To my Dear Friends, far and near:
I am writing to say thank you. Thank you for your love and support and concern and worry. Thank you for your friendship and your shoulders to cry on and your ears to bend. Thank you for the memories and the knowledge that you are also part of my future. Thank you for wanting all that is good and happy and easy for me.
I am indeed blessed to have you in my life.
(You knew there was a “but,” didn’t you? I thought so. You’re smart that way.)
But the thing is, this is my life. Not yours. Mine. I know you know this, but sometimes when we love someone, we tend to forget it. We get so wrapped up in our hopes and fears for this other person, that we forget that each of us has to walk our own path, and that ultimately we walk it alone, no matter how many loving people offer their help or companionship on the journey. Inevitably, we must make our own choices; ironically, even if we succumb to the influence of others, the choices are still ours alone and we alone are responsible for their consequences.
I know that all you want for me is to be happy and safe and at peace. And I want those things for me, too. But how I get there, and how you might want me to get there… well, those might be different paths.
I know that some of you are concerned about James. You have held me while I sobbed over him and listened to my heart break. You have propped me up and dusted off my ego and refused to allow me to fall completely apart over his past actions. And you are reluctant and frightened to see me travel that well-worn path again.
I understand that you would prefer that I put James behind me and find some nice, quiet, solid guy with whom to make a life that is drama-free and steady. I comprehend your hesitancy to accept that this time with him might be any different. I respect your fear that I am fooling myself and will suffer a humiliating and painful crash in the very near future.
I cannot convince you otherwise.
Nor will I try.
What I will say is this: I have never taken the easy road. That is not to say that I have not led a life blessed with many wonderful things, but simply that few of them came to me easily. In fact, when two paths were before me, I have mostly taken the more difficult one. And — go ahead, admit it — it is one of the things you love most about me, is it not?
You say that you admire my strength. Well, what strength is there in opting for the safe route, when one’s heart cries out for the riskier one? What strength is there in admitting defeat when you don’t really feel defeated?
You say that I inspire you. How inspired would you be were I to acknowledge that I love James with all my heart but was choosing to be “smart” and settle for someone I feel less for? Can you even imagine me doing such a thing?
You say that my life is interesting. What is interesting about it? The times that I played it safe and made the choices that others wanted for me? Or the times that I politely told everyone to take a flying leap and struck out in a direction on my own?
I don’t mean to belabor the point (or is it already too late?), but would you really want me any other way? Is not my choice to throw all my chips on the table with James not the epitome of everything that you value and love about me?
I know you’re scared. I am, too. But I’m still me. I’m still determined to have that Happily Ever After that I’ve believed in my whole life. And I want you there with me, amazed at the wonder of it all as it unfolds. I want to share the beauty of this with you and the authenticity of how damn hard it is some days. I want to know that I’ve been real and true to myself, and that you have shared that.
I cannot make you comfortable with my choices; no amount of reassurances would assuage your fears or discomfort. But I can ask you to remember what you love and admire and value most about me. Because I am exactly and entirely that person these days. I am true to exactly who I said I would be when I left my marriage 4 years ago and you cheered me on for my bravery to take that monumental risk.
The risks don’t stop. And I won’t start shying away from them now. No one is more acutely aware than me of how dreadfully painful it will be if James and I fall apart this time, but I can only tell you that I don’t see it happening. Beyond that, I can offer no guarantees. Neither can James. And neither can you. None of us has any way of knowing if we shall ultimately emerge a cautionary tale or one of those cute, old couples that no one can imagine not being together. I have my inkling, and you have yours, but none is more valid than the other.
So, I will continue to endure your qualified support for my happiness, your obvious expectation that our relationship will fall apart at any moment, your unwillingness to invest in us as a couple. I will do this because I truly love you, and I am truly grateful for your friendship and support, however limited it has become due to my decision to be with James.
I only hope that someday you will fully join me and James (and other members of my family and friends) in this new chapter of my life. I will be waiting and hoping. But in the meantime, I will continue to live my life according to my own instincts and sense of what is right and true for me in this moment.
And really, would you honestly expect or want anything different from me?