With permission, I have posted the email below.
I think your blog entered my life at the most perfect moment. You see, I am 25, and this past January, me and my boyfriend of 8 years broke up. I thought it would be the best thing for us, after being together since we were 16, and have only dated each other. Now that I am in the dating world, I am absolutely miserable. I miss my best friend, my boyfriend, my other half. But now he has moved on to a new girlfriend. It is absolutely heartbreaking. I have good days and I have bad days.
I am now afraid of being alone forever. I am afraid no one will love me the way he did, or look at me the way he did, or treat me the way he did. And yeah everyone says… You are young Gabby, you have plenty of time. But I am still scared and I cant help it. There is this guy in my life, he is the most up and down, hot and cold man I’ve ever met. I think the challenge of him makes me put up with it. But in reality, I need to realize he will NEVER make me his girlfriend, rather he will just keep me around until I smarten up and realize I’m worth so much more, and I deserve someone who wants me to be their girlfriend.
Now I know you are not a therapist or a counselor, but do you have any articles that help with either of my situations? Any articles that will help me realize my worth and that I shouldn’t settle for someone who treats me like an option? Or any articles that will help me realize I’m young and there is a big world out there and I wont be alone forever?
Thanks for listening,
Have you ever been on the “missed connections” section of Craigslist?
It’s a virtual message board, almost like one those bulletin boards for all the “missing persons,” for all the people who see someone– in a coffee shop, a dive bar, the grocery store, wherever– and they wished they had more courage to say hello.
Hi. Sup. Nice to meet you.
All those simple, one syllable words that suddenly get blocked from your lungs when you see a stranger from across the way whose blue eyes look like coming home.
It’s a booming collection of people who missed out and they are grabbing for another chance. I saw a “missed connection” the other day from a boy who posted a picture of a note left on his lap while he was sleeping in one of the libraries of NYU, nearly two years ago. The note said something like “Hello sleepy boy, I wonder what you are dreaming of. –The girl who sat across from you on the couch.” For two years he could not shake the girl who left him the note while he was dozing on piles of textbooks.
He’s just one of the millions of us who stay wondering about a person we’ve never met or known or shared so much as a coffee with. A site like “missed connections” works because a) we’re human. b) we crave connection. c) there is something dually haunting and beautiful about the idea what might have been. The “what if”s. The “maybe”s and the “perhaps,one day”s.
You can stand straight in the pits of missed connections, dear. No one will ever tell you to get gone or keep moving. Half of us don’t know how to get our feet unstuck from the muds of it either. But life is not a slew a “what might have been” moments. Life is exactly what you made happen. Life is what you did when you showed. Life is the choices you made. Life is the redemption you gained. Life, more than anything, is action steps. The times when you swallowed your fear and you said hello to the girl in the bright red cap reading Walt Whitman poetry.
It’s not thinking about leaving. It’s not wondering if you’ll ever meet someone again. It’s whether or not there are actually shoes on your feet. It’s whether or not you actually walk towards the door, twist the handle, and go.
I’m going to share a story with you.
I’ve never written it down before. I’ve shared it maybe only three or four times. But I am gonna need you to believe in crazy things– like God speaking to his little children– for you to tag along.
I dated a boy in the sliver of space between graduating from college and moving to New York City. He was wonderful. Really. I should have been happy. Even at the start though, I wanted to go free.
At the same time I was trying to get down low to the ground with my faith. I was really trying to figure out this God character. I got a book out from the library. It had a black cover. I thought it would teach me a thing or two about Faith. Grace. That stuff.
Turns out, the book was really a construction worker disguised as a book. It showed up to dig in the trenches of my heart. It was there to chisel me good. I could feel my insides stirring every time I picked the book up. I honestly never knew that God could stir you in a way where you feel it physically. But there was demolition underway. Bright, yellow caution tape up all around me.
One day while nannying, I was reading the book among a battlefield of Nerf guns and blond bowl cuts with tan torsos flying through the backyard when I looked up to see a spider spinning a web in the corner of the kitchen window. I was captivated. Enamored. I could not explain it. For reasons I may never fully understand, I would have watched that spider spin its web all day.
It was the first spider of dozens, G. Dozens that I would see in the next few days. One after the other after the other. Make no mistake, those spiders had to be a sign. They started showing up everywhere. The front yard. The kitchen table. The window sills. My dreams. Spiderman toys. Plastic spiders. Everywhere I turned.
I went home that first night, put my palms down on the kitchen table and faced my mother: “I am going insane. Legitimately insane. Spiders. Are. Everywhere.”
We spent the night Googling spiders. Coming up with their origins. Trying to figure out the root of them. Wondering what they could actually mean. Looking in the Bible. Were there spiders in the Bible?
Tell me I’m not crazy, tell me I’m not crazy, I whimpered into the night as I tried to fall asleep. I woke up the next morning to find three spiders spinning a web of fresh silk over the coffee pot on the stove.
The spider signs grew bigger and bigger and bigger. Every time I saw another one I could feel everything inside of me saying, “Let the boy go. Let the boy go.” I didn’t want to let him go. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to win. I wanted to somehow, someway, be worthy of being the center of someone’s universe. But still the whisper roared, Let. The. Boy. Go.
I closed the book. Hid it away. The signs stopped. The spiders ceased. The voices stopped. The stirring in my stomach fell away.
Weeks later, it ended. I left. It ended over something as stupid as the color “yellow.” You could call it “bound to happen all along” but I just call it “yellow,” even to this day. I said goodbye. I wiped the tears from my eyes. I got in my car. I felt freedom on my chest. I drove to the ocean. I sat in the sand by myself and I reopened the book right where I had closed it.
Two pages later, I stumbled into a story about a woman walking in the woods. A spider web appeared. And she stopped to watch that spider spin. She could have watched that spider spin its web all day. And then she heard from God,
“I am spinning. You are not. Let me go ahead of you. Stop trying to drag your own mess into my intricate picture. Don’t bring anything more into the web.”
It had been there the whole time. Just two pages away from me. But I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t see it. Not until I was ready to stop dragging around my own mess.
You have to go this alone. The voice inside me stirred again. This is not a matter of geography or what you can or cannot pack into a suitcase, this is a matter of who you’ve always wanted to be.
Don’t. bring. anything. more. into. the. web.
G, this is not a matter of geography or what you can or cannot pack into a suitcase. This is a matter of who you’ve always wanted to be. You’ve answered all your own questions right in your email. As Cheryl Strayed has written dozens of times, “You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Be brave enough to break your own heart.” You’ve got to trust all the words you’ve already written.
I’ll close by saying this,
I hope you leave. I genuinely, genuinely hope you walk towards the door today, or tomorrow, or the next day. Not because I wish to see you alone. Not because I think you need to be alone. Just because it would break my heart seven months past September to know you are out there, never fully knowing the weight of your worth or stepping into the person you’ve always wanted to be, because someone on the other side of that relationship was too stupid to see that you’re a light. And that lights don’t belong under blankets. Lights belong on trees. Lights belong on hills. Lights belong in all the little places where people can see them and they cannot say anything more than, “There is a light. There she is, there she is.” You might never know the micro tears– the hundreds & hundreds of them– that will form on the inside of you just by staying there.
Lights belong where people can see them, G.
Don’t bring anything more into the web.
I would appreciate if we could keep the conversation going for G. Please post a comment of blessing, a lesson, a mini love letter. Whatever you please. She is reading and I know she would appreciate it too.