Sunday, September 30, 2012

Being 30: The First Lesson

I woke up on Thursday morning expecting to feel different. I opened my eyes and waited. Other than sore hamstrings from the previous day's run, everything felt the same. I rolled over and watched the sun peak over the horizon, realizing this wasn't just an ordinary day. It was my birthday. I smiled.

30 freakin' years old. Ain't that something?

I got up and checked my phone, knowing I would be inundated with Facebook posts, text messages and voicemails. As I scrolled through the well wishes, I noticed one from  someone I call LOML (the love of my life). It was a simple message--the kind of birthday greeting most people give to their friends. 

Friends. That three word message made it abundantly clear what role I played in his life. On Thursday, I finally realized that there would never be a promotion in this relationship. The dream that I had held in my heart for years ended and I finally realized what we were to each other: friends. A word I normally cherish broke my heart into a million pieces on Thursday morning.

As I moped around my hotel room (singing Toni Braxton songs in my head because Shayla hates when I actually play them....HATER), I realized I had no reason to be upset. In fact, I had every reason to celebrate. Not only was I alive, I was free. LOML lurked in the shadows of all of my previous relationships. Looking back, I never gave 100 percent of myself to any of them, because I always believed that he just might realize how awesome I was and we would be together. When the other men noticed and walked away --rightfully so--I consoled myself with the knowledge that they just didn't "get me." Of course they didn't. I never allowed them access. I have read so many articles about emotionally unavailable men, but the truth of the matter is I have been emotionally unavailable too. 

If I am brutally honest with myself, I always knew what we were. I chose to leave that door open because it was so much easier than really allowing myself to be invested in love. In real life, you are obligated to tear down the walls around your heart. You have to risk rejection and hurt in order to receive the payoff of true intimacy. But when your mind is the paintbrush, it's very easy to edit out all of the insecurities, fears and not so pretty parts of the picture. I'd go so far as to say I was never even in love with LOML; I was in love with the fantasy of him. LOML is not a bad guy at all. In fact, he's one of the greatest men I've ever known. He's just not the one for me. 

So, if anyone asks me what was the best gift I received for my birthday, I would tell them the chocolate cake my dad bought me. Seriously, that was some good cake. But the second best gift is the closure I received. For the first time in my adult life, I feel like I am ready to not only give love, but receive it as well. My heart is open and I am absolutely thrilled at the possibilities. More than anything, I am grateful that all of this happened without compromising a friendship  that means so much to me. Now that would be a tragedy. 

LOML, if you're reading this (and I suspect you are): thank you. 

To everyone else, be encouraged. Today is a great day to loose the shackles of the past and start loving on your own terms.  

30 and Loving It, 

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