February 15, 2023

There is No Love without Letting Go.

My high school boyfriend and I had a ritual I used to love.

Each day when he would drop me off after school or on nights when he’d take me home after a date, he’d walk me to my door and give me a hug.

Sometimes the hugs were long and slow and a little sad, like we were already missing each other before he had even left. And sometimes the hugs were quick and impatient, mostly when we were fighting or if he was running late for work (usually because we were fighting).

But no matter what kind of day or night we were having and what kind of hug we both committed to, anytime his arms were around me, I always whispered four words into his ear:

“Two hands, real tight.” 

It was my way of bringing us into the moment. Of getting (and giving) a little extra love on a good day. And reminding us of that love on the bad days.

So many memories from that relationship have faded over time, but those four words have stayed with me, in part because they were a small but meaningful way to connect with this person I loved. But also because, I soon realized, these words were how I existed within relationships.

They were my relationship mantra.

“Two hands, real tight.”

I was, and still am in a lot of ways, someone who holds on in relationships.

I love hard. I get attached. I put in the work. I don’t want to let go.

Over the years, my need to hold on has been what’s kept me in relationships (and situationships) that I knew weren’t healthy for me with partners who didn’t want what I wanted, who didn’t know how to communicate honestly, who didn’t see what they had when they had me.

And although I never said these words out loud to anyone else, I thought them in my head through every broken relationship.

“Two hands, real tight.”

I longed for someone who would hold on to me with the same effort and energy that I showed them. I longed for someone who loved hard, who got attached, who put in the work—who didn’t want to let go.

But I was lucky enough to find something better, healthier. I was lucky enough to find a relationship (and a person) that taught me that love isn’t always about holding on tighter or grasping harder. That love isn’t about being so attached that you can’t tell where you end and this other person begins.

That there is no love without letting go.

And so each day, I make a vow to let go:

Of the sometimes-unfair expectations I place on my relationship.

Of my desire to change how my partner reacts in certain situations.

Of how I think our love should look or feel on any given day.

Of the fear I have about how the future will turn out.

Of the idea that we need to always be on the same page.

Of my discomfort in clearly explaining my wants and needs.

Of believing my partner can “fix” my feelings.

Of wishing that I could “fix” his. 

Of the trust issues that still hold me back all these years later.

Of worrying that I’m too demanding or maybe not demanding enough.

I still love hard and am committed to my partner and put in the work that a relationship requires, but I now know that some days love looks like two hands grasping tightly and other days love looks like two hands loosely entwined. And there are days still when love looks like one hand just lightly grazing another.

And on the really good days, love is a long, slow hug. When just for a moment, we hold on—two hands, real tight.


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