Though my heart dropped into my stomach when I received that message, I didn't respond, because...... I never knew.... that he thought I was beautiful.
I had never let myself hear that before.
He had said I was beautiful.
I know he used the word "beautiful", because that word struck me painfully.
I had always told myself, I wasn't pretty enough for him.
He didn't say, "how beautiful you've become", because we'd known each other awhile, he said "how beautiful you are".... He didn't say "pretty" or "cute" or "sexy", I had never known that he thought I was beautiful.
And when I finally responded to the text...
He wondered why I hadn't responded sooner and he'd felt hurt in my silence.
He said again "I have always thought you were beautiful."
..... and I had always told myself I wasn't.
I had for as long as we'd known each other, told myself I wasn't pretty enough for him.
When I finally heard those words, we had been together for years, and off and on, we'd inevitably end up dating, but it always lead to nowhere, and every time I didn't hear back from him, I had made up stories to justify his silence.
I had always wanted more and he never had.
On our first date, we met at a Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood. And almost every date afterward he would take me to eat Mexican food at a Mexican restaurant, the thing was, I don't like Mexican food much, but I never said anything.
I never spoke up, even on the second go round. By the third go round, 3 years into our knowing each other, I finally told him.
"I don't really like Mexican food."
"What? You love Mexican food, we always go to Mexican Restaurants."
"We go to Mexican restaurants because I know you like Mexican.... but I don't really care for it, not really, not every time we go out!"
"Why have you never said anything to me? Why haven't you ever told me what you like?"
"There are a lot of things I've haven't told you about myself."
Pike's Place Market Famous Gum Wall...pictures taken on one of my first dates in Seattle, hopeful, I thought I would fall in love and my life would begin. Life is always better understood in retrospect, and the things we hoped sometimes, are better off left unfulfilled, until we are ready.
The truth is, I have loved a lot.
"I always take you to Mexican Restaurants because I thought that you liked them. Our first date was that Mexican place and that's why I always take you to eat Mexican. Now, I feel like a jerk, but I thought it was because you liked it."
My response was, "I always acted like I liked it because I thought you did."
Realizing neither of us had any real clue what the other liked.
This time, on the fourth go round, and upon reading that text. "I always have thought you are beautiful."
I fell silent.
I fell for him, again.
I still felt the things I had always felt, confusion, desire, unfulfillment, unrest.
I was silent.
What had I been telling myself all of these years? That wasn't true? That isn't true.
Now wondering, is this just what I've been telling myself, and it's not the truth and reality of who I am, or how I am seen by him, or how I am seen by the world?
I spent the entire day, reenacting our previous encounters, going over year after year. And at the end of every scenario and scene I had told myself "I'm not pretty enough for him..... to love me."
That had been my explanation for why things had never worked out between us.
I finally understood I'd been telling myself something that was straight up, untruth.
And I hadn't got that from anyone else but myself. I had told myself that. Not anyone else. Not him.
He had never said that.
"I'm too short, I err on the side of soft and round, and my hair is brown, it won't grow very long, and....I'm not pretty enough, for him to love me...."
This had been the story I had told myself.
What happens when I stop telling myself this untruth?
I wish I could tell you, that the fourth time we came together it was IT .....but that's not how it went...
For the first time I was myself, completely myself and when we were together there was no holding back. I was who I am, fully, completely, and I wanted him completely and fully and with everything within me...
This time around I when I wanted to go to the Mexican Restaurant, it was because I enjoyed the memories of everything that we had been together in those days, and what had transpired in my life knowing that these days I just enjoy what is.
In the end, our differences and desires were too great to bridge, he likes his cheeseburger plain, and I like my sushi raw.
He was sorry we weren't meant to be together, and I cried, because this time I knew it was the last time, as he drove me to the airport to say goodbye.
I had discovered I loved him for showing me how much I had come to love myself.
I wasn't mad at him for saying what he felt, after the years we'd known each other.
I loved him for that.
I love a lot these days. Even when it feels like being broken.
I keep breaking, and flowing, and crashing like water.
I think that certain people, the ones who shape us because of their influence on our life's story, never really leave us, never really say goodbye.
They reside within us, and you learn to love them as part of yourself, and that is beautiful.