Bastet and I are no longer romantically involved. Heartache is an annual Dan Brodribb Christmas tradition it seems.
As was the case last year, I’m hurt and sad, but not as sad or hurt as I THINK I should be given the circumstances. I can’t decide if it’s denial, equanimity, or that I just don’t have the capacity to be as bothered by relationship-stuff as most people. Sometimes I wonder if the reason I put so much thought and effort into romantic relationships is to convince myself I actually want one…or at least get enough practice in that when the time is right, I can do it without screwing it up.
But that’s not entirely true either.
Because--at this moment, at least--I am still love in with Bastet. Which is doubly frustrating because I’m convinced that if I wasn’t in love with her, she would be my perfect relationship.
But that’s how Being In Love works for me. It makes me behave in ways I wouldn’t normally behave. It makes me want things I wouldn’t expect from other people. It makes me put on the other person. It makes me put pressure on myself.
On the flip side, it’s also kind of fun. It’s cool at parties and has a way of convincing you to attempt things you never dreamed possible…with surprising and delightful results.
But for me personally, I feel a distinction between loving someone and being in love with them.
Loving comes from your core. It’s something that isn’t quite thought, isn’t quite emotion, isn’t quite behaviour. It’s the place inside you where all those things meet and combine to form something stronger and wiser and more honest than the sum of its parts. Loving means making the decision to listen to that part of yourself even at times you don‘t particularly feel like it.
Being in love is different.
I don’t trust being in love. Being in love is something that happens to you. It makes you compromise values you normally wouldn’t. It comes on you at inconvenient times with inconvenient people. And it has a way of slipping out the back door when nobody’s looking, often at the times when you most need it.
Worse, Being In Love isn’t very loving. Right now, for example, the part of me that is In Love with Bastet feels like it has failed. It’s hurt and scared and angry and humiliated. And it doesn’t understand why the rest of me isn’t hurt and scared and angry and humiliated too.
So it’s pulling good memories from the past and parading them before my eyes: Look at what you had and screwed up! It’s searching for mistakes like a crime scene detective scouring carpet fibers. It’s screaming about injustice like a tabloid reporter. It’s showing me all the ways I fell short and haranguing me about what I should have done differently. It’s dredging up every fear and insecurity. At the same time it’s pointing out every flaw real or imagined it can find in Bastet, looking for reasons to be resentful or jealous or self-righteous.
It’s hitting me in all the places that hurt the most , asking me what my friends will think of me and what her friends will thinki of me, showing me imaginary slides of Bastet happy without me, having sex, falling in love. It’s connecting the dots between this and every other relationship, drawing me a picture of myself under the caption: The Guy Who Can’t Make Her Happy. It's coming up with clever, legitimate sounding reasons for me to call her and tell her That One Important Thing You Forgot To Mention.
As far as upsetting me goes, it’s doing a pretty good job.
But I’m not bothered by being upset and that’s what makes the In Love part angriest of all. Why aren’t you mad? Look at what she’s done to us! Look at what we’ve done to ourselves!
And here is my answer:
I’m not upset because I love her. I chose to love her and I choose to keep loving her. I also choose to keep loving myself.
Written down it doesn’t look like much. The In Love part of me doesn’t understand.
I don’t blame it. I don’t completely understand it myself.
Loving won‘t fix anything. It won‘t change an situation we both knew was unworkable. It doesn’t clear my confusion or lessen the heartache. It doesn’t make me a better person. It won’t change what she feels. Most of all, it won’t answer any of the questions that the In Love part keeps screaming at me.
But in my own way, I am at peace.
Because I can love.
I don’t know what I want and I don’t know what I’m feeling from moment to moment. I don’t know what will happen. But I don’t need to know those things. Love is stronger and wiser and more truthful than I am. All I need to do is to remember in each moment-even this one, which quite frankly, isn't one of my favorites as far as moments go--to make that decision to keep loving.
The In Love part of me can yell and scream all it wants, but I know now that it is lying to me. It isn't "in love." It doesn’t care about love at all. It claims to love Bastet, but it doesn’t give a shit about her or what is best for her. It doesn't even like ME all that much. All it cares about is feeling like it has won. And if it can’t have that, it will lash out, trying to make others or other parts of me hurt like it hurts in order to feel less powerless and alone.
Truthfully, it's not doing a half-bad job. I'd give it a solid B-minus. But I've suffered worse things.
And now I know how to love. Bastet opened a door in me I didn’t know was there. Somehow I found the courage to walk through it even not knowing what awaited on the other side.
I wish I could repay her. I wonder if she grew as much from me as I did from her. I hope somehow she got something she needed from me. But that's just one more thing I can never know, and ultimately, doesn't matter.
What Bastet gained from our time together is up to her. I have no control over it, and furthermore, it's not really my business.
Right now myself is my business.
So I make the decision keep loving. Not just Bastet. Not just myself.
But I also choose to love that In Love part of myself. I can’t fix it. I can’t make its pain go away. I couldn’t get rid of it if I wanted.
But I can love it.
So instead of pushing it away, each moment that it wakes screaming in me like a terminal patient or a child gripped by a nightmare, I sit quietly at bedside, take its hand, and wait for morning.