To be honest, I struggled with this piece because I did not know where to start. As far back as I know, there has never been a time when I did not view romance as an obstacle. Until now. Maybe romance is the wrong word to use. But I think love is also the wrong word to use. For these past years away from home, I have been loved. I have known love from God, my family, my friends, and my teachers. And I describe love as wanting what is the highest good for someone else.
But romance or romantic love has been the thing I have shut myself away from. Except in 2015. And again in 2017. But that was neither here nor there. In fact, maybe this title is inaccurate. I have always known that love and romantic partnership can be a source of joy and strength. But my parents raised me to choose myself first. When I reflect on some of the males by whom I have been surrounded, I may have had to temper my ambition, my goals, and consider theirs.
I have feared propelling someone forward while leaving myself behind. I had seen many women do that. I had seen “love” consume them; swallow them whole, chew them up, and spit them out. I had seen “love” bruise and disorient them. Although that was not love, I did not know it. I did not want that to be my story, so I played it safe. My parents had invested too much, given too much, denied themselves too much for me to squander any ounce of my dreams.
Now I see that they were not wrong in what they taught me. I was wrong in how I interpreted their lessons. I did not realize this flaw in interpretation and could not recognize this misunderstanding until a few months ago. In taking a break from school, the one thing I had thrown myself into utterly, I began to see what stood there all along. I had always thought of love and ambition as mutually exclusive. I still don’t know why.
Maybe it is because I tend to see in absolutes. I had friends who were in loving romantic relationships with others and still excelled in areas where I prioritized. Somehow, I didn’t think it applied to me. In hindsight, that makes such little sense. It reminds me of the time I visited a therapist and confessed that I did not like having little treats and relaxing because I would spoil myself and forget how to work hard. I remember the pause that just hung in the air and the small smile that made me reconsider what I had just said.
‘Okay. That makes no sense’, I said.
‘You don’t just forget how to work hard. That is an enduring character trait’, she replied.
I agreed then and I agree now.
Why did I fear that the person coming into my life was going to subtract from instead of add to it?
Why didn’t the fact that I had seen love and stride convince me?
Why did I not see this until now?
My ability to analyze and plan is both my superpower and my Achilles heel. And I love my mind. But there is freedom in letting go. Entrusting my heart will be to someone who knows its value. Events in recent months have shown me how easily my heart is broken. I forgot that about myself. But calcifying should not be my response. The appropriate response should be to be wiser, enjoy life, and trust that God will order my steps. For a personality like mine, letting go is hard. But it can be learnt.
Who says only vampires are on the other side of the door? Angels could be standing there too.
Photo: Ekaterina via Pexels