Subtitled: Love… I do not think that word means what you think it means.
To start, thank you, ex-girlfriend. My gratitude is multi-faceted.
One, thank you for being ex.
Two, thank you for keeping it short. I didn’t have the energy, the foresight, or the courage to say “I’m done” on my own.
Three, thank you for teaching me that it is okay to say that I love someone and not mean it how I always thought I should mean it.
Growing up, and for many years as an adult, love was supposed to be the epitome of perfection in a relationship. It was supposed to be a symbol of cherishing someone fully and completely. It was supposed to mean that you would do anything for them, at any time, without expectation of something in return. Love was supposed to mean that the relationship was solid, and lasting, and definite.
And I said it to you, knowing the emotion I was feeling was none of those things. But I said it anyway. I said it to try to make it easier for us to connect. I said it to help build a foundation on what was very rocky soil. I said it because I wanted you to feel comfortable and safe.
I was not wrong for saying it. You were not wrong for responding in kind.
That is not to say that we were not wrong together, because goodness knows, we were. We did not cherish each other. We both had unspoken expectations that led to a destabilization of our framework.
But you taught me that love can mean plenty more than, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Hell, it might not even mean, “I want to spend the rest of the month with you.”
Love can mean that in the moment, you are ready to express appreciation. I appreciated you, and what you added to my life in those moments. You added the joy of dancing, revitalized the spark in my love of editing, you introduced me to a new way of looking at the world.
Love can mean that in the moment, you are wanting to express gratitude. I was grateful that you made me think, that you caused me to wonder about various choices people made. You made me grateful for the choices I had had the strength and courage to make in the past.
Love can mean that in the moment, you are infatuated and want to allow yourself to be consumed by that lust. I was completely head over heels for the woman who was mysterious and thoughtful, and I wanted nothing more than to be able to prove my own worth to you.
Perhaps the most important lesson for me, though, was the piece I have now written over and over… “in the moment.”
Love can be temporary. Thank you for teaching me that. I loved you, and I am not ashamed of having loved. I no longer love you outside of my capacity to love all of humankind, and that means I really need to go back to the drafting document to redefine “love” when used in reference to a specific person.
I love that I am given that opportunity.