I spent an hour choosing the outfit you’d break-up with me in.
It was perfect. Floral print dress. Soft brown boots. Slouchy sweater. An ideal outfit to ease the transition from summer to fall. One you’d never seen and that might be special enough to make you remember me. Maybe even love me again.
You never showed up that night. You never saw that dress.
I remember when the text finally came in to confirm my suspicions. It was over. And you weren’t coming to see me. Not now. Not ever. That message felt like gasoline in the pit of my stomach. Thick, heavy, and toxic.
I put that dress in the donations pile last week while clearing out my closet. It was shoved in a corner and long forgotten. I instantly teared up when I pulled out that wrinkled garment. I didn’t cry for you. Not for the “someday” family we once talked about. Not for the love we used to share.
I cried for the girl in the floral print dress. The one who knew she was about to be let go, but thought she could somehow preserve a relationship if she ran her fingers over enough pieces of fabric to choose the right dress. The girl who wanted to look soft and feminine for you.
Because, if she did, maybe you wouldn’t break her heart.
Sometimes I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about you.
I think about the first kisses we’ll have. The first kiss as a married couple. The first kiss after a big fight. The first kiss after surviving the holidays with your family, and mine. I’ll remember these moments in such detail that there will be no space for memories of first kisses with others.
I think about how we’ll be next to each other on the couch and you’ll reach over, unprompted, in that hand-on-the-thigh-that-doesn’t-usually-survive-marriage-kind-of-way. I’ll still want you, day after day, month after month, year after year. We’ll never stop awkwardly flirting with each other.
I think about the times you’ll inevitably get frustrated with me. When I spend our money on an overpriced eye cream that promises to make me look 10 years younger, or forget to get the tires rotated on our car, or neglect to help you plan something important. You’ll get upset with me, but in a way that says I better make up for it by picking up teriyaki for dinner tonight; not in a way that threatens to break us.
I think about you. I wonder if I’ve already met you; if we’ve already had our first first kiss. I wonder if you’ll read this post someday and think I’m a crazy person who needs to just let life happen, or if you’ll tell me you stayed up late thinking about the same things.
I think, I think, I think.
Here’s the thing. You have to forgive yourself.
Forgive yourself for the time you were 6 and your grandma asked you to come sit with her and you said no. Forgive yourself for the sadness in her eyes. Forgive yourself that you can’t take it back and she’s no longer here.
Forgive yourself for the days when just one iced mocha isn’t enough. Forgive yourself when you consume too much sugar and your skin is a mess and you don’t go to the gym because you’d rather lay in bed and watch Sex & the City reruns.
Forgive yourself for feeling happy and sad when you receive a friend’s wedding invitation. Forgive yourself for secretly doubting that anyone will ever love you like that. Forgive yourself for all the other things that haven’t happened yet.
Forgive yourself for dating a man who didn’t love or respect you. Forgive yourself for letting him talk you into ordering whiskey when you asked for water. Forgive yourself for taking far too long to get over him.
Forgive yourself for feeling jealous of other girls. Forgive yourself for not being brave enough to dress like them. Forgive yourself for feeling too self-conscious to wear bright makeup and cut your hair short.
Forgive yourself for letting others down. Forgive yourself for mean things you said and every selfish thought and the times you didn’t show up. Forgive yourself for breaking promises — to others, to yourself.
Forgive yourself for not always choosing the right path. Forgive yourself for getting lost along the way. Forgive yourself that somewhere, in a parallel universe, another version of you is doing life better.
Forgive. And know that there is still time for you.
You will fall in love.
You will see the best of that person. You will see the worst of that person.
And you will decide you want both.
You will let that love burn you and melt away the walls you’ve built up around your heart.
You will find your heartbeat again.
Love is a beautiful and terrifying thing.
Because it’s hard to know if you’re losing yourself, or if you’re becoming more of yourself…
The version that fits perfectly with someone else.
I recently traveled to Iceland and was blown away by overwhelming beauty.
I hope beautiful things are blowing you away too.
Sometimes you collapse on the floor, put your head in your hands, and cry and cry and cry.
Eventually, you stop. You lift your eight hundred pound head from your palms and somehow manage to stand. You walk into the bathroom, splash water on your face and remove what’s left of your mascara.
You return to your room and there is nothing. There is only you. You ask for permission to give up and the darkness answers.
The short answer is no. The long answer is no. You cannot give up.
You crawl under the covers and beg the darkness to swallow you if it refuses to let you quit. It concedes and you feel your body grow heavy with sleep.
Tomorrow will be good. Tomorrow you will start over. This is just one of the spaces between.
- He will find me if I get lost.
– He uses the dry seasons to prepare my heart for rain.
– He has shown me grace.
– He is showing me grace.
– He will continue to show me grace.
– He will not love me less and cannot love me more.
– He doesn’t need me to be pretty for him.
– With him, everyone is welcome.
Life is full of go-to-the-gym-out-of-guilt, barista-messes-up-your-coffee-order, praying-no-one-leaves-you-a-voicemail kind of days. And I’m glad. Despite what we think we want sometimes, life cannot be an ongoing dramatic scene. We need the mundane days. They help us rejuvenate and recognize when important moments slip in.
I don’t know how to define the good moments but I know they’re cloud-like and free and drenched in sunlight. Like the feeling of totally, unapologetically being yourself with someone and knowing they find you charming. The feeling of a whole day with nothing but whatever you want on the agenda. The feeling of someone holding you close, kissing your forehead and promising, “I will love you.”
I guess what I’m saying is that your life is beautiful and continuously unfolding. You will worry about how your career will turn out and what’s fair and how you measure up against peers. You will forget that you don’t have a career. You have a life. And all the mundane days and the beautiful moments will add up to something greater than you can imagine. Keep the faith. Be truthful. Say thank you.