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How I Loved Her

I loved her in a way that was unlike anyone I have ever loved before. I never knew love like this existed or was possible. And I have loved many incredible women very deeply. Women I feel so blessed to have met. Women who were born of the stars.

I have never really cared or thought much about marriage, but I loved her in a way that made me want to marry her and I would have married her in a moment without hesitation.

I pictured a selfish scenario where I was a bit healthier than I currently am so that I could be in someone’s life even if only in a small way (I currently cannot handle company so a marriage makes no sense). But if I could handle company and speak like many ME/CFS patients can, I dreamt of this selfish world where we were together and she loved me so much she didn’t care about the limitations and she made me aware of that and I didn’t feel bad about being her husband/partner. I dreamt of some symbiotic hypothetical that worked for both of us and filled us with love and support even if it was often very difficult and often quite sad due to the limitations imposed on us. But we loved each other so much that we would not have it any other way because anything was worth it to have each other in our lives. This was just something we had to accept about living in an imperfect world, but the love between us was unquestionable and undeniable and never-ending. She had so much respect for who I am that she was willing to put up with anything to be close to that. And I had so much respect for her that I trusted in her sacrifice to be with me and we were at peace with it.

I have loved deeply before, but the world has always come first for me, before any kind of love for a woman - my relationship with the world came before my relationships with women regardless of how much I loved them and wanted them to be in my life. And for this reason I have always had short relationships because I was young and moved a lot and when one of us moved, I prioritized moving and that change over girlfriends and I said goodbye. And I always felt a sense of peace with letting relationships be this passing thing that I didn’t need to hold onto, but rather experienced fully and then let go of. I saw a lot of beauty in that.

But being with her became the world I prioritized first above all else. There wasn’t me and the world and then her, there was a world with her. They became one and the same and I felt that being with her could be the most important thing in my life and the thing I always came back to. The thing I could always depend on being there and never questioned or doubted. The one thing that was always there in my life. No matter how nomadic I lived as an artist, photographer, photojournalist or documentarian. Or no matter how limited I was as a ME/CFS patient.

I had never felt that before and didn’t know I was capable of merging those two worlds. I didn’t know it was possible for me to have another person be the center of my world.

To be clear, another person could never be my reason for living like a lot of people say when they get married - "their other half" (I worked as a wedding photograph and heard a lot of "vows"). I don’t think that’s healthy or sustainable or even possible. I will never loose my independence or sense of self or merge my sense of self with another person. That scares me. I will always be Whitney and even with her, she would always be her. But my world would become in many ways about her. She would be at the center of my world instead of one of many things in my world.

I guess people say this a lot, but she would become my home. Anywhere and anytime and in whatever form she came to me in, she would be my home.

I loved her in a way where she became integrated with my own life and sense of purpose. I would have died to save her life or even for her happiness in a moment. Because she in herself was something I was happy to make any sacrifice for, even giving up my life. I would have done anything for her, given anything for her.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about love like this, where it is the most important thing in their lives. But I’ve never felt it before. And it was all based on a chat only relationship in which I was bedridden and knew her only through words and a few images - images that were restrained - we made a decision to not show our whole bodies to each other because we wanted to save that for a real life intangible future that we both felt was destined to be.

The moment we met online we both instantly felt this sense that we were meant to be in each other’s lives even though it was not possible given the realities of both of our lives. I can only imagine what would have happened if we were both available and we could have acted on our emotions, possibly illogically.

She was the only woman I dreamt of, there was no one else. When I thought of intimacy, it was her that my thoughts went to, when I thought of love, it was her, when I thought of sex, it was her, when I thought of anything comforting or reminiscent of a home or life at home, it was her. And I didn't know how to stop that even after saying goodbye for good in a way that cannot be undone. I didn't know how I could switch that off, because she became my world and a big part of my reason for living and existing and she became so much of the meaning that I felt for my life.

I have felt love for other women I have met since meeting her because she has always been so unavailable we have not been able to dedicate ourselves to each other. But even still, it was always her. She played this interesting role in my mind where she was sort of "the woman". Like she had become part of my definition of the word and my definition of the idea. I couldn't separate the idea of a woman with her. They were not only connected but they became one and the same. Other women of course existed and I cared for them deeply, but they were all "other" women. She was the one.

I felt like this was the sort of feeling that was supposed to turn into marriage or long term partnership because I didn't know how you just turn off what had been turned on here; The kind sacrifices I would have made for her, what I would have done for her. I didnt know how I was going to live without her in my life, it seemed impossible. Even when I had to let go of the idea of a life together as I dreamed of, she was always there in my life in some way as a supporter, a friend, a lover, two hearts always entwined in some way and inseparable despite anything and everything.

I still love her so much, I just looked through all the pictures I have of her and when I close my eyes I can feel her presence so close to me but it’s an illusion. She is gone and I will never get to feel her next to me or talk to her or cook her a meal after a long day or look over at her as I shift gears with her sitting in the passenger seat looking at me with a little smile that says so much. She feels so close but she is far away and will never be a part of my life.

I’m grieving the loss of the most profound and unexpected love of my life. And I don’t have a great way to process that. Only time.

There are many incredible people I have met online who make me really happy and who I love and care deeply about. So I am supported and surrounded by loving, beautiful, caring people. I just need to let the loss work through me so I can let in something new.

Dealing with something like this with ME/CFS is so difficult. We don’t have the physical ability to do things that would help give us perspective, escape or reprieve, and we often can’t think clearly enough to process our emotions. So they sit in us like rocks. All we can do is keep going and know that we will be ok and that life holds so much for us in the future that we don’t know anything about yet. Life will find a way. The emotions will work through us at our own pace and we will deal with them and make peace with them. Our minds and bodies know how to process even if we don’t consciously do the work.

I will make peace with this. But it will not be an easy process.

Two weeks later:

I have been able to process things better with time. She did something incredibly hurtful that forced us to say goodbye to each other after everything and all of our dreams of a loving bond for the rest of our lives. I felt really betrayed at first, but I am internalizing what she did and this is allowing me to let go of the dream of us. The dream is still there, but it’s as if I have woken up from it. I still feel that it was a dream that I was supposed to live, but I have realigned my sights on a different future and accepted that reality.

So I loved with all my heart in a way that I did not know was possible. And I learned a lot about what was possible in a relationship and got a glimpse of how profound and important it could be. I can only imagine what is possible with unrestricted love. This did not work out mostly because of the realities of our lives but also because of the dynamics of chat friendships/relationships - something I want to write more about in another post. If I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing. The time we spent together was magical and I learned a lot about the world and myself from being close to her. And I’ve also reached a place where I’m glad that it is over and I can move on and focus my attention on people and things that are more available to me in the way my life is now. I have no idea how I would make the energy for a relationship the way my health is, but I am open to the idea. I always remain as open minded as I can, we have to with all the limitations imposed on us by ME/CFS. We have to find the openings in the universe that let us live.

Think about how much I learned and changed and experienced from my time interacting through just chat with this woman. It changed my life. I would encourage all of you to be open minded to letting new love and friendship into your lives even with severe ME/CFS in whatever limited way they can exist in your life. Who knows what could happen or what is possible. The world is your decrepit little fucked up oyster.  



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