This post is part of the Choosing Vulnerability series. Read more about it here.
When I was solo traveling in Costa Rica I spent a couple days with a guy I met at a bar. An architect. A weakness of mine. A man with ideas to better the world, to create beauty with his hands. He cooked me breakfast and gave me surf lessons. He didn’t ask my age until just before I walked out the door. I told him to guess. I was 23 at the time. When I asked him how he guessed correctly he said, “Your eyes haven’t lost that sparkle yet.”
Three years later on my 26th birthday, I felt strong, but a little broken. I remember my conversation in Costa Rica with the architect and how he said that life beats you down and hardens you. I keep thinking how I’m not ready for that yet. I don’t want my heart to harden. I don’t want to grow cold to life. I look back on the past 6 months or so, and while there has been so much goodness, there has been heartache as well. Most of which involves being disrespected by men. The two most painful cases happened at the beginning and end of summer.
For a long time I’ve dived into connections with people with the full knowledge that they could leave at any moment and so could I, that life is fleeting, that everything is temporary. I’ve opened my heart as wide as it could possibly open because I’ve wanted to experience love even if it meant suffering. Love in the moment. Bathing in the rays of tenderness. Authenticity. I live for moments like that. But after the pain of my interactions lately, I’ve felt unsure. I don’t want to prevent myself from living in the moment or to be closed off. I want to remain open to life and all the possibilities it brings. Yet more than ever I feel the need to look out for myself.
When I first moved to Asheville I connected with a guy who quickly told me he was polyamorous (“respectfully” involved in multiple partnerships). I was interested in exploring polyamory, and I really liked the guy so I wanted to keep getting to know him. Ultimately he ended up disrespecting me. I felt the sting for a long time after. I really liked him. I was bummed but better off.
Meanwhile I had been casually involved with someone I worked with. We had been working together for the last four summers and had grown closer every summer. This summer we grew closer, and he even talked about moving to Asheville. He told me he loved me.
In the beginning of the work season I clicked with a new girl at work. We talked all the time and were planning on moving in together in Asheville. She knew the whole story about the guy and I. She was my go-to girl about everything. They were sleeping together behind my back. She only told me because it hurt her to see us together.
When I confronted him, he didn’t think it was disrespectful. He said he loved me and sex with her was just sex. “They are different to me,” he said. I felt extremely disrespected by the both of them. I felt abandoned by people who were closest to me. I trusted her and confined in her, and she threw it all in my face. When I met her I was so excited to develop a close friendship. Then I felt completely betrayed. That whole situation broke my heart and made me re-evaluate what I want out of friendships and relationships.
On my 26th birthday I wrote:
26 is hiking mountains in dresses and boots: finding a balance between fierceness and strength while humbly asking for grace.
26 is trusting in the magic and mystery around every corner and across every river.
26 is acknowledging that things don’t work out so better things can fall into place.
26 is honoring the friends and lovers who are worth my time, effort and love and letting go of the ones who are not.
26 is remaining open-minded and open-hearted to this magical mystery of life, love and friendship no matter how raw, hurtful and intense things get.26 is honoring the friends and lovers who are worth my time, effort and love and letting go of the ones who are not.
I want to post this today, December 31, 2014, so I can cut ties with the people in this post, the ones who have hurt me this year. So I can cut ties with the pain of those interactions and move forward into the new year with space and light in my heart. I have already grown a lot, and I want to keep moving forward with a lightness in my eyes and openness in my heart. I want to acknowledge my pain but not let it negatively affect me anymore and not carry it with me into 2015.