Letting go is scary as fuck. It’s also the only way to invite a healthy and loving reciprocal relationship in.
“So he stood in front of me…like inches away from my lips. He cocked his head to the right a little before closing his eyes…”
“Go on,” my best friend, Christina, nodded eagerly.
“He said,” I cleared my throat and took a dramatic pause, “I can’t imagine you not being in my life.”
Christina’s eyes grew as big as saucers. A smile spread across her face and her freckles seemed that much more prominent. The retelling of my encounter with Kurt serving as the sun that illuminates her skin on a hot summer day.
“That means something, right? Like…he wants to be with me?” I studied Christina’s face, hoping that her logical mind could help me decipher Kurt’s words. He was as difficult to unravel as Saturday’s New York Times crossword puzzle. He was an enigma wrapped in a riddle and stuffed in the analogies that stumped me on the SAT’s back in 1995.
I felt terrified to ask him a direct question about our non-relationship. I knew he’d run away, ignoring me on campus. Or he’d cover the chair beside him, where I often sat during our shared Communications course, with his bookbag and hoodie.
“Well, it seems like he wants to be with you,” Christina crossed her arms, still thinking, “he just can’t say it.”
I nodded, agreeing with Christina’s hypothesis because that’s what I wanted to believe. That Kurt desired me despite rotating women every semester.
Those words he uttered that day stayed with me for two years, they kept me trapped after every dismissal and each rejection. I remained steadfast, believing that he would eventually choose me. Until then, I would continue to analyze everything. The way he lowered his head and narrowed his eyes when he hit on another girl on campus. I didn’t have to hear him utter sweet nothings, I could just see it in his body language. How he stuffed his hands in his pockets and looked at the ground slightly, still managing to hold my gaze, when he said he cared about me and didn’t want to lose me.
Examining Kurt’s behavior became my second part-time, work study job. Like a sleuth, I calculated where I would stumble upon him on campus. I studied his routine and waited with baited breath outside of Barlett Hall to ensure another brief encounter. I perked up when I saw his black jeep parked in a handicap spot, thanks to him copping a pass illegally, hoping he’d offer me a ride back to Southwest. And when we finally engaged in conversation, I’d replay our dialogue in my head so I didn’t forget a nuance or expression before bringing it back to Christina for deconstruction.
This is how I dated all throughout college, even after Kurt graduated, and in my 20s. Trapped in a cycle of scrutinizing a potential romantic partner and lover despite my best efforts. Stuck in my head and overthinking every word choice and action, despite how anxious it all made me feel. Needing to feel that I had control over something because I couldn’t control a person’s behavior or feelings, but at least I could try to decipher what could potentially happen next. Believing that figuring it all out would lead me closer to the healthy, open, communicate, loving, and reciprocal relationship that I craved when, in reality, analyzing everything kept me in my head, hindering me from opening up emotionally.
Because letting go is scary as fuck. It’s also the only way to connect. Letting go is scary as fuck, but I still choose to stop playing games and unleash control.
At 44 years old, I no longer swallow my feelings. In fact, I am more in tune with my authentic self and more vulnerable than ever before. Gone are the days of analysis paralysis. I actively choose to feel and fantasize without expectation. And I talk myself down when Fear creeps in and urges me to shut down.
I let go. I flow. I live in the moment. And I analyze nothing.