I’m Sorry I Can’t Love You

Natalie Allen
Natalie Allen

You caught me off guard. With your blue eyes and your stupid laugh. It’s funny, isn’t it, how we seem to find happiness in the strangest of places.

I was just trying to be, to exist, to find myself again. Reeling from a breakup I was selfish, focused, determined.

I went through my days routinely, religiously. Finding peace in simplicity, grace in the people around me.

I found that happiness was belting out country songs at a stoplight, sharing cheeseburgers and fries with best friends, sitting in silence under the stars. I learned that love is not solely centered on one person, and is not one single feeling. Love is transitive—people, places, memories.

But then you came along. All arms and hands and shoulders and smiles. Shy at first, and patient. Listening when I needed you. And distracting me, when I didn’t know that was what I needed.

You didn’t try to say all the right things; you didn’t try to be the man I wanted. But somewhere in the mess of late nights and tequila shots, it wasn’t me that changed. It was you.

You wanted to be that man I needed, wanted to be that mend, that fix to my broken heart. But you can’t be those things. And I’m sorry.

I am a wounded woman. Not destroyed, still strong. But a woman whose heart is entangled with a man from her past, who still thinks about him on quiet mornings, who still replays those memories like a faded filmstrip and sighs into her pillow.

I don’t want him. But I still love him. And will love him for a while. See, this is the hardest part of falling out of love. You become whole again, but you still have those slivers of memory, reminding you that yes, that was real.

I’m sorry I cannot love you. This isn’t a choice I made, but an unconscious feeling. I cannot love you because my heart is still caught in the mess of someone else. I cannot love you because I am too selfish, too determined, too content in being the girl on her own.

I am not a grieving woman. I am not a woman to be pitied or consoled.

I am not broken, not weak, not unfit to love.

I just can’t love you right now, can’t love at all right now.

I need some time to breathe. To remember what it’s like to sit alone on the backyard patio and drink in the sun. To sleep across the entirety of my bed, sprawled and free.

I need time to know what it is I really want. Because right now I know I may get lonely, but I don’t mind being alone. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Marisa Donnelly

Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

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