Originally published on elephant journal.
I want to do the right thing.
I would be willing to do anything to make this right if knew for sure it were the right thing.
I honestly don’t know who started this or which one of us owns a greater share of the blame. But I do know that neither of those things matter now. We both got hurt along the way. We both got scared. And now, sober and emptied from hours of tears, I want to be connected more than I want to be right.
I can see my mistakes. I want you to know I’m sorry. I want you to know that I see the harm I have caused. But I’m afraid to tell you that. I’m afraid that if I admit my mistakes, you’ll use them against me. I’m afraid you’ll think acknowledging my mistakes means you’re not responsible for acknowledging yours. I’m afraid of being the woman who lets you off the hook, the woman who settles for less than your best.
I want to be the woman who sees the quality of love we’re capable of cultivating, knows that it requires tremendous courage and believes so unwaveringly in your ability to show up for it that she accepts nothing less.
So I hold out. I push and push to make sure you hear my side of this, to make sure you understand what I’m asking of you. When I’m not sure that you’ve heard me, understood me, I hold back my love. I don’t let you have it until you’ve proven that you can be trusted with it.
And that just makes you dig your heels in—the same as me.
I think back to a time when we had only good will toward each other, a time when we were allies who would do anything for one another. A time when everything I did was beautiful to you somehow. I remember a time when you used to see my magic and I anguish over the loss. I wish that you’d see me that way again.
And then I wonder: Have you really stopped seeing me that way or have you only stopped showing it? Have you grown afraid to show it? Are you, like me, afraid that showing how much you love me, even when I’m not perfect, will mean you’re settling for less than my best?
I reflect that maybe we’re in the same boat because even though I love you as much as I ever have, I have stopped showing you the depths of it. I’ve retreated, too. And I imagine how that must hurt you.
Are you as heartbroken as I am? Are you, like me, waiting for proof that I can be trusted with your love?
The thought makes me want to soften. I know I have hurt you and now I see that I’m withholding my love on top of that. Never mind that I’ve been hurt, too. I have to wonder what would happen if I stopped waiting for you to change first. What would happen if I just threw all my cards on the table and tossed out my agenda.
What would happen if I loved you with no conditions?
What would happen if I stopped seeing you for what you’re not giving me and instead I decided to focus on giving you everything you asked for? What would happen if I was generous with my love, not to get something in return, but because I truly love loving you.
Would my unconditional love soften you? Would it free you? If I gave you everything you wanted, would you feel safe to offer me the same?
Even as I ask these questions, their importance wanes.
Yes, loving you that way would change me, and by way of changing me it would certainly change us. And, yes, that would be nice.
But I’ve decided that I don’t love you to change you. I love you just to love you