There was once upon a time that I believed in fairy tales. Even as an adult, there was this illusion of romance playing out the clichéd story arch. Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Girl falls for boy. Boy and girl live happily ever after. We never find out what life is like after happily ever after. I think what experience has taught me is that there is never a generic happily ever after, or even one at all. There are hard times, and on the occasion, there are gut-wrenching break-ups and heart-crushing realities. I hurt you, you hurt me, we never speak, and that is the new ever after. Everyone deserves second chances and new relationships. But what if the thought terrifies you so much you refuse to take that step. You sit and you make excuses to be mad, to be angry, to feel betrayed, to make sure that if there is anyone who is going get hurt, it’s the other person, not you, because when you reflect you realize the truth is that you could not survive the fall again. Maybe the person is worth it, but your fear is what leaves you standing on the precipice. The next question, the one that tangles my tongue and makes me sweat, is should I leap anyways?
There is no clear answer. There is no right or wrong one. When emotions become involved, the best you can hope for is someone who will catch you, or someone who will dive headlong with you. The reality, though, is that as we grow, each of us will experience a life-altering relationship. By the time we reach a certain age, there will be a certain shadow covering any possible romance. Doubt will creep into you and that genuine innocence of first love will no longer exist. It makes the falling that much tougher, because you have the bruises and the welts and the scars as proof that safe is better than sorry. Age, maturity, and common sense halt relationships before they can truly start because you quiver with fear at all the negative outcomes, and fail to realize the biggest truth: the potential is there for a wonderful, beautiful, and lovely outcome. You could find the one (if there is such a thing).
I was reading quotes the other day, a favorite pastime of mine, and found one that scared me. Well, several did, but this one scared me because the truth of it hit too close to home. It said there are some people we are destined to fall in love with, but never be with. It terrified me that future relationships would be as devastating as my previous one. To fall, so thoroughly, in love, and to have it come to nothing, to be crushed by the emotion, is a slow and painful torment. It truly had me questioning: is it worth it?
There is an unprecedented thrill in having a crush. However, when the crush starts becoming real, when you begin questioning if there is a future, I find it easier to turn the switch, to shut down and have those emotions come to a screeching stop. The common thought is that men are the ones afraid to move forward, they fear commitment and will do anything, cruel and soulless, to stop a relationship from moving towards those scary waters. If that’s true, then I am one of a handful of women in the boat with those men. The irony is that I am a hopeless romantic. The thought of a man and a woman meeting, catching eyes, holding the gaze a moment too long, and turning away is an image I always hold to. It’s one of those fantastic stories that all romantic comedies preach like the Gospel, and it’s one that women across the world pray to have. And deep within me there is a little girl still imagining that she will meet her Prince Charming in such a fashion. However, the more grown up, experienced, and therefore cynical, part of me is shoving her down and laughing à la Nelson from the Simpsons.
There is wisdom in life experience, but when does it become more than following good advice and begin being considered an irrational fear of love? Am I irrationally afraid of love? Once upon a time I believed in “once upon a time,” but it feels like those days are long gone. Even when engaged, I began to lose faith in the plotline. It seems, in retrospect, the ending became inevitable, and the twist of events were Kismet, much to the extreme pain of the main characters. But hindsight, that bitch, is always 20/20.