With any crush growing up, my mom would always say the same thing. She would have me picture a burning piece of paper and what would happen to said paper if I were to hold onto it too tightly. The tighter my grip, the faster it disintegrates. Before long, it’s gone.
As the metaphor goes on, I shouldn’t hold things too tightly. If things are meant to be, it would be effortless.
But I think that’s always been my greatest strength and my greatest weakness, stemming from years of poor relationships and seeking validation in the wrong places.
I have always been a very deeply emotional person. Numerous people have said this to me before, and it seems that with every passing year, my reservoir for tears continues to grow. I feel things deeply and am moved very easily.
This means that I let my guard down quickly. In an effort to gain validation, I give myself to people. I want them to like me and I open myself up to letting that happen. In an effort to control the environment, I will chase after ways to ensure that I was on the right side. And in the midst of chaos and disintegration, I try to chase after all the pieces, frantically trying to put it together and keep it together. Keep “us” together.
I’m a sentimental person. Someone would call me overly sentimental. I remember things that have seemingly no value – the first time we talked, the first time you called me cute, some of the sweet things you’ve whispered into my ears and the times we were laughing so hard that we couldn’t even speak.
I remember things and replay things in my mind, good and bad. I hold on to these things.
These are the things that allow me to give you benefit of the doubt. You’re a good person, I tell myself. Because you did this and this and this. A bad person wouldn’t do those things for me.
And I know you’re a good person. But I guess I’m just holding onto memories, ideas, and thoughts.
I try to be detached. Play it cool, pretend like nothing matters, and that I really don’t give a shit about anything. But how can we live this way? How can we take nothing seriously and say that nothing matters?
I’m seeing now that what I said and how I feel is in itself a discrepancy. I’m holding onto memories, ideas, and thoughts of you.
I’ve never been a runner. I try, but I always get tired. But the things I never seem to get tired of chasing? Validation. Trust. Love.
I put a lot of my self-worth on your validation of me. I know, a heavy burden to put on your shoulders. When I finally – finally – took off the rose-coloured glasses, I began to see how ridiculous it was. I saw how far I ran and how long I had chased this idea of us in an effort to make us a reality.
We had talked about this previously though, hadn’t we? Let’s be friends, we said, and we shook hands on that. But I still chased the possibility of one day. That one day you would change your mind, realize that I had been here this whole time, and that this was exactly what you needed.
But I felt like I was getting in your way. I felt like this for a long time. I should just stop, step back, and let you be.
Slowly though, I began to see myself a little clearer. Why was I getting in your way? I was busy too. I was making time in my day to say hi and be the ultimate cheerleader. And though I never expected anything in return – I didn’t need anything from you – I still kind of, sort of expected reciprocation.
You didn’t owe me anything, of course. But I still chased after it.
One gets tired of running after a while.
This is always the tricky part.
To be clear, this isn’t a good-bye. I know that I will always value the person you are and who you were in this part of my life.
It’s only good-bye if you want it to be.
But on my end, it’s a step back. It’s the full acceptance that you don’t owe anything, you never did, and it’s okay.
It’s also a step forward for me. Recognizing that I shouldn’t feel this way, and taking active steps to walk away from it.
It’s hard, because I’m a prideful person. There are parts of me that want to see you suffer and fail.
But that’s wrong. That’s not fair.
So let’s call it a truce. You’re a great person who deserves everything that you’ve worked hard to accomplish.
But I’m also a great person who deserves someone who will share their time with me in the way that I will with them. And maybe you weren’t that person for me right now. I’m not angry or upset with you – I think I am more so upset with myself – but we learn, we let go, and we move on.
I know you’ll find your happiness, I know that I’ll find my own happiness. For a time, I thought you were mine and that I finally got it.
We’re back at square one, but I’m surprisingly okay with it.
On holding on, chasing, and letting go. It took me a while to get around to it, and it’s a cycle that I am way too familiar with.
Maybe this time, I’ll get it right.
Lead image: Marc-Olivier Jodoin