My Independence Isn’t a Strength — I’m Too Much of a Coward to Love

And it will always be my biggest regret.

Photo by Natalie Hua on Unsplash

As usual, time is not fair, and I tend to lose things I never appreciated enough. My biggest regrets in life so far consist of:

  1. Not taking enough pictures.

I’m naive to believe that time would never come for me. I thought I could live in each moment forever, or even that a moment could be sticky enough that it was worth fearing getting stuck in it. I was always ready to escape with one foot out the door. I was prepared to leave, I was prepared for coldness.

Brief moments of every phase of my life pass by me like a kaleidoscope of a dream. I can almost remember it, and if I had a photo to look at or the right song to listen to it would all come flooding back. Each glimpse that felt like an eternity at the time but is now getting forgotten behind me like a past life.

But being prepared to leave, being willing for it to end simply and cleanly, robbed any chance I had for it to mean something. I don’t know how much I love someone until after I leave them. It’ll be years later a song comes on and all of a sudden I feel too much too late.

I’m fiercely independent, mostly because the idea of relying on or trusting someone else feels embarrassing.

A month into moving in with one of my best friends, she went through a brutal breakup. She and her boyfriend had been together for three years, lived together, and she had moved across continents to be with him. Now, he was dumping her after cheating on another girl. She was devasted and sank into a depression for a couple of months. One night she played Queen's ‘Love of My Life’ on repeat for seven whole hours.

I tried to be a supportive friend, but in the back of my head, I judged her.

That’s so embarrassing that she cares so much. He doesn’t care, why should she?

(Other me) Shut up! Be a good friend, she’s in a lot of pain.

Well, she’s weak. Let’s never be that, okay?

Okay. I don’t want to ever lose control of my feelings like that.

Despite the pain she went through, she came out stronger on the other side. To this day she is one of the coolest, kindest, and most resilient people I know. She got signed to her dream company in Milan and had transformed her life completely. It’s a privilege to watch someone drastically grow like that.

In the end, our friendship fell apart because I was unwilling to open up. She craved deep and sincere emotional connection. I pushed her away. I kept things at a surface level. Trusting someone intimately — platonic or otherwise — was not something I was willing to do. She gave up on trying to break down my walls.

I regret, to this day, the level of deep friendship I missed out on because opening up to someone seemed icky. I’ll never get that time back. I’ll never get the chance to change things, be more vulnerable, and be a better friend. Having managed to form a few deep friendships today, they are so beautiful and rewarding.

I’m a control freak who doesn’t want anybody else touching my emotions.

No! I don’t want to share! They're my emotions (mine!) and I won’t stand for anyone else playing with them!

I like carefully controlling every aspect of my life. Nothing should be allowed to control my emotions except for me. And I like to control my emotions heavily.

When I become involved with other people, they can heavily influence my emotions. I lose control. I don’t like that. By keeping walls up, other people don’t get to control my emotions.

But — the funny, crazy thing I’ve recently discovered — I don’t get to control my own emotions either! Trust me, I’ve tried. Trying to control your own emotions will backfire.

My therapist tells me not to label emotions as ‘bad’. They tell me that all feelings are here for a reason, and it’s my job to work out why they’re there. Even feelings that feel uncomfortable are just trying to teach me a lesson. It sounds like a pile of ooey-gooey crap, but I guess they’re right.

Sometimes I wish that the human brain had an off switch, so I wouldn’t have to deal with all the discomfort. But when I actually feel the pain, I’ve realized that my fear of the pain was usually the worst part.

Trying to stop the bad emotions tends to make them worse. How annoying.

My intuition has been wrong about people. I thought that I found a reliable person I could trust, and I was wrong.

My gut feeling is useful for deciding lots of things, like which goals to chase and what to eat for lunch. But my gut feeling has been wrong about people. I can’t trust it.

I’m young and there’s so much I don’t know. It feels like every time I get hurt, it’s in some way I didn’t know was possible. People can hurt me in ways I’d never even considered. It’s scary not being able to trust yourself.

People who seemed good for me ended up being toxic and abusive. It’s impossible for me to tell what a person is really going to be like when you get close to them.

But if I can’t trust someone with the power to hurt me, how can I trust them with the power to impact me for the better?

More importantly, I need trust that I can put myself back together after whatever they put me through.

My biggest regret is not loving people as deeply as I can. I was afraid of vulnerability and ashamed of my emotions. I wanted to feel strong, unshakable, independent. I wanted to move through life without falling down. How silly of me. How absolutely ridiculous.

This is my life. Of course, I’m going to fall down. Of course, I’m going to get hurt. There’s nothing wrong with that. Otherwise, what would be the point of anything?

I’m going to feel pain whether I love people or not. So I might as well let myself love people. Plus, I think the pain from a loss of love is the best kind of pain.

Hey, we’re both tiny specks in a universe full of stars that happened to exist at the same time. Cool!