Lost & Found

Photo by  Jasmine Waheed

After not thinking about romantic love much at all over the better part of the past year, I've been thinking about it a lot the past couple of months. It began as somewhat of a somber conversation in my therapist's office. I told her about how, for my whole life, I had maintained such a deep belief that there was such a thing as abiding, magical, true love. Much like I was the last of my friends to believe in Santa Clause, so it was with love. I sustained this belief through difficult breakups, and periods of singledom. Even during those times when the world seemed dark, I continued to believe in that pristine, magical seed of hope buried deep, down at the core of it all--and that seed was love.

I've always had the ability to see the bigger picture. Even after relationships came to an end--and even if that end was not ideal--I could always see the purpose that person filled in my life. I could see how he somehow upleveled me to that next step that led me closer to where I wanted to go. It was all progress, and it was all worth it, even when it didn't work out.

And then, all of a sudden, I didn't believe anymore.

For a while, I was okay with that. My attention was in other places. It didn't feel like there was anything missing from my life, and there was certainly plenty of love all around and within me--it just wasn't of the romantic variety. That seemed okay. In fact, life felt more full and free than it had in a long, long time. Until a couple of months ago, when I realized that what was sacrificed in this new belief system was an integral, core part of me that I hadn't even recognized the importance of until it was gone. That part of me that believed in magic.

Still, though, I didn't have an answer for it.I didn't see how I could possibly ever again trust or believe in something that had let me down so profoundly.

And then, something happened--one of those moments when something that has never even occurred to you, all of a sudden clicks clearly and firmly into place. I accidentally fell into a conversation with this guy. I'd been around him for several days without having anything more than very surface conversations that I didn't think twice about. Then, out of the blue, he asked me a seemingly simple question. I gave him an answer that appeared to be innocuous, but he understood what I was saying below the surface in a way that no one else has, no matter how close to me they are. He just got it.

We immediately and naturally fell into a deep, very raw conversation, and came to realize that, in several ways, our lives are currently in similar places. In the matter of about thirty minutes, I was able to express more to this guy than I have been able to with even those people in my life who are closest to me. Because, again, he just got it without the need for the explanations or qualifications I usually find myself offering. 

At the end of the conversation, he told me, "I think that what you're doing right now for your daughter is the most beautiful thing a woman can do."

I usually brush off compliments. I get awkward, and embarrassed, and feel like I somehow haven't earned them or that I'm not worthy. This one landed, though, and it landed hard. I earned this shit, and I can own it. I have dedicated every hour of my life for the past nearly-365 days to earning this one, and I have invested every part of my mind, body, and soul into it. And my heart--especially my heart.

That's when it clicked for me. In every single romantic situation I've ever been in--no matter how fleeting or lasting--I've always needed some sort of proof from the other person. I've needed to have some quality reflected back at me that I couldn't find or confirm within myself. Sometimes that's been the need to feel sexy or desirable; other times it's been the need to feel capable or needed; and sometimes I've even felt the need to save someone to compensate for others who have come before that I couldn't "save" (which is such a ridiculous notion, in the first place). Over the years, the spaces I've needed filled by an outside source have run the gamut, but there's always been an element of something missing that I felt like I couldn't give to myself. 

Here's the amazing thing I realized in that moment: I don't need anyone else to prove anything about me to myself anymore. In the past year, I have shown myself everything I need to know about me. If I look over the course of my life, most of that stuff was already there, I just couldn't see it or own it.

Now I can. And that opens up the doorway to ... well, anything, really.

I don't know what the future holds. I don't know exactly what I want. But I do know that the notion of nebulous possibility is there again. And that is magical in and of itself.