I Wish I Didn’t Love You
It’s hard to remember the time before I loved you. It exists all in some kind of vague, dull haze — a primordial soup of half-feelings and tired complacency. I know that it was good at the time, that I felt the peaks and valleys of happiness just as acutely as I do now, but I can’t remember it. It’s as though life was in black-and-white then, that every edge was dulled and noise muffled, and I didn’t know that color was an option. It was perfectly acceptable to go through life in this cloudy facsimile of what life could actually be, unaware that so much could change with the addition of a certain kind of love. How could I have known that the grass could be this Technicolor green, that morning coffee could be so deep and rich and sweet, that clouds could stand out so perfectly puffy-white against a sky too blue to look at? I wish I didn’t know this world, that you hadn’t shown it to me, because I can’t ever go back to the muted one I lived in before.
I wish I did not constantly struggle to remind myself that I am good, too, that I don’t need anyone to complete me or to make things okay — that I am not a puzzle with a jagged piece missing in the center. But I must often be talked back from the ledge of consumption, of feeling as though life is distinctly less worth living if this love does not exist within it. I tell myself that such a position is incredibly risky, that it is taking a jump without a parachute and hoping that you land on something soft — but I don’t listen. I am so much happier to let the undertow take me out far, far past the shore, to a distance I could not swim back from, rather than spend my days fighting against this wonderful, comforting current.
Will I forget who I am without you? What is the ultimate emotional toll of seeing yourself more as half of a whole than an entity to be cultivated and loved and improved on its own? Does one fade further and further into dependency and compromise, a copy of a copy of a copy of the full person they used to be? I wish I didn’t worry that I was suppressing some incredible life of personal agency and freedom. I wish that I could say that life is still being lived entirely on my terms, that I didn’t consider my future and my decisions as things to be made by consensus of two. I think about your plans, and wonder first if they coincide with mine. I wonder where they will take me, how they will twist and tangle with the plans I see, and what it will end up doing to the both of us. There is so much to love about the life lived totally for oneself, that considers only the dreams and aspirations and pleasures of one, in which life is a limitless hallway of open doors. And yet, I find myself even more excited at the prospect of taking your life and your desires into mine — did I lose that young, free, enterprising spirit? I wish I didn’t care so deeply about what you think.
And there is always the possibility, no matter how deep and consuming this love is right now, that it could all come to an unceremonious end one day. Like someone switching off a light as they walk out of a room, the connection that we have invested so deeply in could be stopped too abruptly to prepare for. There could come a moment when you or I wake up and feel markedly less passionate than we did the day before, when our love turns into a vague kind of discomfort, when we realize that we have fallen out of whatever this was and need to immediately begin looking for the EXIT sign. What if the other is still deeply involved? What if they watch as the love crumbles before their eyes, pulls farther and farther away from itself, until you hold the other in your arms and feel as though you’re grasping at gusts of wind? I have had nightmares of confronting this reality, of accepting that so much of my happiness was constructed on something so fragile, so impossible to guarantee. What then? Do I just put one foot in front of the other and pretend as though this whole passage of my life never occurred?
Life would be so simple without this love, without the fear and complexity and consideration of another impossible-to-understand human that it brings. I could live every day secure in the knowledge that I couldn’t be hurt, that I was in control of my destiny, and that nothing was stopping me from living in a perfect, selfish playground of the id. I could fall in love with myself instead, be thrilled by my own successes and challenges, and not sacrifice an ounce of my personal agency. I could be free. But I can’t pretend that I want that, that such a life — no matter how appealing it might have been before I met you — could ever appeal to me now. There is a part of me that, no matter how terrifying such love is, has become fully addicted to the feeling of symbiotic need, that gets a contact high from every sentence that starts with “we.” I wish I didn’t love you in such a precarious, unfiltered way; but I am so very, very glad that I do.
A | A | A
Disappointment is a lesson we all need to learn.
3. To Praise Little Victories
You are the desperate stalker, obsessing over every second that passes that you don’t hear anything. You are That Applicant.
What – I believe in love, OK?