Sometimes relationships are comfortable like that old t-shirt that you stole from your college boyfriend. Other times they seem to be the embodiment of the loneliness you feel because you couldn't make someone else stay. We sometimes look for that euphoric moment that made us feel like life was worth living and other times we allow our relationships to parallel the chaos we see around us in the world.
The one thing the heart is not- is simple. And we all choose.
Two weeks ago my youngest brother and his girlfriend of a year+ broke up. I worried about him, remembering the heartache I felt when I broke up with my high school boyfriend. I waited until I saw him in person to ask him about it. His girlfriend was one of our favorites. It apparently ended because she needed space (valid, she just started college) but apparently my brother did a little "investigative work" (not so valid, but typical of all of us who feel an unwanted distance growing) and found out that she liked another guy. All of us know that feeling- it can feel like getting the wind punched out of you, or as you get older, it can feel like someone cutting through scar tissue. I sat there looking at him, wanting to blame her, but I couldn't. I know my brother is sad, but I also know that her liking someone does not mean she does not still care for my brother. She is just making a choice. We all have choices to make. Who we are with has very little to do with who we like – in the end, we just have to choose.
Some of our choices are based on avoiding past hurts, some choices we make for the benefit of others, and sometimes we just pick what is most comfortable. As I get older the more I believe in the power of choice. (I have only lived 23 years but within them I have experience great love and great sorrow). Choice.
I have had ten different men on five continents say they would like to marry me. I have had people confess love and promise me the stars. Some of those men saw only my skin but a few saw my soul and would have crawled to the heavens to bring me a star if they thought it would have brought a smile to my face. A few have traveled across oceans and sacrificed untold amounts to be at my door. But, at the end of the day there is always a choice to be made. I didn't make the choice to open the door and ask them to stay.
There are plenty of men who have made me smile, who have made a cup of coffee always seem too short. Some I have flown thousands of miles to see. I have written hours of letters. With a few I have shared my soul, my pillow, my time, my shoulder and my dreams. I learned about a few souls, their sadness and their hopes- and for a few I would have given up my fire to warm their hearts and to launch their secret dreams. I have stood on doorsteps in the cold too. But, at the end of the day there is always a choice to be made. They didn't make the choice to open the door and ask me to stay.
We all choose and usually one person walks away. Who can ever blame another for not loving them? We all choose, and sometimes we choose to walk away from the people we love the most. The heart is never simple. I often wish that all relationships felt like that first kiss with my first love combined with that comfortable space you share with someone in old t-shirts and Saturday morning papers.
But sometimes we can't choose, so we just run. We run until we realize we made a bad choice, sometimes we run and we run right into a bad choice someone else made. And other times we find ourselves lying in the arms of someone else who is choosing you, even though their heart is somewhere else. And sometimes you choose to stay there even though you know it's true. Sometimes choosing to stay where it hurts is the only choice we can bring ourselves to make.
And we all choose.