Welcome to Dear Life: An Unconventional Advice Column.
Your questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer (and please keep sending because I have like 567 writers that want to answer your burning questions. Click here to submit a letter or email firstname.lastname@example.org.) Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. We are “making messy okay.” Today’s letter is answered by Eva Hagberg, who has gorgeously answered another Dear Life a few months back.
Send us your questions because there loads of crazy authors waiting to answer ‘em. Just kidding, they aren’t crazy.
Well okay, maybe a little. Aren’t we all? xo, Jen Pastiloff, Crazy Beauty Hunter.
Over the past few months I’ve been stuck in a complicated matter of the heart.
I have fallen really hard for my best friend. She and I have been friends for a little over a year and our relationship has always been more than just a friendship and less than an actual boyfriend and girlfriend relationship. We have always been mushy with each sending mushy texts, pics and saying deeply heartfelt things to eachother which would make others think we were a couple (which most thought we were). I know she’s the one who I want to spend the rest of my life with and she’s the other half to my whole. The feelings have been mutual since the beginning.
Here’s where it’s gets extremely complicated she started seeing someone in may and they’ve gotten even closer since and she told me they love each other very much. I told her how I felt and let out all of my feelings for her last month and she was completely surprised by it in a good way but she’s with her boyfriend at the moment. I told her I loved her (even told her on her birthday in June) which she thought that was just as close friends and said she had no idea. We got into a little argument few weeks ago but we resolved that. I love her with all my heart and know she’s the love of my life. I want to fight for her but that’s not possible right now and since she lives in a different state now. I believe it’s a case of the right person at the wrong time. What do you think I should do? It’s driving me crazy since I feel so helpless right now. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
First of all, I’m so sorry that it has taken this long to get a response to you. Jen Pastiloff sent this to me a few months ago, and I remember connecting so deeply with it that I immediately jumped on it. And then… I started feeling like I wouldn’t actually be able to help you…. like I wouldn’t really know what to say…. worrying that if I did the wrong thing then you would do the wrong thing and then all hope would be lost. I started thinking that my response somehow would actually have the power to alter the course of your life, and significantly, and all of that pressure and worrying made it so that even as I always thought about this in the back of my mind, and started drafting responses, none of them ever felt quite good enough.
As soon as I realized that, though – I realized, this might be close to how you feel. That your next action with your friend is going to absolutely and irrevocably alter the course of your – and her – life forever.
I feel for you. I really do. I know these friendships – these deep and intimate and heartfelt and beautiful and romantic-without-kissing friendships, friendships that you know will change your life forever regardless of how they end up. I have had those friends where everyone thought we were a couple, or were about to be, or obviously must secretly be, because of the strength of our connection and the right-ness of our togetherness. And yet, I never crossed that line with those friends, and in a month I will marry the person who I know, absolutely and without a doubt, is the person I’m supposed to be with.
It sounds to me like you love her deeply and also, and this is crucial, like you have an idea of exactly how that love needs to look. She has a boyfriend right now, which tells me that no matter how much she may secretly love you, she is simply not available right now. Now – I never used to let this bother me; if I believed that someone had feelings for me, I felt that they were available. But there is a difference between depth of feeling and level of availability, and she may love you deeply and beyond all time and space, and not be available to even hear what you have tried to tell her.
You say it’s a case of right person wrong time. I think in that case it is both right person right time (and I’ll get to that), and also, and so sadly, it’s wrong person wrong time – because if it was the right person, it would be the right time. We are culturally conditioned to believe that if something is challenging and difficult and also very complicated, it must then be worth fighting for – and once we think something is worth fighting for we start thinking we live in Romeo + Juliet and must have this person at all costs. Before I met my fiance, I believed that many of the people I’d dated or lived with or fallen in love with or just known were the right people at the wrong time. But they were actually exactly the people that I needed to meet, which is why they were the right people at the right time. The boy I met on a business trip who got me so twisted up that I ended up leaving New York? – I needed to leave New York. It didn’t work with him, because that wasn’t the role he was supposed to play in my life. But he played an absolutely essential role.
We can fight the current or we can go with it. And the current in your life is pulling you away from a romantic relationship with this woman, for now. You know that she is the love of your life, and I believe you. I believe that she is a love of your life. As I prepare to get married in a month, part of my process is recognizing that there are people who will live in my heart forever, without whom my life would not be the beautiful, messy, glorious, courageous, incredible gift that it is. They are loves of my life as much as this man who will be my husband is a love of my life, in a different way. Things with him are easy and uncomplicated, and at the same time he offers me the most challenging and lively awakenings I could ever imagine, every single day. The other loves are friend loves, different loves. Loves that taught me how to love him. I had a friend who died last year, and she loved me and I loved her in a way that opened up a new section of my heart that had never been touched before. She wasn’t my partner, my romantic future. But she was a love of my life. And the way that she loved me prepared me for the way that my fiance does now.
I don’t know who this person who you love should be to you, but I know what she is to you right now. Someone who has taught you that you have a beautiful, powerful, deep capacity to love someone else. And when we love someone, we give them an uncomplicated gift. When we need something back from them, when we need them to start acting the way we think they need to act so that they fall in line with our idea of what needs to happen, we no longer love them for who they are, as they are. I think that you should start there, with honoring the part of your heart that this friend has introduced you to. And with letting go of how you think your love for her needs to look. Just love her. You do. We don’t know what’s going to happen, and we don’t know what’s supposed to happen. But I do know that the more we love, the more we grow, and the more we are able, when it’s right, to love as fully and as freely as we deserve.
Eva Hagberg is a writer, teacher, editor, and PhD Candidate in the one-person interdisciplinary Department of Visual and Narrative Culture, which she created at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation explores the intimate professional and personal relationships between three mid-century modernist architects and their wives, and offers a revisionist and narrative-focused understanding of what the work is, how it got made, and what it means.
Her work on architecture and design has been published in multiple publications including Metropolis, Wallpaper*, Dwell, Surface, the New York Times, T: The New York Times Magazine, and esquire.com.
She is the author of two books on architecture, Dark Nostalgia and Nature Framed, and of the best-selling Kindle Single, “IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD,” which documents her five-year search for a medical diagnosis and consequent travels in the land of maybe-cancer, and which was selected as one of Amazon’s Best Digital Singles of 2013. She currently lives in Oakland, California, and really likes to bake.
Please note: Advice given in Dear Life is not meant to take the place of therapy or any other professional advice. The opinions or views offered by columnists are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed physician or mental health professional. Columnists acting on behalf of Dear Life are not responsible for the outcome or results of following their advice in any given situation.