The first time I met you, I loved you.
I hated that.
I did not want to fall in love.
I wanted to build a career on my own, develop stability without relying on a single soul. I did not want you. I did not need you. But I loved you.
Your hurricane of an entrance into my life forever stained my already tarnished view of love. You loved me for me. I was not ready to love me for me. How could anyone else? You were too good to be true, and that thought loomed over me like a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from.
I fell deep and fast and hard for you, picked up my life and fell apart piece by piece as I did so. You enveloped me into a suffocatingly comfortable love, and I unexpectedly became thrilled by the notion that anyone could possibly love someone like me. I embraced it. I reminded myself that it was okay to love, it was okay to accept happiness from someone else. You allowed me to believe that I didn’t need to provide my own happiness. I had you.
But then you left the same way you entered. Destructive.
I convinced myself that I was not the problem. You were.
* * *
When we met one winter night outside in the cold, shaking chills straight to the bone, I brushed you off. I already knew who you were. I’d been with nice people who told me I was worth something. I was not worth loving. I already knew that I would never be ready to love someone like you. You deserved better.
You were innocent. You gave love because you wanted to, not because you needed to. But I wasn’t ready to fall right back into love, and I wasn’t ready for someone like you. I copied the habits of my previous love and belittled you. Wasn’t that how loved worked?
* * *
I told you love didn’t exist in my life. I had places to go and you couldn’t come with. You were okay with that. Maybe I shouldn’t have been.
My friends said you were trouble, and I embraced that. I didn’t need love. I needed chaos. But you were more chaotic than I was, and when I sacrificed my dignity for your well being, abandoning all selflessness of me, I became unrecognizable.
Of course, I wasn’t ready for anyone. Of course.
* * *
Meeting you was being introduced to the end of the world. There was no recovering from you. You were simply just the end. Everything after you became a comparison, a simple “They can never be like you.” No one will ever compare to you. And that’s the last and final time I fell in love.
I told you I didn’t want to be in love. And then you let me fall for you. You let me love you and believe that love is everything it’s cracked up to be. But there’s a boundary to love, and we got caught between what was respectful love and what was possessive love. Am I still incorrect to compare everyone to you? Am I still misguided into believing you were the last great love I’ll never have again?
* * *
All of my friends are getting married and I still float about the world like I’m 22 with no cares and a bright future. They tell me to date, but I remember all of you, and I can’t bear to see myself lose whatever future I have left. I’m not ready for the person I could become in love. Will I ever be ready to fall in love? I’m not sure. I’m trying to learn how to love me.
I talk to you, my past love, my now friend, about my romance issues because I don’t know who else understands my unwillingness to ever be ready for anyone to respect me. You said there’s never a right time to fall in love and remind me of all the times I pushed you away. You remind me that we’re sitting in this cafe, conversing like friends, because that’s what I asked for when our relations could have been different had I respected you. But I’m 10 years behind all of my friends and I don’t know what I want out of life and I’m a mess. Can anyone fall in love with that?
You remind me that you once fell in love with this mess.
You remind me that you love the mess I am now, but differently, friendly, because I taught you that you deserved love and someone good for you, even if I hadn’t a clue how to provide that.
You remind me that I’ll never be ready for love because love has a habit of knocking people to the ground when they least expect it, and it’s impossible to be ready for life altering events. That’s why they’re called life-altering.
Maybe I’m not ready for love right now. I’ll never be. But I’ll try to accept it when I see it.