The more I wrestle with being in love, the more I realize I have no control. Like a moth to the flame, I am burned and I retreat, but it remains integral to what I am to be drawn to the light.
Last night, I was talking to a friend of mine, explaining my various neuroses, my fears and the illusions I had painted to explain the decisions I was – or wasn’t – making. What I wasn’t doing was living. I had believed I was living a thousand lives in my imagination of the future or alternate realities in which I had chosen differently. What I wasn’t doing was living my actual life. Somehow during our conversation, I remembered what it was like to love courageously. It was less like dancing around the flame out of fear and more like choosing to enter it.
During one skiing trip, I remember standing at the top of my first black diamond slope, the hardest category of routes. It swiftly disappeared into what seemed like a sheer cliff. I was terrified. But I convinced myself that the first few feet of the course didn’t look that bad. Even then, knowing what that first step would lead to, I had to acknowledge that I was doing something potentially suicidal.
Relationships scare me far more than any ski slope. The potential for pain, the questions that inevitably arise to pierce to the very heart of my identity (and my partner’s), have always kept me from any sort of relationship, really. In this, I am as cautious as my Chinese zodiac animal, the rabbit. In the past, I had only been in relationships in which I was chased, more or less. I have very little experience with, or inclination toward, chasing a romantic partner. But I’ve never felt so attracted to someone before, never so pulled to chase, regardless of the circumstances. Hence my conflict. I dash back and forth, afraid of uncertainty, but called to the flame. I guess in this metaphor, it’s crossing the road without being squashed flat by a passing truck.
This back and forth has been killing me. I did something that made logical sense at the time, according to what my brain said was the right and proper course of action. It made sense, and still does. But my heart has punished me unforgivingly for it. I’ve never been in this much pain for making a rational decision that I still agree with. Even now, it will catch up to me and force me to face my inadequacies, and in response I will just shut down and go to sleep.
But realizing my neuroses and remembering courage lets me move forward, even if it is into a less than perfect world. That’s the nature of the world, and of relationships. Remembering courage lets me take the next step, even if it is a painful one. I may be entering the flame, but it is a transformative flame, nonetheless. I will survive and become something else; I will not die in a stasis of a million different possibilities and alternative realities. I will open myself to reality and dance with fate, knowing that nothing is for certain. I must still live my life.
I must enter the flame.