Our lives are different.

This is such a weird day! On the one end, I got to see a bit behind the veil of E, seeing how hurt and lost she feels and how much she trusted that I put her in a safe place at my mother’s house. Her message is covered in spite and anger, and sarcasm – all things I feel are still caused by her psychosis. But the hurt is there. It’s those single little phrases like “you promised me I’d be safe there” that show me how she feels underneath. The fear the cancer gave her. Trusting that her friend would keep her safe so she could battle the cancer.

All I want to say (but can’t, because she has no phone and she has disabled chat for me on FB – tomorrow I’m going by the hospital to deliver her sim-card and a borrowed laptop. Maybe she’ll see me, maybe she won’t) is, sweet girl, I love you and I’m sorry you are feeling this way now. I’m sorry for the disappointment that dripped from your face in blue paint. I’m sorry that you feel like I wasn’t on your side, but trust me, I still am. I am still here for you, I still love you no matter what. If you never want to see me again… That’s okay.

On the other hand, I’ve been rereading some of the 90.695 (not counting the SMS’s and some irretrievable whatsapps, the 300+ photo’s and IRL conversations we had) words J and I exchanged since we first met on that glorious wedding at the end of May 2014. I have finally felt like I’ve been able to fully dive back into “us”. I had a realization last night – of course while doing some random chore as hanging the laundry with no pen and paper at hand – about how both J’s and my exact same sleeping position is so reflecting of the lesson we are facing (and one that is coming up a lot in my I AM-exercise). Of course I knew this all deep down right after we met, but I never fully realized what that issue was without the lessons I have learned since then.

J did exactly what his parents expected of him, the only child. Went to some $25k per year high school. Pursued an academic career. High grades (he got through university – both bachelor and master – on full ride scholarships. Straight A’s, Honors, Deans List (I have no fucking clue what that even means) the works. Got into relationships. Applied and got into a 1% job in his (and my) field of study.

I tried to do that too, but failed because I spent 20 hours or more per week working a job in the side. Didn’t get the grades I wanted, but felt I needed to make my parents proud. To guarantee a prestigious job after college, to be able to make the world a better place in the only way I thought was expected of me, the only way that would actually be ‘meaningful’. But I didn’t get the grades. I didn’t graduate Cum Laude. I didn’t pick the right major straight away. I felt like I had failed in so many ways, trying to fit into a system, that I deep down didn’t want to fit into anyway. It felt like I had lost so much time ducking around, trying to decide what I wanted, that I wasted precious time that I could otherwise have spent putting all my talents to good use, either studying harder, doing more relevant extracurricular activities, trying to apply for jobs at the UN or EU or whatever, anything to put my intellect and language skills to use as the diplomat or human rights activist my mother envisioned me to be. But I failed. With all this intellect, I still haven’t been able to perform a simple trick to fit in.

J and I both have felt this pressure to perform, we feel like we need to live up to the expectations others, our parents, have of us. We aim to please, aim to be better, to do our best. But by trying to be perfect, we aim to reach other people’s standards. Other people’s definition of success. Other people’s, society’s definition of prestige – instead of our own.

But not anymore.

I have never fit into the ‘system’ and I never will. The fact that I haven’t actually been able to fit in, is a testament to my authenticity. When a professor says to jump, I don’t ask, how high. I ask why. And why not use a rope, or why not climb, or … I don’t perform tricks, and I don’t fit in a format. And I am proud of that. I don’t want to do a Ph.D. and I don’t care how well it looks on a resume. I don’t care about my Master’s diploma. I did those courses because they interested me. I appreciate the academic skills I’ve been taught, and the tools I’ve learned to order information and think critically about them, but I do not care about my grades for yapping along with what my teachers think about a subject (Nice example – I had a 5 out of 10 in Literature in high school, where a 6 is required to pass. I am fucking proud of that 5, because I was the only one in class that had actually read all the books myself plus more than on the list. I didn’t repeat what the teacher said, like the others, who had only read each other’s summaries).

I am good enough. Better yet; I am becoming the best version of myself I can be, and I am not afraid to not fit in anymore. I don’t feel any need to aspire some ‘prestigious’ (academic) career anymore. J… I feel like he is still in a place where he feels like he just needs to be given a chance by the very system that we both know neither of us fit into. He is still trying to do what is expected, a Ph.D., a job at the US government (which, in his own words, might not be the job that he ultimately wants to do to make him happy, but if it can help him bring down at least one ISIS moron, it’s a start). He is in a place where he feels like he’s been finally given a chance to show his worth, to have his life fall into place again after 2 years of … Meh-ness.

I am rereading all the messages between us, and I see how we’ve grown. I see the burden on his shoulders, the pressure to perform. I see the hurt, the heartbreak, the cynicism and yet… I see the hope between it all. I see that even without knowing all that I know now, all I wanted was to show him how he is perfect in everything he does. How proud I am of him, just for being the wonderful man he is. How the only expectation he needs to meet, is his own. The only person he needs to make happy, is himself. I see in his reaction to my clumsy words how deep that pain is, and I see how much healing I still needed myself.

Most of all though, I see how much I love him, how much I have loved him from the start, and how much I will continue to love him. We are so similar, so mirroring. This is our time to heal. This is my chance to help him see how the fear of “never being good enough” dissolves completely when you surrender to love. My love for J (among other things) has shown me the mirrors I needed to start to heal me. Whether he knows it or not, he has made me realize that it is possible to love another person without limits, without criticism, without blame, without judgement. J has made me love myself for all that I am, simply by being all that he is.

And for that, I am forever grateful.

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