Simply Solo Spotlight: Before It Gets Pretty, Sometimes Its Gotta Get Really Ugly … A Love Story
Happy Simply Solo Spotlight Tuesday! Today’s guest post is brought to you by Ali Lawrence, a writer and writing coach. I love the story she shared today, and it’s a good reminder of how things usually work out for the best. When you are done reading and commenting, be sure to check out her blog!
Quick shameless plug: Do you have a story to tell? Advice to offer? Did you just have literally the worst date of your life and you must write about it? I’d love to have you as the next Simply Solo Spotlight! Contact me at: email@example.com.
Before It Gets Pretty, Sometimes Its Gotta Get Really Ugly … A Love Story
Did the dishes? Check
Daydreamed about having another life? Check
Went to work? Check
Got to school on time? Check
Broke off engagement? Crickets…
Programming note: I have been engaged twice…
Hi, my name is Ali and I am a hopeless romantic with a tough exterior. Boy crazy from day one, I have vivid memories of refusing to put anything over my “Wonder Woman” underoos to pre-school. I had a crush on a boy there and have always been pro-statement-making. By high school, I met the love of my life, but never having been one to do anything the easy way, it wasn’t until a few years ago that we made it official. We will be getting married next June, just over 21 years after that first look.
We met in detention our freshmen year, that’s a true story. We were fast and close friends with an occasional blurred line. With a twinning lust for adventure, I was definitely wild, and he was never one to turn his back on a little trouble. A big and confusing love that broke my silly little heart a million times over; our youth, the cosmos, and everything in-between happened, and we eventually parted ways as friends.
My twenties orbited at both a glacial and rapid pace. I was as much a cliché as I was a Martian; I moved to a big and pretty city, worked, went to graduate school, went out most nights, met someone, moved in, and then got engaged. Meanwhile, back on my home planet, my old friend disappeared into the tremendous loss of a loved one. When I heard the news, I wanted to drive to his house that minute. I didn’t. He was unreachable (and I tried), out of touch, gone. I never stopped thinking about him. Ever.
Six years went by, and one night I got a call from a girlfriend from high school that I was going to see later at a party. I was already out. She ran into him and told him I was engaged. She’s a full disclosure type and I immediately felt bad that he heard from her my news. I had been engaged for over a year with no plans to marry. She told me she had a letter from him for me.
I went to the bottom of my drink hoping to find the right way to feel. I wanted to be ready for the letter, and then my phone rang. His name came up on the screen. I wasn’t sure if I should answer. I did. He told me there was a letter on its way via our mutual friend. I told him I already knew that. He said, “You’re engaged.” I said, “I know.” We talked about what his life had been like over the past several years. His voice was like wearing your favorite shirt in another galaxy. I can’t explain, but I could hear him whisper in a cyclone. It’s always been that way.
When we said goodbye, I didn’t know what that meant. I went to the party where the letter was waiting for me. It had been carefully and lovingly written; he was OK, he was still healing, he said we would always be friends and that he loved me.
Another year went by and my fiancé and I had begun leading dangerously independent lives. When we were having fun it was rarely together. I would break up with him in my mind over and over again, but our lives were threaded together; it was easier to look away and remain status quo. I turned 30 and while I tried to convince myself of my age’s irrelevance, my time only felt more important.
“He is so funny and so smart, but I’m not in love with him,” played on a loop behind every other thought I tried to have. I would salivate over other couple’s break-ups. Everyone in my life was used to thinking of us as together; we lived together and worked together. On busy days I would rush from one thing to the next swearing that I was forgetting something. What was it? And then I’d sink and remember I wasn’t in love and I wanted to be, I was supposed to be, and I didn’t know what to do.
On the day we broke up, I felt like I had dropped off a ledge and was just falling and falling. Instead of hitting the ground with everything I had, I lost most of it: our friends, my things, our apartment, mail, work, and so on. Oh, and there was sadness. A lot. So much gets folded away at the end of a relationship, and eventually you realize how gone all of it is, and then, it’s nowhere.
It took time to piece some of what I lost back into some version of what it once was, and made it even better. When my old friend (future husband) and I reconnected, we were careful to figure out what our big love really was; and when we did, it was everything I had always wanted it to be. Yes, it was scary to slip off the edge into the unknown, but with that leap, I lost my fear of everything/anything and gained the kind of relationship, the kind of life, work, friendships and outlook that I couldn’t have wished up any prettier.
Don’t be fooled, it can be rugged, in or out of love. These days I have a quote on loop that keeps me present when I can’t see what lies ahead: “The journey is the reward.” And so it is, no matter how many times I’ve broken a nail (or heart / my heart) getting dirty along the way, it’s been worth every minute of it…
There was a long period in my life where I let things get tangled up, as they do along the way, and while they say the shortest distance between two points is a straight line – sometimes the straight part seems more like the world’s largest ball of string. I maintain that breaking off my engagement to be happy and not settle was one of the harder things I have had to do as a grown up. Aside from clearing the path to the life I actually wanted, I learned a lot about being clear in general. How much have you risked to just to see if you can untangle that knot, was it worth it in the end?
Copyright 2011. Simply Solo blog by Catherine Gryp. All Rights Reserved.