When I first met you, you weren’t the one.
You see, when I first found you—I hadn’t yet found myself.
I may not have realized it, but I wasn’t really looking for a man—I was the one I was actually looking for.
All my life I had been lonely—I’d been without myself. From time to time, I traded that in for being lonely with a man. But I could never find the love I was looking for in those men, because the love I was missing was my own.
With you, it was no different. How could it have been, when I was still the same me? But you did somehow get in deeper than anyone else who’d come before. I was not ready to have someone get in so deep. It was as though hidden parts of me, that were not ready to be excavated, were being ripped out from deep inside.
Your presence demanded all of me. I tried to meet you completely, but there were still so many unruly parts that I didn’t have a handle on—so many parts of me that I hadn’t befriended yet. Those parts were not my allies—they abandoned me. I abandoned me.
You suffered silently. When I could’t contain my loneliness and pain, they exploded all over you—I was hurting you.
I didn’t see it, but you were backing away slowly, and one day you just slipped out the back door. Gone, leaving behind a big, gaping hole in the spot where you had gotten in deeper than anyone else.
I felt more alone than ever after you left.
In the past, I’d always found something to fill the emptiness—a new lover, fancy new things, alcohol, a vacation. In fact, you, yourself had once been yet another way I filled the gap.
I’d never simply embraced the emptiness before.
Maybe I wanted to honor the loss of you, or maybe I just had no choice, but this time I did not grasp for something to numb the pain. I did not try to fill the empty space. Even if I’d tried, it’d have been no use. Nothing—not even you—could have filled it then. So I just let it be what it was.
At first it was a gaping wound, so sensitive that nothing could come near it. But over time, the wound began to heal, and the space just became spaciousness.
For once, I had room to let in grace, to experience sweetness in simple things and to feel so much empathy I thought I would burst—to float in catharsis. I was tender and raw—feeling my world more than I’d ever felt it before. Life was rich.
For once, I was not desperate to fill this big empty hole in me—and what happened when I left it open was amazing.
All my life I had always felt alone. My only company had been whatever loud, flashy thing I’d chosen to fill my emptiness. But for the first time, I was alone without all the noise. There was nothing else there to drown me out, and I could hear, feel and see myself for the first time.
More alone than ever before, I was no longer lonely. I finally realized, the one I had been looking for all along was me.
I felt more alive than ever before—I reveled in my joy and my pain, alike. I was grateful for the journey that had led me to that place.
I was grateful to you for you coming into my life, and I was just as grateful to you for leaving.
And then—right when I felt freedom from the need for you—you returned. And for the first time in my life, I got to feel what it was like to want someone, without needing them.
I had needed all the ones that came before because I hadn’t had myself—but it’s different with you.
I simply want you.
I chose you—and I continue to choose you every day, since.
And that is how I know you’re the one.
Author: Summer Engman
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Henri Pham/Unsplash