Love is Not Enough

love photo: love summertwenty11016.jpg

When I was young, I believed that once love came to my life, everything would fall into place. That whatever the trials it brought, whatever the lessons, love alone would be enough to sustain, a sort of glue that would bind two hearts in perpetuity.

He came into my life on a breath of wind from the desert. The first time we met I was so disoriented I got lost on my drive home. I described him to my friends as the most interesting man I had ever met, and qualified it with the statement that I would never date him. After all, he told me he was going back to Africa in 3 years, and when he spoke of his homeland, the love he felt for it filled all the spaces in the room. I was searching for a partner to share my life, so I decided he would be my friend. He decided the moment he looked at me that I was the love he had been waiting for. He texted me daily with morning greetings and evening good nights. It was strange that it didn’t irritate me. I thought it was kind of sweet. A few weeks after we met, I ran into him at a bar. I was with another man who I had just met. As soon as I saw him, all thoughts of being just a friend vanished. All I wanted was for the guy I was with to disappear (he did), so I could be with this most fascinating man. He is tall and strong, with quiet confidence. And when he put his arm around me that night I literally melted into him. When I kissed him I was completely lost. I don’t get overcome very easily, though I write about it in poetry, it’s always a feeling I want to experience, not one I AM experiencing. Yet here I was in the so desired state of bliss, with the comfort of those who have known each other for lifetimes. I felt like I was dating the most interesting man in town. Maybe even the whole state. Possibly the world.

I did what I do so often in relationships. I excused what I knew didn’t work for me, painted over it with all the parts that did work. I vowed never to date a smoker, a huge trigger for me from a childhood of watching my father die slowly, always with a cigarette in his hand. Here I was loving a man with a pack a day habit, listening to him tell me he was going to quit and believing in the strong mystique of his tribal fierceness that for him it would not be a problem.

I love to talk about life and emotions and what makes us the way we are. I love to extract the gems from the depths of our beings. Rabbit holes are my favorite hang out spot. Yet here I was loving a man who preferred not to speak at all, and when he did they were nostalgic stories. Fascinating stories, the stuff of dreams that were his formative years as a desert nomad. I clung to the moments of storytelling, living without any dialogue about our present states, who we were, who we wanted to be, what works for us. I dissolved into the exceptionally affectionate arms of a silent warrior. I felt protected. I felt like love was enough.

I believed that I was with a man who loved me as I was. Who never asked me to change. I felt guilt for all the things I wanted to change about him. I did ask for what I needed, and spoke candidly about what I wanted in the beginning. It was met with a firm ‘this is not who I am’. And I stayed, not honoring my needs, until I finally realized that while he did love me, it really wasn’t for me as I am. I chose to silence myself, until resentment built, until I no longer craved his embrace. When that moment happened I knew I could no longer explore the land of silence, it was time to talk about us.

The agony of anticipation wrecked my nervous system for a week. Delaying the inevitable until the timing was appropriate created a space for stories to be told, outcomes divined, nerves raw and stomach roiling in the unknown land of limbo. I did my best to center myself and finally believed I was okay with any outcome. I arrived at his house in a state of resolve, and none of the scenarios I played out beforehand were even close to the reality I encountered.

He too wanted to talk. For him, it is the inevitable leaving. Whether it’s because he is a desert dweller in a northern forest, or simply the nature of a nomad, we both know he is not happy living in my version of paradise. The desert he loves makes me sick with heat. The rain I love drowns his happiness.

As we talked and the layers of discontent were peeled away I found that the only thing left was the love we had for each other. I was somewhat surprised to discover my heart broken, shuddering tears as I left his arms. He asked me to stay, wanted me to stay, yet the feeling I had when he held me while I cried was the same solid strength and comfort of the beginning of our romance, and it burdened me with a torrent of grief. We resolved to be friends always, which mostly comforted but also left a residual ache. A wondering if we might get it right in the next lifetime. If we might arrive with what it takes to make love survive. For love alone is not enough.

About stephwithoutborders

I decided to sell (almost) everything I own and buy a plane ticket to South America. This is all about why and how, and what happens next.
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3 Responses to Love is Not Enough

  1. Sketchpacker says:

    Wow! Beautiful beautiful post and it rings somewhat true with what I am experiencing. I am in love with a man from the mekong delta. He is gorgeous, wonderful, interesting, funny, sexy, everything! But our live situations make love very hard – I want to go everywhere, and he can’t even if he wants to. Love is not enough, situation is everything

    • Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! Yes, situation, timing, all the things my mom used to say that I’d ignore 🙂 I’ve really gotten to where I am just thankful that I was gifted the love of a beautiful man, I will always have that feeling. I hope you cherish your love as well, whether you are together or not ❤

      • Sketchpacker says:

        Oh I will, he is a beautiful and wonderful man and we are both fighting to make it work – I guess we’re a bit different to you guys in that we love the same things. It’s just money! No worries, it was a great read 🙂

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