A love, regrettable but not regretted

I have a confession to make.

For eighteen months now, I’ve been lying to you. Okay, not really lying, just not telling you the whole truth. You’ve been reading about my mental health struggles, my family, my husband’s recently discovered autism, the difficulty handling everyday tasks, the stress and the chronic anxiety and the antidepressants.

But there was this one big thing that made life so much harder than it needed to be. I’ve hinted at it before, naming it The Boulder. Such an apt name, don’t you think? A rock you lug. Or can’t move. Or need to blast away in order to move forward. An obstacle. Something whose sheer volume can’t be overlooked. Something heavy. The parallels to the burden in my psyche are endless.

But I’ve reached the point where I can talk about this. Finally!

And I think you can relate with this one. You’ve been in love, right?

Yeah, it’s that unoriginal.

So, here goes: there’s this man I love. He’s not my husband.

(Yes, my husband reads this blog. Yes, he knows about that man. No, he doesn’t mind. Really, I promise you, he doesn’t. He’s weird that way. We both are. Yes, I love my husband. I’m still here, aren’t I?)

Where was I? Ah, that man. You might have noticed the present tense. I can’t put him in the past. I can’t say “I loved” him, although he’s very far away from me in every possible sense, not really present in my life anymore, and not really willing to be. But still: no past tense. Love doesn’t evaporate just because you haven’t seen someone in nearly a year. Love doesn’t care if said person causes you so much pain you want to physically vomit. Love doesn’t care about any contradiction, apparent or real.

In short, love is a huge asshole.

And it doesn’t like being neatly defined. So here I am, unable to put my love into a neatly tagged box. Sure, I loved that man. (How did that past tense slip in? I might as well leave it.) Was I in love with him?

(YES, my therapist will tell you. Don’t kid yourself, Frau Arka. You were head over heels in love. You were heartbroken when he left. We spent half a year talking about him in every single therapy session. You wanted to roll into a ball and disappear. You’re still talking about it, aren’t you?)

(Yes, my husband knows about all of this. We kinda live together. He wouldn’t miss me crying for weeks at a time, now would he? I told you. We’re weird.)

So, the answer, I regret to admit, is yes. Yes, I was in love. And he was my best friend for a while. And a bit of a teacher, in more ways than one might think. And a bit of a student. And partner in crime. All of this and more.

Was I any of these things to him? I have no clue.

The point is: today I can talk about this. Today, I am not ashamed. I had feelings. I have feelings. My feelings are valid.

This man didn’t want to be loved by me. At all. My feelings โ€“ which, let us savor it, I am not ashamed of anymore, not one tiny bit! โ€“ were a thorn in his side. A burden. He’d rather have the fun memories (we did have a lot of fun together, a good amount of burgers, a saturation of nearly-unreal sunsets, and a lot of music). But we don’t always get what we want in life, and boy, did he get a whole lot more than he bargained for. He got complications. He got the ultimate complication: me.

I am, indeed, a lot more than people bargain for. Take this any way you want. Ask my husband. I assure you, I am. I’m also a shy person’s nightmare: if you’re in my life, I’ll probably put you in a book, and you’ll surely appear in a blog post.

Why am I writing all of this?

The short answer is: because I can. And the fact that I can is glorious in itself. Two years ago, I’d have thought, “Who are you to dare have feelings for a younger, attractive man? You’re hideous and fat, and so beneath his league. Everyone is going to laugh at you. Everyone would ridicule you if they knew what you dared desire! You’re not worthy of having feelings!” But writing about this helps me realize this is only my self-deprecating internal monologue. Talking to my friends about it and receiving their reactions shatters the self-hatred. And putting it out into the world makes it real.

I’m here. I don’t loathe myself anymore. I can talk about this.

You, my dear reader, are my license to feel.

And I can only smile at how far I’ve come. The latest person I fell in love with is my not so humble self.