I have an old friend. We were friends in high school.
I remember him as being so poignantly alive – so full of character and spirit. He inspired me and wowed me – and I really think a deep part of me truly loved him.
After high school we went our separate ways, as people tend to do. And then a Christmas or so we reconnected….
And I was appalled. He was so constricted. So tight. So not full of life, or truth, or passion, or all the things I remember him as being.
He was bloated, and blind to reality, and slowly suffocating from his own fears.
I knew another man. And this one I definitely loved. He was the first man I ever fell hard for.
The kind of passion that made me cry when I got within half a mile of his apartment – even two years later – because I was so deeply affected by him.
He was smart, and kind, and spiritual. He was clever and caring. He was a beautiful man, inside and out.
And I saw his potential. I saw what he could grow into being.
But he wasn’t ready to embrace that part of himself. He was not ready to face his truth.
He’d rather hide, and escape, and not confront the reality of life’s most challenging – and often growth filled – moments.
In both of these instances – I cared for these men because who they had the capacity to become – and not who they actually are/were.
And this is so hard to acknowledge and accept.
For those of us who have the capacity to see the potential within another human being (and I believe there is a lot of us), it’s very easy to get caught up in assessing them as the person they might become.
And this is why so many of us stay in unhealthy relationships.
Or forgive abusive friends.
Or endure hostile relatives.
We know – deep down – they are capable of so much more.
But the truth we must learn to acknowledge is this:
They Are Not These People.
These individuals are only so good as the person they are in this moment. They, in actuality and totality, are not just these gems buried inside.
And I can’t love someone for who they might be.
This is why I keep that high school friend at a distance and don’t reach out to him very often. While I love the memory of the boy he was and the man he might have grown into, I cannot abide the man he currently is.
Similarly, I cannot hope that my first real love will come round, face his fears, and acknowledge the capacity to learn and grow that lies between us.
I cannot love him for that – because that is not where he currently is in his psyche.
So – I delete his number from my phone. And I wish my old friend a happy birthday – and that is all.
I send out a prayer and blessings to the universe – thanking them for the light and inspiration that they brought to my life – and wishing them well on their journeys.
And I stay grateful for having the capacity to see beneath the surface – and to see another’s deeper truth.
And keep reminding myself to not get caught up in what another might eventually achieve.
Because they are just not there now.