Not the Did, But the Was

It's difficult to pick from these prompts, only because love is such an amorphous feeling. At first, I wanted to say "Lost Love," but truth be told, the lesson that I learned from this first love, lost love, whatever you'd like to call him, is that I possess these feelings.

I'm reading the prompt, "Many people get hung up on their first love, for reasons of history or just the fact that love is defined in terms of this particular person." It's not that I can't get over this person. But, for the first time in many years, I'm starting to be able to put words to all the feelings that this boy engendered in me. So, we're onto the lessons I learned from this relationship instead.  "Oftentimes our first loves teach us more about love and human relations than any other relationships we will ever have."This prompt speaks more accurately to where I'm at than the one that intimates that I'm not over it.

When he and I began dating, my family and I were in the first year of coping with my father's severe brain damage as a result of a car accident. I came in to the relationship very guarded, and hesitant to be vulnerable because I'd just been through this trauma and I felt as though I'd lost my life's guidepost.

I remember often repeating to this boy my newly adopted mantra of "I don't know how to love," and trying to maintain a sense of coolness and distance from him, so that I wouldn't get hurt. The truth is, though, that I do know how to love, and that this boy (I call him boy because I equate him with a sort of innocence and genuineness. Man seems too worldly, too old. Guy sounds like he's a jerk, which he isn't) kindled it.

We spent what the pop-psych relationship gurus will call not enough time together. And, those same pop-psych people will yammer on about "it didn't work out for a reason," and "obviously he didn't like you enough to make the effort," or "if he really cared, he would have bridged the distance," all of these punctuated with "it wasn't meant to be."

But, the time we had was very intense, and very meaningful. I remember once he told me (maybe in a worried tone) that our relationship had progressed as rapidly in five or six weeks, as his previous relationship had in as many years. We met respective families, spent countless hours together talking and sharing our stories. But, there was an impending end. His brief stay in our shared hometown would conclude at the end of the summer and he would move on to the next phase in his life a few hundred miles away.

He moved. I clung. For which, I've since apologized, since he and I have remained friends in the four years since our relationship ended. But, what led me to this post, these realizations, strangely enough, was this commercial Valentine's day and taking inventory of the various demonstrations of my affection for him that, along with my strong feelings for him, summarily met his remonstration "I never did anything to deserve this from you."

On this V-day, where couples go out of their way to have done something for one another -- flowers, cards, romantic dinners, Hershey's kisses on bedroom floors, surreptitiously planned scavenger hunts and the like -- I started ruminating on what made my relationship with this boy so memorable. It wasn't the did, it was the was.

Who he was made him deserve my affection. Who he was made me feel. Who he was allowed me to trust him, not just enough but emphatically, and that's where this whole conundrum found its solution.

Maybe it's not that I couldn't get over him, but it is that love, for me, became defined after him (less amorphously than I had thought) by those feelings of trust, of "right" that I felt with him.

I've mourned this relationship for a long time, largely because in the four years since then, I haven't been able to trust anyone -- or, nobody has fostered that sort of trust in me, as it were. And, also because I miss the part of this person, or who this person was, that was mine or with me in our relationship. It's not so much that I've compared others to him, but that those feelings haven't resurfaced.

A friend of mine once told me that I possess a kind of love that only few can receive, an all-encompassing, completely giving love, that the wrong person will think of as overwhelming. He said that one day, the right person would be able to handle this love. So, I wait. But, the important thing is that I know I'm not loveless. I'm not a coquette. And, I'm not afraid to love and be loved in kind.

This is the lasting memory of my first love, and I suppose those memories are the sum of the lessons that I learned from him.

PatientRapunzel PatientRapunzel
31-35, F
28 Responses Feb 14, 2006

beautifully written.

"(I call him boy because I equate him with a sort of innocence and genuineness. Man seems too worldly, too old. Guy sounds like he's a jerk, which he isn't)"<br />
<br />
well i confess, you made me remember someone, probably because i used to see him innocent too, probably because he moved all away and we didn't meet for a long time now, sometimes it hurts to miss someone you still love but it's so beautiful to remember some remaining sweet memories. i really enjoyed reading, thanks for sharing. <br />
<br />
:] --smile !!

That sounds amazing. I sort of feel the same as you did in the beginning, minus the significant-other. Maybe one day I'll figure out how to trust and love in times of vulnerability.<br />
<br />
I really hope you're better. You sound like a wonderful person.

I once had a first love as well.. When i was around her, I was probably the most nervous and the most happy person alive. The feeling of love even when I recall it from 2 years back could explode almost as if I were going to let out the most powerful laugh in the history of laughter. And i loved to make her laugh too. I don't know.. We had moments together that were straight out of the movies. And even now, she probably doesn't know it, because I accepted my lonesome fate a while back so i dont bug he anymore. But I still want to love her.. But i cant without simply hurting myself.. So I try to forget her. And I convince myself I have. The truth is, I cant. I love her so much.. I feel badly for the girlfriends I've had because I'm either not there (feeling-wise) at all or i become super attached but not because I love them. Just kinda to have someone to hold and then remember the times when I was happy with her.. Any girl who dumps me, I feel emotionless. I couldn't honestly care less. I've already been hurt too much..

WOW! Wish l can meet you in person great story

It is such a great relief to find a way to think about something that works. Love is not for the faint of heart and often has more learning experiences in it than a person would knowingly volunteer for.<br />
The next thing that may come your way in the crazyquilt of the heart is to find yourself being the one in his shoes and the other person being the "who you were" . <br />
Love is not enough without a lot of good timing and genuine compatibilities, it is inspiring to find that others do find themselves in the right spot for both of them for a very long time. I hope that you are one who does... smiles.... and for me as well... in fact, everyone who wants to... in fact even for the ones who don't want to.... You vill love or else... naw I guess that is going too far!!

I have learned a lot a lot from your story, and believe me it is great, i mean fabulous.

Well done, so poignant!

I think that anyone who has ever loved and lost will relate to that story. And it was very heart felt and genuine. Really lovely...

You've had an amazing moment of clarity, for me they are few and far between, but its amazing when the light bulb brightens enough and directs its light on something long enough to have that self revelation and to retain it. Thank you for sharing that moment with us, its shows an unselfishness and purity of heart that seems to be rare in todays world.

Wow, I like the way you can reflect on your past Love awesome , I feel . May you recieve your hearts desire.<br />
<br />
Summer ~~~

thank you, i feel the same, although the tears still come for me, the love wasn't reciprocated, that's exactly what i learned from my first love, the meaning of love was defined for me.

i just read this and it brought tears to my eyes and that takes a lot. iv came out of a serious relationship 1 year ago i thought she loved me but when i finaly said it she she was using me to get to someone else i haven't been able to trust any one since

"Who he was made him deserve my affection."<br />
<br />
"It wasn't the did, it was the was."<br />
<br />
That is so perfect. Thank you for sharing these words that I have been searching for.

you write beautifully and from the heart<br />
Thank you

Wow. I can only hope that one day I'll be able to feel a love like that for someone.

Wow. I can only hope that one day I'll be able to feel a love like that for someone.

This is such an incredible story and so poetically written. Thank you so much for sharing, it is helping me process a lot of thoughts about my current relationship and deal with the uncertainty of its future.

I find myself in tears after reading this. Okay 'in tears' may a tiny bit of an exaggeration.. But my throat's closed up, I chocked, and my eyes felt like it was burning.<br />
<br />
My experience was a completely different one from yours, but in essence yes it was the 'was' not the 'did'.<br />
<br />
Thanks for sharing ^_^

very nicely written. Very honest too.

this is the perfect way to describe the very first person you loved

anyways,if everything is set for both of you then nothing to worry about.I just love the story

That was a great story!

i believe all those who are desperately attempting to move forward should read this post! it makes sense - total sense. they're the same things i too realized after several years of reflection (for the most part.) i believe once you are able to extract a positive purpose from an ended relationship it is then you are more capable of moving forward in a healthy manner. kudos to you! it's out there for ya, btw. it's a big world with lots of people, many of whom i'm sure you've yet to meet ... so just hang tight and keep on doin' what you do ... before you know it *POOF* it will all happen again ... just do not allow yourself to reminisce at this point ... eek! that's always bad for a new relationship. lol<br />
my best to you.

Thank you so much for writing this... reading it has helped me begin to move on.


What you wrote was not just poetic but so reflective that anyone who reads what you shared can only LEARN something from your pure honesty and introspection. It seems like your first love was a kind of love that sadly many people will never have, with all of your insight, with all of your learning, with all of your understanding of what love SHOULD be, i have no doubt that sometime because of your true understanding of what love REALLY is you will again have the chance to share and embrace this special gift. My first love was not a healthy love. We were together for 5 years and it was a very unhealthy love, so much so, that after reading what you shared i can nolonger call it a first love. i am so happy for you that you got the chance for what sounds like a pure love, and with that expierence the next man that offers you that type of love and it is reciprocated, i can't imagine it not being a life long bond that people will be in awe of. Thank you for teaching me what REAL love is, you said it with eloquence, dignity, respect and great appreciation. i can hardly wait to read your story when you find that type of love again, and maybe it seems silly for me to say, but i honestly can't imagine a person with such GREAT understanding of what love is, not finding it again, whether it be this year or 5 years from now.

i just wrote and experience and u just wrote everythign i friends say the same about me .. that i have too much love inside me.. but im impatient and alot of people keep saying that this boy didnt love me enough...but i believe he did but it just wasnt rite...thank u for settling my confusion by knowing someone else went throught htis and came up with the same conclusion

wow - thanks for putting into words what I had thought about for so long.....