I’m heading out to another wedding today. This time, it’s for a couple who I’m very close to and I’m so happy to see them tying the knot and making their union official to friends and family in the rituals that are sacred to them and their family.
I honestly don’t know how I feel about marriage. I read too many stories of couples breaking apart and having to fight a system that insists they stay together. And then things get ugly and it becomes about money and possessions and how do you even begin to divide what you’ve acquired together. I’ve seen unhappy marriages and I’ve seen unconventional family situations — single mothers, single fathers, grandparents taking care of their grandchildren — and while it is sad, a lot of times, the children come out all right.
I think, especially in this day and age, we have to redefine the concept of the family for the children who don’t grow up in the traditional definition of one that allows them less pressure and are raised without the expectation to have just what everybody else has.
But I do believe in love and I have seen wonderful marriages and I do believe that people can be in love forever and stay together. I have seen it in the parents of my friends and my own parents, to be sure, and I’ve attended my fair share of marriages of friends who deserve their happily-ever-after. They fought for it, worked hard on it, and earned that right.
I believe in love.
I believe in love, the romantic kind, even though I’ve never really, truly experienced it myself. I’ve been in love but never really reciprocated. I’m not lucky in that regard. I’ve have so many stories of when I fell hard for someone and that person just didn’t feel the same way about me and how I had to carry on through afterwards.
And I don’t know if I’m bitter or cynical about it. It’s gotten harder, definitely, being HIV positive. I was asked if being HIV positive made it more difficult, finding love, and I said, I had a hard time already when I wasn’t HIV positive, I don’t think being HIV positive has anything really to do with it. I think it’s me. I think there’s something about me that just doesn’t connect with the people I fall in love with.
Now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I’ve come to a point where I feel like I am in the best state to be worthy of being in a relationship. I’m smarter, wiser, less needy, and more caring and sensitive. I want it, to be honest. Love. That kind of love. I am loved, for sure. My friends and family — even strangers who have come to admire my honesty about my situation have told me so — but I have not yet really experienced what it is to love just one other person in that way. Romantic love. That kind of love.
Just recently, I met someone that really rocked my world. Despite him not being the kind of guy I am usually attracted to, just everything about him electrified my senses. The more I got to know him, the more I realised I really, really liked him. I even deigned to say that he is the perfect guy for me. Pre-maturely stated, I guess, since I’ve yet to really cross any intimate boundary beyond what is normal between new friends.
But I have never denied the stirrings in my heart and I know that he’s just absolutely wonderful. And, so I have been told, he was sort of interested as well. But then, we ended as friends because, to be honest, my medical condition was something he wasn’t comfortable with. He was very, very tender and sensitive about it. I admire the honesty and I gave him a way out and he took it and we chose to be friends. And it was that honesty and the tender and sensitive way in which he went about it that really struck me — he really is someone I could really love.
And I do. I still do. But I think he has eased himself into the friendship and I know that our love story has probably ended. It’s still fresh, though, and I still have remnants of hope underneath my skin but eventually it will go and when the truth finally settles and I’ve accepted it fully, then I can be a real friend.
I know it will happen. I’ve done it before. I’ve done it several times before. I have a few friends that I was in love with at some point and I’ve been a good and true friend.
And now I find myself letting go. I believe in love. I still believe in it. But I don’t know if I want to go through that all over again. I won’t close my doors but I’m not going to be knocking in anybody’s door anytime soon. I don’t want to. Let them come and let them sweep me off my feet. That’s what I’ve always wanted anyway. But I can’t keep putting myself out there and just getting turned away — no more how politely or tenderly they do so — because my heart can’t take it anymore.
I still believe in love. And if any of my friends come to me asking for my opinion or advice, I’ll always be on the side of love. But I won’t look for it for myself anymore. It’s too painful. I can be happy for everybody else. Hell, I’ll be the happiest person in the world if he finds someone who will be good to him and who will make him happy. I will.
Just for not me. Because if I believe it can happen for me, then I’ll be waiting for it, then I’ll be going after it, and I don’t know if I can handle another rejection.
Allow me this moment of weakness. I am raw and fragile and vulnerable right now. My last few poems came from a wound that is still fresh and open. These words right now are the effects of that wound, but it is also the salve. Because now that I’ve said it, written it here, then I know I’m healing.
And healing, sometimes, is just as painful as the cut.