We read all these stories about karmic relationships, soul mates, finding the one, being yourself, loving who you are etc etc. Life seems like a rush for what’s right, under the dictatorial radar of what columns on sex and relationships say things should be like.
I digress. For half my life, I questioned what I’m doing wrong and burdened myself with lots of guilt, unreleased anger, cynicism, sarcasm and sadness. Those all lead to depression, anxiety and outbursts of painful neurosis.
I used to think it’s sexy to run after emotionally unavailable men. But then I discovered I felt much sexier when my romantic interest was calling me the object of their desire instead of pointing out to another woman as the love of their life.
The thing is, nothing will teach you how to deal with the pain of rejection, to move on or to let go. Buddhism won’t, advice from books, friends and therapists won’t, going on shopping sprees, watching Brene Brown, TEDX or running around the globe on Eat Pray Love holidays won’t.
It will hit you in a dull moment, probably when you’re having coffee on a fresh morning and you’re still very sleepy after last night’s party (yes, I still party, my 30s are here and I have only one life to live), when you’re doing dishes or when you’re talking to your ex lover and suddenly, the idealist painting you framed of him starts to fade out in front of what you have now.
What I have now? Well, I have a cliché. People like to say love happens when you least expect it. That’s a cliché, and clichés persist because they are truth.
After one year of running around from one country to another, the consuming thought I loved a person who did not even take the interest to meet me for a goodbye drink before I left for good – was still with me. Giving me headaches. Making me wonder if I’ll ever be free again. My life has been a row of breakups, affairs with emotionally unaffordable men (I like to compare them to expensive footwear) and addictions for bad boys.
I had moved to Berlin after spending my year in Spain, France and Holland. I felt, strangely, home, and even though I still thought about my crush every now and then, I had this feeling I was suddenly coming back to myself. I lost my sarcasm in the first week because in a place where you don’t feel judged or in a constant competition, you realize that’s futile. I also realized I’m no longer interested in dating. Sure, I dated for fun now and then, but there was nothing to keep me away from my work, my new life and my friends.
And then, something happened.
I met someone who never stopped talking to me. I met someone who wanted to see me, meet me, talk to me every day, and who also valued concepts like friendship between men and women, had a deep understanding of life and was more interested in the woman he was trying to please on an emotional and physical level, rather than on his own need to thrive and make a womanizing statement.
After I bailed out a couple times, addressing my need for freedom, my interest in being single, and my incapacity to be in a steady relationship, I realized something. Every time I tried to break loose, this new man gave me a different, new reason to not do it. To not leave again. To not hide again. To not lie to myself saying I am better off alone. To not resent my past for being involved in emotionally draining relationships and encounters half my life. This person was kind, and considerate. This person was gentle, and did not step inside my house and my heart with dirty boots, but instead allowed me to adjust to the idea that love can be good.
But good love is boring, I told myself, since there’s no passion, no tragedy, and no running in circles or chasing fool’s gold. Jung says women prefer to fall in love rather than think a situation through. Now I believe that’s true, because sometimes we prefer to lie to ourselves instead of accepting a reality that would be too hard to bear. And I preferred to find excuses for my crushes, and imagine they still loved me but didn’t take to it because they were shallow. And they probably were, because that’s another way of lying to ourselves.
I lived my life and relationships trying to learn and integrate and simulate in my own household what I saw in others. This never made me happy. But instead, after all these years, I understood we could only be happy when we are in harmony with ourselves. I haven’t managed to be at peace or at pace with all my shortcomings and endeavors, but I realized something much more important at the beginning of this year:
Life is short. I have a merely 40 years left to live. What do I want to do with them? Who do I want to be?
And the answer was brief: myself.
Coming back home made me face my old crush and sit him down at the same mental table with my current boyfriend. While the old crush was still charming and flirtatious, I then realized he was not at all considerate, kind or gentle, he did not have any intention to make a woman his whole world or have the least realistic idea of building a life together with another person. He was also not that much of a great sexual partner. My boyfriend, at the other end of the table, believed in me instead. He loved me in a way that could not compete with all the loves before, because it was simply so different and of such a density that it spanned way beyond what other people could offer.
And what’s most important, he didn’t have to be emotionally avoiding or a jerk to keep me interested. He gave me freedom, which is essential. He appreciated the things I did, and I was faced with reconsidering my beliefs in romance, love and identity. I decided this was not boring at all. I decided I was instead bored of running after lost boys in the bodies of early aged men because of too much tobacco and night life. I found power in my femininity, in my stubbornness to stick with what feels right, in the feeling of being loved and appreciated for all that I stand for. Maybe I started to finally love myself. There’s no recipe, that’s just what happened to me. Maybe with age, we fall into place with this decision. Because it’s only a matter of deciding how do you want to spend the rest of your life.
Ioana Cristina Casapu likes Brian Eno, airports and never says no to a good old Gin&Tonic.