Separating Loving from Longing
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Life in the Third Degree.
It’s been a long night, and I haven’t slept a wink. Again. I could blame it on this insane trachea infection that’s finally starting to yield, but I won’t. I’ve been working on a book proposal, and while it’s kept my energies channeled in a positive direction, it’s also brought up emotions I don’t have time to deal with tonight.
Things always seem more emotional in the night. Maybe it’s the night air. After all, the night air certainly has a mean effect on my allergies. Or maybe it’s the power of the stars. Or maybe I just shouldn’t try to think about anything at all after midnight because that’s always when feelings seem amplified. In the harshness of daylight, life will look a bit different.
But it’s another night and another realization, and I did tell my spirit guides not to slow down the epiphanies.
I thought earlier tonight, hours before midnight, of the man I’m crazy about. I lit a candle for him, but first, I wrote his name and birthdate on the bottom, then put a touch of scented oil on top. I put a match to the wick as I prayed over it, that I might just love him as he is with no expectations. It burned well into the wee hours of night.
As the candle burned, I let myself simply enjoy the feelings that came with thinking of him. The enthusiasm in his smile. The warmth in his eyes. The timbre of his laugh. The intimacy of his voice. All things the rest of the world takes for granted. And I breathe in the luxury of these images and memories and…enjoy.
But somewhere around midnight, that funny night air settles in and something happens with those ethereal and slightly disconnected feelings of joy and love at simply having this man in my life.
It starts like a pinprick and without warning, it’s stinging like a viper. It wraps around my heart and instead of caresses, it squeezes out hurt into my veins. The feelings are still deeply romantic and full of love but there’s something new, a hue that sheaths these feelings and turns them painful where they had felt so wonderful a few hours earlier.
Then I name the feeling. It’s longing. I’m longing for him, and it feels god-awful.
But since when, before this year, have love and longing not been synonymous? I grew up with long distance boyfriends and an ever-present unrequited love for shaggy-haired boys. Then I married a man who was physically present yet kept himself so deeply isolated that I never really knew him, never was really allowed inside his walls. And so with all the years of loving him, I also longed for a closeness that was rarely there.
Dashing headlong into these feelings of unconditional love has spun off the negative, separated it out so I can see it. This deep and desperate sense of longing has nothing to do with this new man—though I would like to spend some time with him—but rather, with what was missing in previous relationships. Love and longing were the same thing. I never knew any different. I never knew they could be different.
In the light of day, without the wickedness of night air, I will light another candle for him and forbid the feelings of longing to twist my heart into knots. I’ll drench myself instead in the way it feels when I think of his eyes and smile and laugh and voice. I will learn not to long for him but to enjoy him for what he is when he is with me.