unsplash-logoThought Catalog

I sent an email, typed from my phone. I had just left his apartment, it was a cold, brisk morning and I wasn’t dressed properly to be out and about having come over the night before. There was no drama that morning, but the night before – all the issues surrounding our non-relationship came to a head. I didn’t let him see me cry, but I told him in the email that I knew he liked me, just not enough to actually want to be my boyfriend.

That was a hard realization, especially after he spoke about wanting a girlfriend, wanting a relationship, wanting children…wanting all these things with every girl he’s ever dated and even his ex-wife and yet, just not with me. Me. I was the deciding factor and it was hard not to take it personally.

I met TK shortly after my long-term relationship ended and my best friend told me, “you’re never NOT in a relationship. The next one you see you’ll end up falling for.” I said she was full of it, this time, I was going to be my own Destiny’s Child and sing my own version of Independent Woman. I added every dating app I could stomach and set up so many dates, I couldn’t keep the days straight. At one point I started mixing people’s names up and I knew it was getting all out of control. And I loved it.

In the middle of all that, I met TK, and from the beginning, he was aloof, different, sexy, mysterious, damaged and oh so perfect for a fixer like me. I mean, this is literally what I do…every…single…time. Fix shit. Everyone’s else shit except my own apparently. So when he didn’t call or text, but then would show up with literally a novel’s worth of text messages – of course, I’d jump at the chance to hang out. Then we’d spend days curled up together, debating politics, learning new recipes and finding new shows to binge on Netflix.

Conversations were always easy and he was opinionated but smart, so they were challenging and insightful as well. Days turned into months and I told myself I didn’t want a boyfriend, I needed to be alone, and that this was casual. I was being casual because I would prove my friend wrong! I could date and not get caught up, couldn’t I? And that’s when it happened, when all of these new experiences with him, sleeping with him regularly, telling him all my secrets, and realizing he’s handsome both with and without a beard caught up with me and I fell, hard and fast.

I want to be with you, really be together“, I said one night as we sat together on the couch. He was quiet. He didn’t look at me, he just stared at the ceiling, sighing. I got up and went into the bedroom, taking my phone with me, ready to google, “How to make him want you” or some other cosmopolitan crap. He followed me shortly after and still didn’t say a word, but curled up next to me and like an idiot, even though nothing had been resolved, I curled up right back and we fell into our old patterns once more.

When I tried to broach the subject a few more times he was cagey. He wouldn’t say no, but he wouldn’t say yes and I could never figure out what was going on in that beautiful head of his, but there was always a small voice in the back of my mind that said, “He’s the one you desire, but not the one you deserve.

On the morning I left, I knew this would be the last time I saw him and it hurt. I had to hold back tears and when I looked at him, he gave me a sleepy smile, unaware of the email that would be coming his way. I had to choose me, even though I didn’t want too. He was no saint, I was well aware of all the issues he had, but I had issues too and I thought, naively, we could make each other stronger. Perhaps we might’ve, but the fact is, he just didn’t want that. Whatever journey he was on, didn’t include me.

I’ll never know what prevented us from being together because he never responded to my email (and I made sure it was coming from a place of love and support and that I would leave the door open for friendship because I honestly did and still do care about him as a person). Maybe he was never really over his ex and I was a distraction? I gave him so many opportunities to speak with me, share his truth, and just tell me something. Anything Really.

What I’ve learned from this though has really helped me see that I’m stronger than I thought I was. I know that…

I cannot control other people. I cannot force them to give me answers nor can I manipulate them into feeling something they cannot. Dwelling on the “why” does no one any good so I have to just make peace and move on.

I can choose to feel empty or fulfilled – my own happiness is determined by me. It’s rare for me to be without a partner, but I’m starting to see all the little, beautiful ways others have filled my life with light.

I must seek balance, giving as much as I’m taking. I’m a fixer and I tend to give more than I take and then feel resentful about it. Communicating and being more open to my own needs should be a priority.

I love myself through other people. That old adage, “You can’t love someone until you learn to love yourself” just doesn’t hold weight for me. I love myself and I find joy in loving others. In helping others. In being part of a team and working with others for the greater good. In raising someone else up, I find that I end up elevating myself. I just can’t give up on love and I won’t fall into the trap that I need to make myself “better”. I am worthy enough, this was just the wrong person for me.

I choose the narrative of my own life. I can rewrite my memories, replacing the days I cried & the nights I tried to hold onto him with positive thoughts. I look back and I’ve changed the outcome of those moments. Instead, I see myself smiling and see us curled up in one another’s arms. I am replacing the pain with joy so when I hear his name, I feel lighter. This doesn’t mean I forget, oh no, I know we’ll never be together, but I am choosing to write my own story with a happy ending.

The ending where we spent time together, I grew into a better person, my life afforded me opportunities and experiences I never thought I’d have and I moved on, in joy and happiness – wishing the same for him.

It only took me being with a guy who wouldn’t commit for me to realize that I do love myself and I do respect myself and I can stop doing something that causes me pain.

This might have been the toughest lesson for me to learn.

Featured Photo by William White on Unsplash