Late last year, someone I had known in college, but hadn’t seen in more than twenty years, messaged me. We got together for coffee, and he updated on people I had known in college.
“I always thought of him as the one who got away,” I said when we got around to this one guy I had really liked but was too scared to do anything about.
I do think of him as the one who got away, but I could not believe I had actually said it out loud. Vulnerability is not my strong suit, so this verbal admission surprised me.
Later that same week, I heard a radio show about regret, and I recalled that conversation. I regret that I let my fears determine my future.
I started to think of other times when I had closed the door on the possibility of relationship. I remembered a man I had met at the end of my summer semester in Spain. He was an architect in Algericas, and I was about to leave the country. I said I would write when I got home, but I didn’t. To what end?
Similarly, the guy in upstate New York I had met on a weekend trip to Ithaca. He wrote me beautiful love letters and even drove the 200 miles to see me several times. But I was not going to move to New York, and he had no desire to move to Pennsylvania, so what was the point of pursuing a relationship?
Geographically undesirable, I thought both times.
Looking back, I can see that pragmatism was the coverup for my fear.
Last week, I watched the movie Frozen (not for the first time, but the first time in several years).
My mom died last June, and throughout the final months of her life, I had advised my sisters (and told myself) to let it go when people said things that were critical of the care we were giving my mom.
I must have said let it go hundreds of times in those last six months of my mom’s life.
After my mom died and people continued to express their opinions about what we should have or could have done to extend my mom’s life (even though she was 95 years old and had major health issues), I suggested to my sisters that we get Elsa t-shirts that said let it go.
I decided to watch Frozen again if for no other reason than to see Elsa letting go.
The line that caught my attention this time, though, was only an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart.
I wondered if my heart is frozen. Had all those times when I had said “no” to the possibility of love frozen my heart? Had shutting down on potential closed me to opportunity?
What can I learn from my past decisions and regrets? How do I move past fear to freedom? How do I let go and become open to love?