I’m a habitual murderer of green, leafy things. Every plant I try to nurture dies, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. A month ago, I planted a viola. Amazingly, it grew and flourished… until it was time to replant it into a bigger pot, and that sounded like too much hard work. I wanted my viola to grow up big and strong, but I didn’t want it enough to actually let it grow up big and strong.
My viola has been wilting for days. I’m not that careless with pets. I can barely leave the dog to destroy me with his sad puppy eyes for the 10 minutes it takes to eat my lunch. I spend more on his treats than my own, and he gets his walk even if I’d rather wax my entire body, head included, than hike around the estuary.
Relationships are like that. I’ve known men who treated me the way I treat my viola, and I’ve known men who treated me the way I treat my Bobby dog. I’ve intuitively known the difference. When a man likes having you around, but not enough to let your relationship grow up big and strong, something inside you knows it. When you’re treated as irreplaceable, you know it, too. You know it by your complete absence of fear and insecurity. You know it by your unyielding joy.
I’ve felt viola-love and Bobby-love in relationships as well. I’m sure we all have. My manly violas were awesome to have around or I would have left them. I loved the brightness they brought to my world, and I loved watching them thrive. The trouble was that when the relationship needed a bigger, more permanent pot, I got lazy. I wanted them to grow and flourish, but not enough to create the conditions needed to let them thrive.
And those men knew I wasn’t in it wholeheartedly even if they didn’t know they knew. They felt insecure. They questioned many of my actions, not quite knowing why, just as I did with my own half-hearted exes. When you’re in that kind of relationship, you notice tiny things that indicate you’re an option, not a necessity, but they seem too minor to call out, so you stew in your intuition as silently as you can.
I really believed I was interested in my viola-men because I was. The missing passion that had driven my most compelling relationships seemed irrelevant to me somehow. You can’t have the stars every time, right? So the fact that you’ve only reached the moon doesn’t really seem like an “only.” The moon is good. You’ll never get the stars again anyway. Yes?
But it was relevant. It was relevant to them because they wanted the stars. They deserved the stars. In keeping them, I was preventing them from finding kind of relationship they wanted.
“If you do not love the way her hair curls at the ends or her nose wrinkles when she laughs then let her go. If you don’t see her as a fucking masterpiece then let her go, because someone else will. Don’t be selfish. If you don’t love the way she sneezes or the way she dribbles the toothpaste down her chin when she brushes her teeth then let her go. If your heart doesn’t almost beat out of your chest when you wake up and the first thing you see is her soundly sleeping on your shoulder. Someone else would kill for that. […] She is wonder, she is magic, she deserves someone who believes that every single day, not just on certain days.” By E.E.