For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a romantic. Falling in love at first sight was a weekly occurrence as a boy-crazed teen, and heartbreak over a crush lost to the age difference, time, or someone else occupying the place I pined for even more frequent. Years turned into decades later, with bigger crushes that turn into handshakes and hellos, hugs and then kisses, and even harder falls and relational losses, I sometimes wonder if I’m still that little girl making more of something that didn’t really mean anything, that wasn’t even real. Stuck in the make-believe of my lingering romantic fantasies and girl-ish daydreams.
But then I stop myself and see where shame has crept in, and that shame is a dirty liar. I remind myself that just because I might not have meant something to the person I pine for, that they meant something to me, and our passion wasn’t fantasy. Sure I might have blown things up in my head. Sure my expectations might have been higher than the sky. But one thing I know to be true: it was real. It was hot flesh and blood, hearts beating out of our chests, fire when we were within each other’s reach, heat between our bodies. We weren’t playing make believe when lay in each other’s arms and kissed each other softly. We weren’t dreaming when we lay awake in the early morning, nuzzled in the cleft of each other’s bodies.
And just because we didn’t exchange “I love yous” doesn’t make what we had any less true.
Sure I had dreams of us, dreams bigger than what little reality had given. Sure I wanted more than what was. But again, our time together wasn’t make believe. And I should be allowed to mourn, even if the world says there’s nothing there to cry over. I should be allowed to be sad about something and someone that made me happy. I should be able to lament the fact that I lost something I felt was special, even if I never really held it.
So don’t let shame tell you the same lie. That you’re silly, foolish, needing a reality check. For the ones who live in their own heads, for the ones who feel deeply and see farther into the soul than others, it’s okay to take your time getting over someone who never really made it from passing through to permanent. It’s okay to talk about them like they meant something to you. Because they did mean something. They did have an impact on your life, and they did make your heart soar, even if it was short-lived, even if the relationship never really took flight. It was something real, even if it didn’t materialize into what you had hoped for or envisioned, even if commitment never came. You have just as much of a right to grieve over losing someone who was just passing through as the person coming out of a long-term relationship. Just because they didn’t stay, doesn’t mean they didn’t matter. Don’t ever let anyone ever tell you that something or someone that moved you doesn’t matter. Take your time and know the world is more beautiful for your hope-filled mind, for your capacity for feeling deeply, and to dream for expectations bigger than reality. Because one day those dreams won’t stay stuck in your head. One day you’ll meet that person who will stay, and who will make all your wildest fantasies seem small. One day you won’t have to grieve another loss, because one day you’ll find someone who will love you for all of your grandiose, universe-shifting dreams. One day someone will walk into your life who will be the real, tangible, flesh-and-blood-and-sweat-and-tears person who will blow your mind and seem like they’ve stepped right out of your head, off the page, and into your world. Someday, your fairy-tale, make-believe, hopes-and-dreams-and-even more will come true. Don’t ever let anyone, especially yourself, tell you to think any different, feel any less. Feel all that you have to feel to heal, express all that you must, and never stop dreaming.