Graphic by Jenna Kutcher
For a Saturday in October it was unusually warm and sunny. He asked me to come over and hang out. He has a huge terrace, and we could sit outside. There was nothing else that I wanted to do. But I was shooting a NYC society wedding in Central Park that was going to take up at least the next 15 hours of my day. We texted back and forth a throughout the day, but I was pretty distracted with shooting.
It was now Monday night, and I hadn’t heard from him since.
“It’s probably over,” I told my friend.
I was pouting on her bed as she was putting laundry away.
She gave me this look like you have got to be kidding me.
“What,” I said, “I haven’t heard from him since Saturday. He’s probably just over it.” Over this [Over me is what I really meant.]
She asked me if I missed him.
Do you want to see him?
Then why don’t you call him?
Because I can’t.
That’s not an answer.
You’re not an answer. (Yep you don’t have to tell me that’s a good comeback. I already know).
I wanted him to want to hang out with me. I wanted him to think of me, miss me, call me. Didn’t he know that? Couldn’t he jedi-mind trick me and read my thoughts?
Every time we’ve talked or gone out he has initiated it.
She pointed out though, “Don’t you think he wants you to call him every once in a while?”
But guys are supposed to call. Make the move. That’s how relationships are supposed to look aren’t they? That’s how pursuit looks right?
And this is when it came about that (thank you Rob Bell for the analogy). It wasn’t really even about him, or hearing from him; it was about something deeper.
It was about my attachment to how I thought it should look. It was my attachment to feeling safe.
I felt safe in responding to him. There was hardly any risk involved in that for me because at least I knew in those moments he wanted me. He liked me, and my guarded heart only wanted him to know I felt the same way if I knew it would be reciprocated.
Me telling him I wanted to see him left me completely exposed. It would open me up to rejection.
What if he didn’t want me?
What if I wanted him more than he wanted me?
What would that say about me?
I was terrified of putting myself out there, because I was terrified of getting hurt.
CS Lewis put it like this:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that basket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable…to love is to be vulnerable.
Still lying on her bed my friend asked what did I really have to lose?
With little hesitation I responded: Control.
Control had kept me safe from heartbreak for a long time, but in this moment I started to see that it had also ostracized me from love too.
If I chose to let go, and let another person see me and know me, then I opened myself to possibility.
The possibility of love, beauty, intimacy.
The possibility of heartache, disappointment, rejection.
And again I found myself in a space where it was about him, but it was not about him at all.
I saw those questions and instead of judging myself decided to have compassion for myself. Underneath those questions was a deeper question: Am I worth it? And if I believe that God is who He says he is and that he created me in His image, then no person can define my worth. My worth comes from God. So in essence I am free to expose my heart to another because their acceptance or rejection of me doesn’t change who I am and what I am worth.(A truth much easier to talk about than to actually walk out in life).
I’ve been so scared of pain that I’ve shut myself off to feeling anything with a man.
Up until now.
This does not get to be my story anymore. Now I get an opportunity to make a different choice.
Love is an invitation we receive each moment, every day to choose. To serve another person, to put their needs first, to listen, to be open, to be patient, to respond instead of react, to speak life and hope and honesty and truth. Love is to take a step towards another person when I don’t know what their response is going to be. In all of it the invitation is there, yet the choice is mine to make.
And it’s scary, and it’s risky, and it’s much safer to talk about doing than actually doing. It’s easier for me to just say ‘oh for him it’s probably over’ as opposed for fighting for time with him or just simply putting myself out there to say I miss you. I want to see you.
And yes I want to be pursued and fought for by a man. Gosh I want that. What woman doesn’t?
But love isn’t one sided. It’s a journey you take hand in hand with another person. Step by step together. Each step forward is a step into the unknown. You don’t know how it’s going to work out or if it’s going to last. The lie is that It’s just vulnerable for me. Only I could get hurt. No, we both can.
Love is worth it. It has to be.
As my sweet and oh so patient friend shoved me out the door later that night she pointed her sassy finger in my face and told me to call him.
On my way home I made a decision to let my guard down with him. To let go of what may or may not happen. If I am rejected it will hurt, but it won’t ruin me. We are quite resilient beings. I decided I was going to join him on the journey. Make steps towards towards him and towards the unknown too, and I was so scared.
I picked up my phone and we talked. Timidly I said I missed him, and I wanted to see him, and asked can we see each other tomorrow. He said of course, and he couldn’t wait to see me.
The next night we met at Union Square to go to drinks.
There were people blurring all around us, rushing to make the next L train, hailing cabs, carrying yoga mats and grocery bags, but I stood there and on the inside felt peaceful and sure.
Not sure of the outcome, or what would come of us, but sure that I was ready to let myself be seen and known. Something I hadn’t done in years.
As he walked up and kissed me on the cheek it was almost physical.
I could feel my walls come down.
So it was about hearing from him, but it wasn’t even about that.
It was about me telling him I missed him, and yet it wasn’t so much about that.
And it was about grabbing drinks in-between meetings on a Tuesday night, but really it was about so much more.