habits.
Arguably, this could be just ADHD. Unable to focus on necessary tasks, because it’s boring as fuck and I don’t want to. Especially when it doesn’t need doing yet, and I’m really really enjoying my Xbox 360. Which she bought me, by the why, to illustrate that she recognised I’m not happy and wanted me to have more recreational time.
Whenever we talked (usually after a fight) she would tell me that I needed to spend more time with friends and have something in my life other than just her, and yet the fight would usually start because I hadn’t been writing chores that needed doing into the planner and marking them off one by one as they are completed each day.
In hindsight, I understand now that she also wanted me to schedule in ‘me’ time and friends time. I think she seriously imagined that I would be able to breathe in a strictly scheduled life in which I plan out each day meticulously in order to balance my work life, home life and all other pleasures of life in perfect harmony. I can see why it would have comforted her to live in such a safe and predictable world, but I felt trapped.
Even writing “Monday – laundry, Tuesday – groceries, Wednesday – litterboxes, Thursday – dusting” and left every other day blank. Leaving that journal out for her to oversee and check was enough to make me feel like a caged bird with a snake in the room. Beating it’s clipped little wings pathetically to escape. I’d build the cage myself though, and it was keeping her out.
Those words of hers let me see the bars. When we were dating, she told me that she saw greatness in me. When she took it back, telling me ‘I don’t see that in you anymore’ I saw that the key had been in the lock the whole time. It still took me a little while after that to pluck up the courage to open the door and escape.
It also turned out to be more like a multi-walled fortress than a cage, and I think I may still be working my way through some of the outer defenses. Turns out imaginative people can build one heck of a prison! It had oubliettes. Go watch Labyrinth (again), followed by Dark City and at least 3 documentaries about medieval castle defences. You’ll thank me for the imagery. 🙂
I thought about her words and realised something. If she saw something great in me when I was single and confident, and dressed all in black, perhaps I needed to go back to that. Not to win her back. That had been the plan shortly after we broke up, but that ship sailed when she told me about her new boyfriend.
I started to notice how ratty her face was (in hindsight, this may explain why I often use giant rats as villains in my stories), and how immature and nonsensical some of her opinions and assertions were then. I became determined to find my greatness despite her pronouncement that my chance at greatness was behind me. To come back to who I was before I met her, make some different choices, and be the person I was meant to be.
I may have missed the window for greatness, but I’m going to do my damnedest to get close to it. I want you to know, in advance, that I appreciate all your help on the way there. Maybe together we can build something greater than all of us, and perhaps the spirit of the Creative Writers group will continue after we’ve all gone. Who knows. For now, I’m just enjoying taking the journey with you all.
Have a great day 🙂 I hope you enjoy my writing