“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.“
-Paper Towns, John Green.
There is one person in my life of whom I’ve always had trouble letting go and I’ve spent countless hours trying to come up with a reason for why that is.
Our story is a complicated one, but the short version goes that this person and I were best friends who became somewhat romantically involved towards the end of high school. We didn’t have much time together after that as the universe seemed determined to find creative and heartrending ways to keep us apart. When we realised it couldn’t work out, we decided to return to being just friends, but I knew things would never be that black and white again (at least not on my part).
I never wanted anything complicated. The simple solution would have been to cut ties with him and move on as soon as I saw that things were getting messy, right? So why didn’t I? Why do I keep dancing around the cold ashes of the things we’ve long since lost?
The most obvious reason I can think of is that my happiest memories all carry traces of the very best parts of him. I’ve not had the easiest couple of years and I always find myself chasing those memories like wild butterflies on my darkest days.
You could call it a bad case of dwelling-on-the-past, but I think it’s more than that. After high school, life pulled the two of us apart – different cities, different lives, different downward spirals. However, it was in those moments, those moments of pain when we felt as if we might not be able to carry on; that’s when we were propping each other up by whichever feeble means we could muster.
We’d always been close before, but I think it was during that year that my love for him turned into a kind of dependency. When things were going well, we might’ve gone weeks without talking, but the minute things were going south, I would reach for him as if he were steering the last lifeboat away from a sinking ship. I didn’t realise that we were the sinking ship and I didn’t know how to swim.
The awful thing I did was turn this person I love into a container for all my feelings. I became dependent on him to give me a sense of calm and comfort. Even now, he’s the first person I want to turn to when things go wrong, but that’s unfair of me. He is his own person with problems of his own. He has no obligation to act as a buffer for my feelings whenever I feel that I need it. He is not some hero placed in my life to help me deal with my problems on a whim. I need to learn to deal with these things on my own. He won’t be around to catch me whenever life trips me up.
We’ve both now started new chapters in our lives. It finally seems as if things are looking up. We’re getting the chance to grow, but that also seems to mean that we’ll grow apart… I want to be okay with that. I think I really am starting to be okay with that.
Still, it’s tough learning to free fall without your safety net.