He doesn’t deserve me. He has chosen his fear, his depression, over me. I can only say this now because of the teaching moments of drudging through the muck of my own depression. But I believe it now. He doesn’t deserve me or my love. Because to walk away from me, to reject me, is the essence of disrespect and neglect.

I completely understand and sympathize with the effort of shoving round pegs into square holes. I held on to him for months – with what felt like a death grip. It almost killed me, to be frank. I was suffocating and desiccating from the inside out. I had to face the ugliness of my own heartache compounded by years and years of previous grief that had been hiding, lurking, waiting for me to uncover it. And even beneath all that, I harbored a mirrored pain for him. I took on his pain. It infiltrated me.

So here’s my first memory. The night we met, we met for drinks. It was cold, that February eve, but there’s something comforting about bundling up in heavy coats and scarves. So we met for drinks and we talked. I can’t begin to list what we talked about. I believe, if it were possible to in a span of four to five hours, we touched upon every topic. Science, art, philosophy, politics, family, etc.

But it wasn’t JUST the widespread conversation. Even more so, it was the vibration, the energy, the light that I seemed to sense from him with my sixth sense. It was everything that was left UNSAID. Unlike most other humans, let alone men, I have met, he was calm, patient, and extremely attentive. He was conscious, aware, projecting a serene power. And it was captivating, mesmerizing. He seemed keen to aspects of life that very few people consider significant or even notice. Instantly, I knew I had “found” something, someone, rare.

It was his gaze. His unwaveringly, deep, and meaningful gaze into my eyes for long moments at a time, completely silent and yet all-telling. It was as if he searched for me in those moments. And I could sense and see a glimmer of momentary satisfaction when he seemingly found me. Just through softly piercing eye contact, he stripped me bare. And I so willingly offered my naked soul.

I would later come to note that these vulnerable moments would usually end with a very endearing and slightly bashful half-smile – a characteristic that would soon leave my knees weak and my heart a puddle. I lived for these moments.

That first night set the tone for our five months together. He admitted and shared with me on that first night stories of his childhood that most would never want to relive. I was surprised that he was still standing, after everything he had faced, and felt awe that he could emanate such serenity, as if there were no other choice.

In those first five hours together, the universe seemed to stand still. We covered ground that many don’t within the first six months of a relationship. Even now, I’m not sure what dictated this fast pace. Although, I’m the culprit, I’m convinced, out of self-inflicted, malicious habit.

I think you know me well enough now to understand when I say it was the poetry and the “je ne sais quoi” aura about the experience that had me reeling. And it was equally pleasant to find, on a dark, cold street, that our lips matched one another in a way that suggested our spirits knew each other already. We hadn’t just met for the first time. We were reacquainting ourselves. And that side street kept us occupied with this for another hour, showing us that we had chemistry so unique and so strong that it deserved a new word to describe it. Something to indicate, beyond hint, to the eras we had crossed over, the lifetimes we had traversed to reach each other once again.

Now that I’ve shared with you the start, I will clarify one thing. When I say that he is my true love or the love of my life, I don’t necessarily mean to imply that we were meant to stay together forever. I mean it in the sense that he is the most important soulmate that I’ve met – harkening back to that quote about how some soulmates are meant to enter your life for a short period of time and show you the path you’re supposed to be following. Now, part of me screams out, “That’s bullshit”. But I cannot deny the other part of me that sees the partial truth in the tragic makeup. Some people are meant to be the mirror to the monsters we keep unknowingly locked up inside. And we can only gaze into such a harsh mirror for so long.

Someone once said to me, very honestly, “Catherine was my love story.” Rather poignant, I think. Because I interpret “love story” as something tragic, a telling about Shakespearean star-crossed lovers. Something epic, something momentous that exists, and must exist, outside reality. This is how I see my story with him. And while it is tragic and heart-wrenching, it was worth it. It was worth experiencing the kind of profound love, if only for a glimmering instant, that I have fumbled to create with poetry, again and again.

And though he’s afraid of me now and no longer receptive, I won’t sully the moments as they occurred. I do not question what we shared anymore. I do believe we felt a deep reciprocity, a spiritual bond, a connection I can only dream of rendering with image or words. But he IS afraid. He cannot accept me, for reasons only he can know. And I accept, now, that we weren’t meant to spend the rest of this life together. And, more importantly, I can accept the love I still feel for him, without questioning why.

Ironically, it was even he who first said to me, “Love is never a question.”

I, more than anyone, understand that the act of letting go cannot be forced. It comes only on wings of patience when the stars are aligned and the phoenix inside is ready for rebirth. I have learned to accept myself and whatever time lends me. It’s a Sisyphean feat to fight what is felt. I’ve spent too much time criticizing, judging myself for doing or not doing, for thinking or not thinking. Now I know, everything passes, unless I allow it to consume me. But it is in the act of allowing yourself to be strong, that you find your way out – when the phoenix has sprouted new wings.

Although it’s raining outside, the sun is finally shining within me. And I think it took me a long and treacherous path to realize that I need not feel guilty for letting him go, for moving on, and for finding joy in the smallest morsels of life again. I am so incredibly grateful for having crossed paths with him. Not only for the profundity of our interaction, but for the harsh and necessary lessons of what it means to survive the toughest emotional pain – the very real sense that your heart has shattered and cannot be mended. Or that your soul has been strapped in a straight-jacket, interminably.

We cannot appreciate the light without knowing darkness.