I hesitate to call these lessons, as I am only 21 years old.
But, I have truly loved and lost in the most tragic way possible.
Here are some of the things I have seen along the way and some of the things I am still learning from:
1. If you find love, have the courage to jump right in.
We met around three years ago, and he passed away from cancer last year.
There are two moments seared into my mind.
Maybe I will forget the details and the words that were said, but I will never forget the feeling.
The first moment: We had met a few weeks earlier at a party, and we had started chatting online and even Skyping for hours.
He came to San Francisco, and I picked him up at his hotel after doing some crazy Market Street driving maneuvers.
I was flustered and worried about being awkward.
He was just drumming on the dashboard, humming a song and getting really into planning our day of adventures.
There were no awkward moments or small talk.
I was trying to ease into the pool, and he had already jumped in.
The second moment: We were standing in the upstairs living room at his house in London.
We had a moment with just us, but some family members had arrived, so we had to make our way down the stairs.
I think this was the day he was going to check in to hospice, or maybe it was the day before.
We were upstairs, and he stopped me.
He said he didn’t think he would be able to talk very much in the next few days because of the drugs, but he was grateful I was part of his life and he loved me.
I said I loved him, and we just held hands at the top of the staircase and looked at each other the way two people would look at each other before they jumped off a sinking ship together.
I think you know you’ve found someone special when you meet them for the first time, and it feels like you’re just picking up where you left off. You kind of look at them and think, ‘Where the hell did you come from? Where the hell have you been?’
— Caitlyn Siehl
2. We often confuse love and trust.
When my friend’s boyfriend cheated on her, she asked me questions like, "How can I both feel so betrayed and want to be with him?" and "How do I trust him again?"
Saying, “I love you” to someone is supposedly a big deal.
On the other hand, we say things like, “Oh, he seems trustworthy” shortly after meeting someone.
Love is a powerful, mysterious feeling, and it's one we don’t know much about.
Trust, however, is not a feeling that just comes on in the same way; it is an evidence-based quality.
It can only be built with time, after seeing someone operate in the world for a while and having a reasonable basis to make assumptions about his or her future behavior.
Trust is not something you can think yourself into; you have to experience life with someone in order to come to trust him or her.
To me, it should be more acceptable to express love for someone instantly, and to wait a while before trusting.
If someone has broken your trust in some way, and you find yourself feeling guilty or confused about why you still want to be with that person or forgive that person, know that it’s okay.
You can love someone even if you don’t trust that person.
Love can inspire you to make the commitment of time, energy and emotional vulnerability to build or rebuild trust with him or her.
Or, it might not.
Just don’t think the process has to be instantaneous.
Love can be unconditional, even while trust must be earned.
Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.
— Maya Angelou
3. You can fall in love with someone who's not ready to be in love.
I met someone cool. He thinks I’m cool, too.
But, he says he’s “not ready,” and it’s hard for me to understand.
We exist like a Venn diagram .
At the center, there's something that's like the opposite of loneliness.
It’s no surprise I can’t help pulling on the edges.
Maybe I’m overanalyzing the situation.
Maybe I'm overanalyzing the summary of our letters and poems, all of our psychoanalytical conversations we had the first week he stayed for tea almost every day and the horrible feeling I get when he doesn't text me back and I think, "He's just not that into me."
But, my gut and my best friend say, "It’s more likely he’s actually not ready to be in a relationship."
What do I do with that? Wait?
I don’t know how to handle his uncertainty, which is like a bowl of water filled exactly to the brim.
Sometimes, I want to throw it in his face, but I hold my breath to keep everything from spilling.
To me, a relationship is a framework for freedom. Inside, there is no hesitation.
There is no mistrust or insecurity.
It's just him, me and another cup of tea.
If he thinks choosing love means being unafraid, then I doubt anyone in the history of love was ever ready.
But, I honor my loss by choosing love over fear.
I fight myself a lot when I try not to text him.
But as someone wise once said to me, he is too much like me for me to ignore him.
If I was patient, I would probably stop talking about it, in hopes he would come around someday.
We would hang out on his terms, and I wouldn’t flinch when he mentioned other people.
For the record, I’m not patient.
For the record, I’m in love with him.
He says he's learning to trust that what you want is what you need.
I’m learning to trust that what I need is just as valid.
Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not join you on the bridge. And whatever their reasons, you must leave, because you never ever have to inspire anyone to meet you on the bridge. You never ever have to convince someone to do the work to be ready. There is more extraordinary love, more love that you have never seen, out here in this wide and wild universe. And there is the love that will be ready.
— Nayyirah Waheed