Love, Crèpes, & Self-Respect
As I sit here at a café on my last morning in Normandy enjoying a crèpe chocolat and deca au lait, I reflect on what I’ve learned over the past three weeks of silence. With only a week to go on the break in communication I requested with my beloved, both for his sake and my own, I’m getting ready to travel back to England five days earlier than originally planned.
Why am I returning early? Because I needed to. For me. I needed to take care of myself–learn to enjoy my own company again–instead of being a guest in someone else’s home. I’ve survived this heartbreak through the kindness and patience of friends. But now it’s my turn.
Taking care of my own needs first, for a damn change.
Along with my uncanny ability to give and receive love comes a deep capacity for empathy. Far too often I put the needs and feelings of those I love before my own. Friends and lovers, alike. It ultimately and always hurts me. Yet I tell myself that I would rather take on their pain than for them to feel it…because I love them. But when I take on their pain, I don’t take it away from them. Instead, we both hurt.
Relationships do require selflessness and sacrifice and compromise at times. No doubt. And, granted, one does not give in order to receive, by no means. However, if one gives and gives and gives of oneself with little or no reciprocity, one damages oneself as well as one’s relationship.
My clothes hang loosely on my body, as I’ve lost even more weight in my grief, but I’m okay. I always did have trouble losing weight, so it’s not that bad, albeit not all that healthy. Still, it enabled me to enjoy a few more delicious pain au chocolats and lots of cheese without worrying about my thighs too much. I even got a strawberry tart!
Do I still grieve the loss of a love?
Yes and no.
Yes, because the feeling of betrayal cuts deep. A betrayal of trust. A betrayal of the heart. Knowing I meant too little for him to try, to not give up.
No, because I have not given up. I still hold love in my heart. Now coming from a place of love and understanding, rather than a place of fear and anxiety, I can see that he felt trapped in the complexity of his life and our growing love somehow exacerbated that in his mind. He likely felt that cutting off his love would help ease some of his stress. I hope that after this time apart, he will feel more relaxed and at peace. Where he, too, can view the situation from a place of love and understanding, rather than a place of fear and anxiety.
Do I still love him?
But not desperately.
Do I need him in my life? No.
Do I want him in my life? Very much so.
I’ve learned so much in the past three weeks, mostly about myself. No doubt there is much more to learn from the safety of this last week of silence. And even more in my remaining four weeks in England, away from my main support back home. And, of course, even more as life continues on thereafter.
Where my beloved and I go after the end of this week is yet to be seen.
But I’ve learned that although it feels wonderful to be desired and loved and cherished, self-respect feels even better.
I deserve respect.
I deserve reciprocity.
I deserve honesty.
I deserve integrity.
I deserve accountability.
From him, of course. From others, sure. But mostly from myself.
And now. I demand it.
Perhaps the greatest thing I’ve learned is that although I may be forced to let go of the love he feels for me, I do not have to let go of the love I feel for him.
I do not have to deny it.
I do not have to hide it.
I do not have to stifle it.
I do not have to smother it painfully into oblivion.
I feel love, and it feels wonderful.