“Here’s the thing. What you want is what you want, whether you admit it or not. And it’s going to affect how you move through the world. If you’re a human who wants something, who longs for something that’s true or right or that’s even maybe a little off center, it’s what you want. If you don’t admit it, it’s gonna come out in your body. It’s gonna come out in your posture, in your mood and your attitude, the way you treat other people. I think that we’ve clumped desire into one big ball of taboo. As we begin to parse it out in the presence of God, we can trust that He is smart enough and intuitive enough and strong enough and kind enough and compassionate enough to lead us in His way in His timing as we’re honest with Him and with ourselves.”
– Emily Freeman
Four months ago, I left the woman I thought was the love of my life for one reason:
We wanted different things.
I had a vision for my life and who I wanted to be that she could not accept. And I think she had a vision for her life that I couldn’t accept, either, though she tried hard to change in many of the same ways I did. And the thing is, there is nothing wrong with us wanting different things, it just made us wrong for each other. But it has taken me months to even begin to feel okay with that sacrifice, to even begin to feel like I haven’t made the biggest mistake of my life. Even now, I can close my eyes and feel her arms around me. Even now, I can see her smile. Even now, I can hear her voice–at times kind and at times mocking my desires, still making me feel as if I were wrong, somehow, to want the things I wanted. Not, I hope, from anger or spite, but just from the fact that our early experiences shaped us too differently, and she could never understand why I wanted the things I wanted. They made her angry. Resentful. Left her feeling hurt and uncared for. And if I’m honest, I felt the same about many of the things she wanted. It was a recipe for disaster from the start, but we wanted it to work so badly that we were both, in some ways, willing to give up pieces of ourselves to make it happen. I like to think that this is a testimony to how much we loved each other. But call it love or call it disfunction, in the end it took more than forty books, five therapists, and the fourteen months we were together and the four months since our breakup to finally recognize the truth of the quote above:
What you want is what you want.
Even if it’s crazy or weird or strange or seems absolutely, insanely stupid. Even if the most important people in your life criticize you for it. Even if it means leaving the person you love. Today, while searching for the quote above, I came across another one I had posted months ago, by Glennon Doyle:
“I understand now that no one else in the world knows what I should do. The experts don’t know, the ministers, the therapists, the magazines, the authors, my parents, my friends, they don’t know. Not even the folks who love me the most. Because no one has ever lived or will ever live this life I am attempting to live, with my gifts and challenges and past and people. Every life is an unprecedented experiment. This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been. There is no map. We are all pioneers.”
I have lived as a rule follower and people pleaser for most of my life and I can say that this is absolutely true: THERE IS NO MAP. My last relationship felt like the culmination of every single way I have ever tried to justify living my life according to someone else’s wishes, and it broke me into a million pieces. I loved this woman. I loved her desperately. I loved her more than I thought it was humanely possible TO love someone. And for fourteen months I fought with every ounce of me to deny the simple truth: No matter how much I loved her, I could not be who she needed me to be. Not because what she needed was wrong, but because it was wrong for me.
I have since found a wonderful therapist and amazing friends who have reminded me that there are people in the world who can and do understand. There is a whole tribe of people out there whose experiences and desires and life goals and ways of navigating the world are similar to mine. And I hope and pray my ex has found a whole tribe of people out there whose thoughts and beliefs align more closely align with hers. At the end of the day, is there anything more we can really ask for, than to be deeply and truly known by people who understand and support us?
I loved my ex. I love her still. And I know that she loved me. But at the end of the day, we both needed other people. I hope she finds hers. I’m starting to think I’ve already found mine. She’s sitting right here in front of a computer screen, listening to the chatter of eight little voices as she takes a break from school work to jot down a few thoughts. Maybe someday she’ll find someone to share this life with and maybe she won’t, but either way, she’s living in all the crazy, weird, adventurous ways she wants to live. And she’s finally, finally at peace.
“Here’s the stark truth about the person who is right for you: They want the same lifestyle that you do. How do I know this? Because that is, by definition, what makes them right for you. To be with someone whose eyes light up when yours do, whose heart races when your blood also pounds, who is enticed and inspired by the same forces that drive you forward, is a gift many of us never truly get to experience.
So how do we meet such a person? That’s simple – we do more of what we love. We give ourselves up to uncertainty, to searching, to pursuing what we want out of life without the certainty of having someone beside us while we do it. We throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the things that we love and we consequently attract the people who love what we love. Who value what we prioritize. Who appreciate all that we are. We throw ourselves into the heart of possibility instead of staying comfortably settled inside of certainty. Because we owe it to ourselves to do so. We owe it to ourselves to live the greatest life that we’re capable of living, even if that means that we have to be alone for a very long time.”