There will always be that one person who we feel like we were in a relationship with when we actually weren’t.
Well, at least this is my experience – and I would be willing to bet that there are a lot of people out there who feel inexplicably connected to this one specific person that they never even dated. This is definitely something that Reena of Katie Cotugno’s novel How To Love would attest to. Her feelings for Sawyer LeGrande (who she does end up dating) are so strong and vivid that she says early in the novel that:
“he would’ve taken the guts of me with him even if we’d never been a couple at all.” – How To Love, Katie Cotugno
Why is this, I wonder?! Why is it the case that sometimes the heart latches onto a person, onto an emotional relationship with said person, that isn’t even real, that’s entirely fabricated and imaginary? Is it the heart’s tendency to create relationships where there are none? If someone is alone for long enough, does the heart combat this loneliness by tricking itself, by pretending its love is reciprocated? Is this the heart’s most dire (and perhaps pitiful) coping mechanism?
I was “alone” for 22 years of my life. I use quotations because no one is ever truly alone, but I admit that in moments of being perpetually single, it certainly feels like no one else can understand or sympathize and as though finding a significant other is a battle no one can assist with. In my 22 years being boyfriend-less, I definitely developed strong attachments to guys, and I would say that my very green and inexperienced heart struggled to accept that I wasn’t in an actual relationship with certain of these guys. Feelings are tricky things – they can totally sneak up on you, and they can kind of get out of your control a little. Before you know it, you desperately feel like this guy is your boyfriend, and you’re jealous of every girl he talks to at school and you want to know where he is at every moment and all you want to be doing is spending every night talking to him when in reality you’ve barely exchanged two words with him in weeks. It all seems a bit pathetic, I admit, but it somehow seems unavoidable too. Obviously I’m not delusional and I know I never dated such-and-such guy…but my heart was pretty well convinced there for a few years, if I’m honest, that there was something relationship-y between us…and losing him, realizing that I may never see him again, felt just as violent as breaking up and saying Goodbye to a great love.
Now, lucky for me (and believe me, I do know just how lucky I am every single day), I have a boyfriend now, so my heart is able to put things in perspective and now knows what real, reciprocated love is. But sometimes in my quieter moments, sitting at home on a Sunday when nobody else is awake, when my miraculous boyfriend is already at work and lost to me for the entire day, my mind wanders a little and it’s easy to revert back to the girl I once was. It’s easy to replay every embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me romantically, and it’s easy to dwell on past not-quite-relationships and feel very relationship-esque pain. There’s a remarkable perspective to it, naturally, knowing that I’m now in a relationship that I expect to last a lifetime…but that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes fall back into thinking of certain guys as though they were boyfriends who treated me poorly, as though our connection was much MUCH more significant than it really was.
But, I think at some point, this line of thinking has to stop. At some point, it’s time to just let go of the ghosts of the past. Reena of How To Love is in the midst of that struggle: loving a man she has a history with, but also wanting to start a new life, free of him. The novel is really enjoyable and I know I’m going to have lots to say about how passionately it’s written and how heartfelt and genuine and honest the characters are. Some of the lines are just so poignant and true, like the one I quoted above, and like this one, when Reena decides that Sawyer doesn’t necessarily hold any true power over her and feels:
“locks on cages springing free.” – How To Love, Katie Cotugno
Because, yes, True Love is a beautiful thing, and something I wouldn’t trade for the world. But Imaginary Love, Figment of your Heart’s Obsessive Yearnings Love can be utterly constraining and crippling, and it can be absolutely impossible to move on from. And that sort of False Love can hold a person back…from living in the real world and from finding The One who will make True Love larger than life!
So, on this lazy Sunday, I encourage you all to let go and be FREE! ❤
Girl with a Green (and Lighter) Heart