all grown up

I really enjoyed tonight’s installments of Girls.  This season has been surprisingly great, and I’ve been so happy to see the women in the show finally reflect some of the things I’ve felt as a woman.

Tonight’s episode, in an odd way, was about growing up.  About owning your mistakes, claiming your crap, and dealing with the messes you’ve made.

In the end, the “girls” in the show started showing glimpses of the women they’d become, and it was inspiring (and brave…but so painful).

I’m not going to get into the details in this entry, but I wanted to share something the show made me think about.  Namely, related to love.

How–for better or for worse–some people leave their marks on you.  How we tear each other apart and how we lift each other up.  How sometimes we settle.  And how, eventually, we find our way to freedom…by telling the truth.

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Lately, I’ve been grappling with some of these things.  It’s not an unfamiliar place for me.  It’s a place where I’m keenly aware of my power and the fact that things aren’t always simple.  I feel drawn to things that feel like old pairs of shoes–things I’m unsure are right for who I am now–and are risky…might hurt a whole lot…but I wonder if I’m just circling the same drain.  Again and again.

And then there’s the other road I could choose.  It’s easier.  It’s warm.  It’s certain–or at least–more certain than this other path.  If I choose this road, I’m in control.

A few years ago, I was in this relationship with a guy I loved enough.  But if you asked me why, I had a hard time answering.  He felt like those old yoga shoes I wore till they had a hole in the toe.  And eventually, they started hurting until I had to throw them out.  I had the shoes for months after I knew throwing them out was what was necessary.  But I tried to convince myself that the rubbing didn’t hurt so bad.  That I could tolerate it.  That my love for these shoes made up for the pain they caused me.

But the love I had for those shoes was not about how they looked or how they functioned.  It was all about the comfort of them, and when they started rubbing, the roots of that love slowly disappeared until all I had left was pain and resentment.

As much as I’d like to believe that I’ve loved all my exes just as much as the one before or the one after, the truth is each love was different and served a different purpose.  Some guys I loved and didn’t grieve at all when it was over.  Some, I spent years getting over and felt crippled by even after I met new people.

In my life, there have been two great loves.  And I remember this moment when one of them wrote me a letter out of the blue, finally saying things I wished he’d said years before.  And I remember I shared it with this boyfriend of mine–tears streaming down my face–this pile of emotion–this pile of gratitude because that guy I loved once didn’t just fucking disappear when he stopped loving me.  And in that moment–though I wasn’t in love with him anymore and was grateful it had ended–I realized something.

If the guy I was crying to–who I loved enough–had one day decided to stop loving me?  If he did what my other ex had done–and if–years later–he’d written me a letter?  I would have said thank you, noted it to the important people in my life–with a possible eyeroll–and gone about my day.  I would not have bawled until my eyes were puffy.  I would not have felt any love for him.  It would have been a blip.

And that’s one of the things that started me getting out of it.  Though I had known for months it needed to end.  And I still wasn’t brave enough to break his heart.  And eventually his ignorance and my anger was what finally slammed the door shut.

But in that moment, I was free.  Because I knew exactly what love was.  I knew exactly what I deserved and what I didn’t have.  And I wasn’t willing to keep the things that didn’t make me bawl like a baby.

And that’s why I was single for a long time after.  Because nothing grabbed me like that.  Nothing reminded me of that feeling of wanting to be with someone for the rest of your days on this planet.

This year, I’ve felt glimpses of that.  And I guess–now–I want to be sure.  I hesitate and pause.  I don’t throw myself at it or chase it.  I mostly just examine it like a glass orb and handle it when trying to forget it seems impossible.  I am not sure.  I may never be.  But maybe that’s what this kind of love is.  Risking that you’re repeating all your idiocy and knowing it could rip you apart as it always does.  And wanting it to be easy and simple and convenient.

But real love takes courage.  And growing up means trusting that maybe you aren’t so stupid, after all. Maybe all you have to say is you don’t really know what to do.  And maybe that’s enough.

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