I will happily address your valid (and quite expected) question “WTF?” in a moment. But first, let’s talk about what’s going on with you.
I know you’ve been struggling, but more than anything right now I see you advocating and fighting for yourself in the way that only Nora does and it’s beautiful and I’m proud of you. I was so, so sorry to hear about you and Cory cutting off contact. What I heard in your previous letter before this last one was–you’re still in love with her, but it feels insurmountable–the timing is off, the geography is off, you’re not confident she would be “all in”, even if given the opportunity, and likewise you’re wary of planning your life around her in any way–although you are tempted to. But the result of all this is you feel unhappy, frustrated, distant and constantly missing her, all the while unable to fall out of love with her. Up until now, that is a lot of things outside of your control. And that blows. So then, the part that is within your control is what you ask of her and expect for yourself… Nora you asked for something really reasonable from her that would help you maintain your quality of life equation with her.*
*I have a general theory that every type of relationship either adds to our quality of life, subtracts from it, or has no noticeable impact–romantic relationships should average out to “add” because those are relationships we choose with free will…and why the fuck would we stay in something voluntary that was just subtracting from our quality of life??
You’re not asking her to move. You’re not asking her to make big decisions in her life based on your future plans. You’re not asking to be her girlfriend or be exclusive or even date you. You’re asking for minimum investment, just on a friendship level, from her emotionally. You’re asking to stay connected. I have no doubt that medical school is a bitch, and makes any form of relationship maintenance a challenge, but if someone is a priority to you, they’re a priority. Period. If she literally cannot give even that much to you (or anyone) at this time… and your heart is hanging in limbo hoping for scraps… I think you are doing the best thing for yourself Nora.
I don’t think that snap you felt was “maybe I am done being open and caring and I am ready to be a bitch” at all. I think those were your instincts of self-protection and self-advocacy kicking in.
You KNOW you deserve someone who is going to be able to give you more than Cory can or will offer you right now. You know it. I know it. Anyone reading this knows it. I know I’ve said this before, but it really is true… sometimes being in love is not enough. And it has nothing to do with her not being a wonderful human being. She seems lovely. But the fact is she is unwilling or unable to offer you what you need from her right now. I know you are devastated. I have no doubt that being in NYC and not seeing her was extremely difficult (I won’t judge you if you caved…). But also, hold on to that pride and empowerment you felt. I hope you were much too distracted with the wonderfulness of being back in that place you love, surrounded by your dear family and friends and having your soul fed, to care.
I’m playing catch-up on two letters here, so forgive the length! I want to talk about the trust thing you brought up. You say that ever since Trace, you can’t trust anyone. You say you were left hardened by them. Holy shit–that’s a lot of power to give that person!
Trust has been the name of the game for me over the past year. Over the past two years, for that matter. I’ve come to accept that trust is essentially two things: a gut check, and a choice. Trust yourself, Nora. Knowing what I know of you… I have little doubt that you knew what was up with Trace all along. I would bet on it. You’re mad at yourself for falling hard anyway. I would encourage you to be proud that a) your gut knew the truth, and b) you have the ability to fall for someone. Give yourself grace for letting it go on longer than it should have. And DO NOT give Trace that power–the power to harden you and change you in a way you do not want to change.
Healing is work, yes. But also, healing is taking a break. Healing is rest. Healing is new days and nourishment and knitting and Toby and nights filled with new dreams. You decide what parts to take away from your experiences. Yes, there are bruises. But those will heal with time. Focus on the parts you want to take with you.
And sometimes there are almost no parts worth taking and that is ok too.
In the end I think time washes it all back to sea, so just rescue the parts worth bringing along, and release the slimy and stinging creatures back into the ocean of “things that have happened that I choose to no longer have matter”. Trace used you? They failed to love you well, even when you poured out yourself to them? That’s on them. Let them float away into the darkness of the depths of their chosen currents. Love withheld is love wasted–that is cowardly. Love given is never wasted–it is brave. Even if it is not received as it deserves to be received. You loved someone who didn’t deserve what you gave them. Love is not a limited resource Nora. In fact, I think the more we exercise our muscles and learn to love others well, the more we have to give.
Never regret loving someone. You grew your heart in that exercise. They shrank theirs by never letting it fill up with a love of you. You were brave. Loving is always the terrifying and bravest choice.
As you continue to heal and reaffirm your gut instincts, and choose eventually to follow love again, trust will sprout up again too. Love can’t thrive without trust growing alongside it.
Ok, so while we’re on the topic of love being terrifying and following our instincts… here’s an update on me and Lily.
By every calculation I should feel extremely hesitant going into this. But the strangest part of it all (even as I say “what the fuck” to myself), is how not strange it feels. It is such a balance of excitement and peace. Somehow both new and yet familiar as home.
I feel so much myself, my best self with her. I don’t feel like any parts of me are hidden or pinched or shoved aside or shut down. I’m not trying to put on any pretenses. It feels so good! I didn’t know a relationship could fit me so well. It’s like trying on an outfit in the fitting room and just being like “damn girl”… I like how I look in this. How I look to myself.
The importance of that is, I’m not losing myself. I still see me, I still hear my own voice. I am continuing to go to therapy. I am continuing to seek balance in how I take time for myself vs. how I spend it on others. Those things won’t stop being my tasks any time soon. I still want a cat. I’m still paying off my debt. Life in general is pretty much as it was, only now she’s around for it too. Quality of life–elevated! My primary relationship is with ME. I’m not seeking anyone to fill my gaps–I fill them myself. Yes, she complements me in some ways (thank god for her sense of direction–I have none), but ultimately I am just happy to have someone I can be my whole self around, who isn’t threatened by me loving myself and being content with myself. Not only that, but she appreciates and loves that about me!
I believe she is quite a rare find Nora. She is humble and compassionate, honest and brave. She approaches life with the same type of positive attitude as me, and has a bright, natural type of joy in her. She loves hard. She works hard. She is playful, and finds beauty and humor in the day to day. She is patient, and steady and always seeking balance. She loves adventure, and her cat, and pays her bills and buys groceries. She cooks, and loves food (we cook together and I love it). She treats me so well. She gets me, and sees my worth, and thinks I’m special and awesome and is supportive and kind to me. She rolls me over gently when I’m snoring in her ear at night. We laugh so hard together sometimes I start gasping for air. And she isn’t embarrassed of me when I start crying into my soup at Panera after a hard day.
I know it’s fast, and I know how it looks and that there might very well be some people in my life who are judging me. But you know what? I don’t care. I truly do not. Not that I don’t value concern and care of friends and family. But ultimately, I’m the one who’s living my life. I’m the one who wakes up being me every morning and lives with my choices, and who knows the inside of this relationship.
And if I have peace and love and happiness in my soul falling asleep in her arms–then you better believe I’m going to be snuggled up in that spot. Life’s too damn short.
I’m not certain where this will go, but I am hopeful it’s going somewhere good. I know my worth, I know I’m a good thing, and I want someone who doesn’t just recognize that, but matches it. Based on what I’ve seen and gotten to know so far, I believe she does.
I love you and I hope you’ve come home from your trip with a renewed sense of self and hope! I want to hear about it!
P.S. I turn 30 in ten days. Holy crap! I’m going to Boston with Lily & a group of friends for a wedding and then to celebrate my birthday!
P.P.S. Please go find a cute girl to sleep with who is actually into women and who won’t get you pregnant.
P.P.P.S. I am reading Hannah Hart’s memoir “Buffering: Unshared tales of a Life Fully Loaded” right now and loving it so far (probably should throw out some trigger warnings for it… so far her memories from childhood have been rough, dealing with judgmental religion and mental health).